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July 2011
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February 2012

Personal data is the new oil!

The world economic forum and many futurists believe personal data is the new asset class that will emerge as a competitive advantage for many marketers. It is important that marketers start using this data  intelligently, judiciously and in a manner that benefits and engages the customer. Else, this is one area that can have a severe backlash from customers just like the occupy the wall street episode.

Personal data may be the new oil but refining and using it sparingly with relevance is becoming a very important issue for marketers to focus and address.

Who is the owner of our personal data?

However,  there is an emerging debate around the ownership of personal data as digital outposts & sites are gathering data about customers like never before. Google recently released a new privacy policy last week which  redefines how this data will be used across all Google properties that we as their customers have an account. The new Google privacy policy reads " We may use the name you provide for your Google Profile across all of the services we offer that require a Google Account.....We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads...."

Clearly, the challenge that is becoming a key part of the debate is who is the owner of this personal data  and what of it can be used and by whom.

My View

I personally believe customers should be given control of their data. Customers must give permission about which of this data can be used basis their interests and lifestyle needs to companies, advertisers and marketers. And thereby brands can deliver value to these customers.

Imagine personal data lockers being available which customers can own for a fee(much like the demat of company shares that have happened over years across different countries & markets). There will be several central agencies that hold this data and provide access to customers  - with a front-end which provides flexibility to give permissions to customers to release this data for commercial purposes. If the past few decades were the era of credit bureaus, the coming decades are the era of data bureaus.

Imagine a customer wanting to buy a car ticks the check-box on the need or expresses the need to be a part of a community of interest.Many marketers and companies then vie to build a dialog and a conversation with the customer - not spam her with emails, irrelevant ads and messages on mobiles. All the searches that customer does then become available for relevant ads to be shown to her online. Then, the sales & marketing teams of different marketers & products unlock a new engagement platform to woo this customer.

The customer experience is therefore refined, relevant and customized like never before using the data that is in control in the hands of the customer. 

Imagine the power of this data. Imagine its efficiency. Imagine its effectivness. If personal data has to remain as the new oil, the control & flexibility must be in the hands of the customer.

The future of marketing - Knowing what's coming!

The profession of marketing is the midst of a huge change. New devices, social media, data-led insights are changing the dimension for brands like never before. Here's a perspective shared by some experts of what's coming and how we need to get prepared. I picked-up some of the points and trends and sharing them here:

  • Customer data will become more important than ever. Tapping into Facebook’s social graph will allow businesses to access an incredible amount of information…This will be used to take marketing personalization to a whole new level.
  • Cross-department and channel collaboration will become more prevalent as marketing coordinates its research, analysis, activities and reporting with other parts of the business.
  • Webinars as an educational and marketing platform saw a huge rise in popularity in 2011, and will continue to grow in popularity in 2012.
  • The importance of viral and shareable content will drive companies and brands to become more creative with their content, replacing the predictable sales pitch with more informative or entertaining material, making the 2012 browsing experience less like opening pages, and more like changing channels.
  • Marketers need to think about how different channels connect with each other for users (such as email and social, display and mobile) and enable seamless extension of the user experience from one channel into another.
  • In 2012, we will see a continued rise in “on-demand” capabilities for all manner of media, and we will begin to utilize cloud-based services more and more. Marketing will allow less on wide shotgun blast approaches, and more on targeted, concentrated efforts.
  • Organizations that understand how great content turns audiences into mini-brand ambassadors will focus on storytelling and narrative as a catalyst for this change.
  • Social and mobile technology will continue to grow in importance. Email marketing will become less important as social media becomes the primary channel to communicate to customers and offer buying opportunities for consumers.

Would love to hear your comments on what you hear, see, read and what are you likely to do in the coming years.