Data Start-ups Promise Businesses Better Data by Giving Power to the People

Loraine Lawson
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How to Monetize Data in Five Steps

If people aren’t paying, they’re not customers: They’re users, and users are there to be used, one expert recently told me.

It’s a troubling maxim in this data-driven age, but let’s be honest:  Facebook is practically printing money using it as a business model.

That dynamic among user, data and owner could change — and drastically —  if three start-ups can win over users.  Ozymandias recently profiled Datacoup, Handshake and Meeco — all companies that plan to up-end the status quo on finding, fixing and filling in data on existing and potential customers.

And if it works out, they might just make data quality and 360-degree customer views more attainable for businesses.

Their premise is simple: The data belongs to individuals, so individuals are (among) the ones who should profit from it.

Although the specifics vary, these companies are essentially compensating online users for sharing or monitoring their data.  Ozymandias has the details on what this means for individuals, but for enterprise marketing and IT, what’s more interesting are the ramifications for your own datasets.

These start-ups obtain their data from the source — and they up the expectations by compensating. By opting in, customers and potential customers — not to mention voters — are giving you access to information you could previously only find by deep mining social media.

This is no small thing, particularly for those interested in obtaining that ever-elusive 360-degree view of customers through customer data integration. In fact, Datacoup co-founder Matt Hogan boldly tells Ozymandias that the only way to obtain that 360-degree insight is through that individual.

I’m a bit skeptical about that, but where I do think these companies offer the most value is in data quality. While you can’t always assume a person will provide you accurate information all the time, it would at least provide a way to iron out discrepancies in your customer data and marketing lists.

This is especially significant when you look at big datasets, which have made data quality even more challenging. In fact, consultant Jim Harris once proposed that the best data quality solution would be establishing individuals as the stewards of their own data.  (I’m still annoyed that the post was lost in his site upgrade.)

Laptop User

These startups are looking beyond social media data, though. They want to compete with the real power players - data brokers that silently collect and resell personal data. That includes the giants of this industry: the three credit reporting services, which resell personal data through their data marketing divisions.

What’s odd about that to me is that these organizations have made headlines and court dockets over data quality issues within their own data. Oddly, they are equally well-known for refusing to correct data based on documentation from the actual person. In fact, an Oregon woman sued Equifax after it refused to correct her error-ridden credit report. The jury agreed, awarding her $18.6 million.

These start-ups think they can do better by compensating individuals for personal data, and they’re betting we’re fed up with data brokers who work off-the-radar, the article notes.

“I think people are just starting to realize that these large companies are acting as silos and that making ‘us’ the product is a form of digital feudalism,” Katryna Dow, CEO of the Australian service Meeco, told Ozymandias.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 20, 2014 5:52 PM John Owens John Owens  says:
Hi Loraine Great article and excellent points. There is one term that you use that is a common, yet critical, MDM error and that is "360 degree Customer view". This ought to be "360 degree Party view". 'Customer' is not a Master Entity, it is merely a Role, albeit an important Role, played by the true Master Entity of 'Party'. For MDM to be truly effective, enterprises need to have a complete view of ALL of the critical Roles that a Party plays with them, such as Supplier, Agent, Employee, Guarantor, Director, Recipient, Litigant, etc, etc. When enterprises centre their MDM on 'Customer' they are taking a myopic view that greatly undermines the overall level of service that they can provide and severely reduces the number and range of sales opportunities. Again, great article. Kind regards John Reply

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