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?