We are seeing an explosion of data that people are creating about every aspect of themselves. Health data, behavior data, purchase behavior data, etc. Not only are people creating this data but also collecting it for themselves. This, essentially, is the concept of "Quantified Self". The centralization and digitization of your data and behavior. It is an undeniable trend and I think an interesting one. Yet, so many people are so scared of putting this data to full use (which partially includes me) for their own benefit and convenience.
I find there are some totally divergent scenarios around personal data that we might see in the future. These are mainly emerging to address concerns around privacy, security and accuracy. One extreme that we could see happen is where there is no more "public" or "corporately-held" data on individuals. A main driver of this would be the developments in the area of personal data vaults. What is this personal data vault? As you create this personal data you won't actually save the data on some other company's cloud server or system anymore but rather your own personal cloud server. This could even be an actual physical PC standing in your house that collects all your data. In short, you own and host the data. This gives users a new level of control over their data and if they wanted that data or info to be removed then they could do it without needing to apply for it to be removed or provide any big explanation.
Now that you have control over your personal data, you get to choose what services and analytics tools you would want to have "analyze" your personal data for your own insights and benefits. You also get to choose the level of protection and encryption you want to have around your data. So far so good. Who better to be in charge of your personal data than yourself.
Where it gets really interesting and somewhat "out there" is around what happens next. We now have people who collect and encrypt their own data and then go one step further and host it themselves on a platform that is out of reach for companies and corporates. What stops individuals now charging companies to get access to their data? People can now make some money off their own data rather than other companies making money off their data. People could allow companies "access" to certain fields but not an actual copy of your data.
Imagine signing up to a newsletter. Instead of giving a company your email address you allow them access to your email address field on in your data vault. As they send out the newsletter email, your vault assess whether you have actually provided them access to the field and then fills in the email address and it is on the way to your inbox. The company would have no actual record of your actual email address. When you want to unsubscribe you just revoke access or permission for that provider to that field. They still will not have a copy of your email address. Talk about control over your data, right?
It does create a scary scenario for companies of the future if this trend would develop. What I am not sure about is whether the commercial detriment from this development will outweigh the data protection and control advantages and thus not happen ... OR ... are there actually such massive possibilities here in getting people onboard in producing data that it will be worth it and supported by regulators and adopted by companies.
What do you think? Craziness or exciting concepts?
Location: Zurich, Switzerland