Guiding Consumers in the Data Driver Seat

BAP_datadriver_2If companies want to survive into the 2020s, they may need to answer this question today: What would your customers say if they could actually shape the conversation while also deciding what data they shared, and with whom?

This is the implication from an excerpt in the upcoming (January 2015) book “Tomorrow’s Enterprises,” by Brian Mulconrey. In a chapter titled “Terms of Privacy: 2021,” Mulconrey envisions a consumer-brand relationship that hinges on customer-controlled privacy apps. These apps would enable consumers to counter the terms of service agreements with their own terms, to include a share of online advertising fees as well as the ability manage their personal information.

All this could be possible with the rise of anonymous identifiers and the future potential of consumers to aggregate these identifiers across all digital relationships, from where they buy shoes to where they book restaurant reservations.

However, the essential question to me sits beyond the economic implications for the consumer and probes into the experiential elements of this new relationship. These elements may well represent the critical point of differentiation among brands in the future.

Time will tell if marketers ever agree to share their ad fees with consumers in exchange for access to their personal information. However, the idea that consumers may be able to click and send a counter-proposal to a company rather than simply agree to its terms and conditions is compelling.

Imagine that instead of simply agreeing to give up all their data for the company to use however it wants, consumers could define clearly what they will share, how they want it handled and what benefits they expect in exchange. What do you think your customers would expect and what would they want in exchange?

Perhaps we should future-proof our actions by thinking about these kinds of questions today. In my view, not only is a relevant experience representative of the highest form of connection with the customer, but it also provides a compelling way to distinguish a business from its competition.

Our customers may not know how to express this today, but we have the opportunity to help them think about the alternatives that can work.

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