Now Everyone Wants a Piece of Data

You know big-data has arrived when it slides off the pages of tech publications to emerge as one of the 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013.

And that's the case, at least according to TrendWatching, an independent trend agency that scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights, and related hands-on business ideas.

No. 7 on the list for the coming year: data myning. Really.

The concept is simple. If data is the new resource, expect consumers to start demanding their share of its value, the organization suggests. While most big-data discussion to date has focused on the value of customer data to businesses, TrendWatching predicts increasingly savvy consumers will start to reverse the flow.

Consumers will start "seeking to own and make the most of their lifestyle data, and turning to brands that use this data to proactively offer customers help and advice on how to improve their behavior and/or save money."

Yet TrendWatching warns that brands will "have to walk a fine line between offering consumers a valuable (and ideally seamless) service, and freaking them out with aggressive if not downright scary 'services'."

Evidently, we want to get attention, without feeling like we're being watched. It's a complex balancing act, so I went to David Mattin, lead strategist at Trendwatching, for more information. Mattin told me one of the key drivers of the data myning trend is consumer awareness of data.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that across their daily lives -- and via their interactions with brands and businesses -- they are creating a data trail, and that the data they are creating has value: It is being collected, used, and traded by brands and business," he explained.

Now that the genie is out of the bottle -- specifically, now that consumers are aware of the potential uses of their data -- it's only natural that they start to ask themselves how to get something out of it, Mattin told me.

"Throughout 2013, we expect data awareness among mainstream consumers to grow, and so we expect to see rising numbers of consumers adopt a data myning mindset and become increasingly demanding that the brands and businesses they interact with use their data to help them save money, time, or effort."

And consumers can benefit in a host of ways: by saving money, for instance. "Many brands will have to come to terms with the fact that applying the data myning trend will mean advising consumers on how to spend less by improving their usage patterns and becoming more efficient.

"By providing consumers with highly glanceable visualizations of their usage and bill data, consumers can be empowered to take control of the way they use a service and make efficiency savings."

Opower, for example, is an energy app that provides visualizations of a consumer's energy usage data, empowering the consumer to adjust usage and save money. "Opower also brings an obvious benefit to the environmentally conscious consumer -- and increasing numbers of consumers fit that description -- by helping them to make their use of finite resources more efficient."

Other uses of data will see consumers offered more relevant discounts and special deals. But that's just the start. Mattin believes the innovative use of consumer data will also help to bring new services to consumers who previously have been denied them. He cites, as an example, Cignifi, a US firm that has developed analytics technology that uses mobile usage patterns like calls and messages to assess someoneís lifestyle and subsequent credit-risk profile.

The service recently completed a pilot in Brazil and is now targeting the 100 million people that make up Brazilís emerging middle class and who currently have limited access to financial services products due to their lack of traditional credit data.

Data myning could be the next big thing, Mattin says: "Applying the trend allows brands and businesses a means to improve the product or service they offer consumers: Make it more effective, more relevant, more efficient, more affordable."

Do you agree? What risks and benefits do you see?

Noreen Seebacher,

Noreen Seebacher, the Community Editor of Investor Uprising, has been a business journalist for more than 20 years. A New York City based writer and editor, she has worked for numerous print and online publications. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, New York’s Daily News, The Detroit News, and the Pittsburgh Press. She co-edited five newsletters for Real Estate Media’s and served as the site's technology editor.

She also championed the commercial real estate beat at The Journal News, a Gannett publication in suburban New York City, and co-founded a Website focused on personal finance. Through her own company, Stasa Media, Noreen has produced reports, whitepapers, and internal publications for a number of Fortune 500 clients. When she's not writing, editing, or Web surfing, she relaxes in an 1875 Victorian with her husband and their five kids, four formerly homeless cats, and a dog.

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Re: My data
  • 12/28/2012 11:58:49 PM


Noreen writes

No. 7 on the list for the coming year: data myning. Really.

The concept is simple. If data is the new resource, expect consumers to start demanding their share of its value


Definitely.  I particularly would like to be privy to the results of their snooping, especially about people I might know...


Re: My data
  • 12/28/2012 6:42:36 AM

Given choices, consumers would be happy to provide information about their personal habits, personal or shopping as long as they have some percieved control over what's given up. 

Decades ago, folks would never believe the amount of information companies now obtain would ever be possible. But, as times change and consumer perceptions about privacy change over time, it's all a new ball game.

But, even with relaxed views of just what's 'personal' consumers want their own piece of 'myning' in an effort to have control over their internet and shopping lives.

Blinded By the Light ?
  • 12/16/2012 1:51:09 AM

"There's no single data point — like making lots of short calls between 2 and 5 a.m. every morning — that suggests that someone is a bad credit risk. But CEO Jonathan Hakim says, 'The way you use your phone is a proxy for your lifestyle.'"


Really ? I think the statement above is representative of what we have long discussed here in the community.  How results can be skewed by assumptions that turn out to be faulty in the end.  I wish Cignifi luck - they are going to need it.

Iffy Cignifi
  • 12/16/2012 1:46:23 AM

Cignifi is a case in point of a company who is really pulling at strings IMO if they think they can make money analyzing the mobile usage patterns of individuals to assess of all things - a credit -risk profile.  Is there really a market for this type of round about useless conclusion ?   Apparently they have some investment but I think the company could have been based on a better metric.


Re: My data
  • 12/14/2012 8:43:43 PM

Will be interesting to see how much people are willing to sell

Re: My data
  • 12/12/2012 7:53:06 AM

@kicheko, it'll definitely be an interesting trend to keep our eye on. Like you, though, I don't expect we'll see too much consumer action this coming year -- except for maybe among the absolute most sophisticated and analytics savvy users (not your average Joes, by any means!). Think about how many years we've encouraged consumers to be mindful of data privacy online, and yet go along on their merry ways without giving their privacy due consideration!

Re: My data
  • 12/11/2012 3:37:06 PM

Beth, - I can picture the consumer becoming more data savvy at some point and beginning to conduct reverse analytics on brands. Just that i might not bet that on 2013 as yet considering how blurry the big-data concept is. Then again a year is a long time in data second half of 2013 we may just see a lot of consumer focused big-data analytics applications.

My data
  • 12/11/2012 1:18:16 PM

@Noreen, I like the idea of "myning," although  societally I could see it opening more of a chasm between the haves and have-nots. Like the telephone and Internet access before, the abllity to access real-time information whenever and whereever you are so you get better deals, better service, and can make better decisions will be a thing of the priviledged and urban folks, some might say.