Naveen Jain wants your data. All of it. And he’s already got a big chunk of it.
Ditto for a whole host of other software entrepreneurs whose businesses are based on leveraging Big Data and Analytics to the hilt.
Now before you stop reading this article to attempt erasing your digital footprint, relax. They’re not breaking into any of your accounts, as far as we can tell.
Giving up Privacy for Returns
Jain, for example, the founder of inome, is developing a way to gather, analyze and display your personal, publicly available data to create an information genome that is as unique to you as an individual as your DNA.
He made his intentions known during GigaOm’s Structure conference held in New York City last week where he sat on a panel discussing personalization and privacy in a Big Data World.
“Think about all the information that exists about you that has no common key,” Jain said to the audience. As examples he cited data stemming from newspaper articles, emails, magazines subscriptions, real estate purchases, police records you may have, etc.
What if all those things, from all over the map were assigned to you not as a name but as a person?
The impact would be huge, according to Jain.
And if you check out your inome at its current state, you’ll likely be impressed with what you see even at this early stage of the company’s history.
While the skeptic in us might suspect that Jain plans to sell our data to advertisers, that’s not what he talks about. Instead he asks questions about what it would mean if you could predict that a medication would be therapeutic for you even before you swallowed it. (He suggests that data from clinical studies reveal that many medications have 100% efficacy for some people and only 20% for others.)
Or what if you could follow your child’s digital trail in real time as he walked home from school and who he was walking with?
You’d give up privacy, but you’d gain something of even greater value in return, Jain suggests.
And Jain wasn’t the only panelist on stage who believes this. Ken Chahine, who heads the DNA business at Ancestry.com, sees people give up their most personal, personal data (their DNA) every day to find out more about who they’re related to and about their ethnicity.
Ancestry always offers to give people their DNA sample back, but there aren’t many takers, according to Chanine. People care more about being able to get it back than they do about actually having it in their possession, he says
Now when it comes to location data, people are a little wearier.
Swapping Location for Bargains
David Shim, the founder of Placed, a startup which offers real world location insights from mobile analytics, started his company when he realized that mobile has more interesting data points than a PC to track — including location, time of day and information from sensors, such as Wi-Fi and NFC.
That data can be used to reveal insights such as that 25.2% of Amazon.com shoppers also shop at Walmart and that 37% of those shoppers are women. And what matters to both Amazon and Walmart customers when they shop? Selection and price, which are the two values that drive women into the stores. This kind of data is certainly key to retailers who want to close sales.
As an aside, Placed also looks to find out which shoppers use Amazon.com’s Price Check app most and at what stores they use it. T.J. Maxx takes the cake here as the store most visited by Amazon.com Price Check users (53 percent) followed by Costco (49 percent), Office Depot (33 percent), AT&T Wireless (31 percent), Toys "R" Us (29 percent), Macy's (29 percent), Best Buy (28 percent), PetSmart (25 percent), RadioShack (22 percent), Bed Bath & Beyond (22 percent), Target (19 percent) and GameStop (19 percent).
Incidentally, the practice of going to stores and physically looking at products and then buying them online is called Showrooming. Big Data analyzed by Placed might be able to help brick and mortar stores snag in-store sales by matching or undercutting Amazon prices via pushing email or text based coupons at shoppers while they are physically in the aisle looking at a product.
Would deal-seekers be willing to give up some of their privacy to get a personalized shopping experience and to save money? Shim’s bet is yes.
But when it happens they might be freaked out too.
“Right now everyone’s afraid of [sharing] location, but as people start to understand the benefit of sharing this kind of data it will start to become more open,” says Shim. “People won’t mind sharing data if you get something back in return. That perception will change over time,” he says.
This is the conclusion that all of the panelists at the conference reached.
And it’s hard to disagree.
Welcome to the world of Big Data where there’s lots of personalization and very little privacy at all.
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