By Elan Amir, CEO, MeasureOne
Consumer data is big business, projected to reach $234.6 Billion by 2026. There has never been more consumer data available online, and collecting and sharing of personal data continues to be the widely accepted norm of doing business. Today, consumer data sharing relies primarily on data aggregators that collect, organize, and store large amounts of consumer data, and sell that data to businesses. There are many problems with this data sharing model (the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica debacle comes to mind), however, a few stand out as particularly egregious: the high cost of the data, its poor quality, and perhaps most importantly, the inherent betrayal of consumer trust.
So, is there a better approach to consumer data sharing? The notion of customer experience has been almost exclusively limited to product development and marketing. As a result, data sharing has not been considered a customer-facing endeavor. Rather, data acquisition and sharing has largely been treated as a technology function, for which aggregation is an acceptable solution. A truly customer-centric approach to data places the consumer at the heart of the sharing experience and treats it as an integral part of product development. This alternative view of treating data as part of the customer experience elevates the entire domain of consumer data collection and sharing to the level of a company’s core products and services.
What consumers want
To understand what a consumer-centric data sharing experience looks like, we first need to understand what motivates the consumer. In 2021 alone, there were 5,250 confirmed data breaches. The backdrop to this terrible data safety record is two seemingly contradictory interests that have clearly manifested themselves in consumer behavior. On the one hand, as a consequence of these data breaches, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in their understanding of data privacy and expect greater control and transparency over their personal information. From government regulatory bodies to consumer advocacy groups and individual consumers – there has never been greater scrutiny and emphasis on ensuring consumer data privacy rights are maintained and enforced. On the other hand, consumers have never been more willing to share their personal data to unlock innovative and convenient services. In fact, consumers regularly and willingly share a wide range of personal data including financial, educational, income, real estate, and more, in exchange for services like loans, employment offers, rental agreements, and discounts.
Ask for permission, not forgiveness
In response to these competing demands, businesses must find ways to obtain the data they want without violating consumer trust. Historically, businesses collected personal data in anticipation of it being valuable one day, even if they had no immediate need for the data. Taking consumer data without permission, and asking for forgiveness only when consumers found out, may have worked in the early days of data collection. That method has no place in a world where consumers demand and deserve trust, transparency, and respect for their data.
Instead, businesses must put the consumer at the center of each and every data transaction. They must incentivize the consumer to share their data in exchange for products and services. At the core of this transaction is the explicit permission from the consumer to access and use their personal data directly from their primary data source, typically their online account.
Put the consumer in control with consumer-permissioned data (CPD)
This model of consumer data sharing with direct access to personal data from the consumer is called consumer-permissioned data (CPD). It is an essential component of customer-centric data sharing. Consumer-permissioned data unlocks data that lives within a consumer’s online credentialed account with the direct permission of the consumer. In a CPD transaction, a consumer elects to provide access to their personal account for the purpose of sharing data present in that account with a requesting business for a valuable exchange. One of the earliest and most widely adopted examples of CPD is access to bank account information within payment applications such as Venmo and Paypal. Further examples include the sharing of income data or employment data to secure a mortgage loan.
CPD offers many benefits. First and foremost, it is inherently customer-centric. The customer experience is an integral part of the transaction. The consumer’s permission defines both the scope and limits of access and use of the shared data, creating the foundation for a trusting and transparent customer relationship. Next, CPD is vastly superior in several important aspects to other methods of data acquisition. It is real-time, up to date, and direct from the primary data source. This means better and broader data that leads to better business decisions and consumer outcomes. Finally, in a demonstration of the promise and power of consumer-centric design, consumers engaged in CPD transactions are regularly willing to grant access to new and untapped realms of their personal data, creating a virtuous cycle of business innovation and consumer benefits.
Towards a better future
We live in the data age and have only just begun to leverage the power of a consumer’s data to deliver personalized benefits and expand opportunities. Consumers are willing to share when they receive value in return. Access to this data is a great responsibility for businesses and requires moving past the old ways to a customer-centric approach. Consumer-permissioned data brings together the interests of businesses and consumers alike, laying the groundwork for a healthier, richer, and more robust data sharing future.
Elan Amir brings a unique combination of management, strategy and technology expertise, leading organizations from start-up to scale. Before joining MeasureOne, Elan served as Chief Product & Technology Officer at SpringboardAuto.com, a SaaS-based auto-finance company serving consumers and financial institutions, and at Prosper Marketplace, a leading marketplace lending company. Prior, Elan served nine years as CEO of Bivio Networks, a cyber-security solutions provider. Elan received his PhD and MS in Computer Science, and a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley.
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