Tag Archives: Personal Data Economy

Personal data – the fuel of the future?

Is Data really the world’s most valuable resource, the oil of its day?

That’s the scenario being posited as the lead story on the front page of The Economist – and what this titan of financial publishing and thought says, others listen to.

Of course, here at digi.me we have long been big believers in the power of data to transform and innovate, for individuals, businesses, society and even governments.

But we also know we’re riding the front of a wave, to some degree waiting for the world to catch up with us about the importance of both protecting and owning the elements that make up your very own, very personal digital footprint.

Thankfully, the importance of personal data is an issue that is pushing itself more and more to the forefront of discussion and awareness with every passing month. Incoming EU legislation, the GDPR, which has a great focus on individual power over personal data, will also force more conversations and visibility ahead of its implementation in a year’s time.

But the main Economist article and associated briefing is a great primer for those hoping to get up to speed on this important issue, straddling as it does the middle line between data’s power and the issues misuse of it can cause.

For example, it is clear that: “Data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change. Flows of data have created new infrastructure, new businesses, new monopolies, new politics and—crucially—new economics.

“Digital information is unlike any previous resource; it is extracted, refined, valued, bought and sold in different ways. It changes the rules for markets and it demands new approaches from regulators.

“Many a battle will be fought over who should own, and benefit from, data.”

But it also adds: “There is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy”. A new approach is needed.”

Its clarity, too, on what has fuelled this new approach: “What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable.” adds to its authority – this is a well-researched article, and all the more enjoyable for that.

It is a wide-ranging and very thorough piece, looking at all elements of the data economy (not just personal) and in particular what should be done with the Amazons, Googles and Ubers who own, or have access, to huge swathes of it.

Specifically looking at the personal data economy, it speaks of consumers and online giants being “locked in an awkward embrace…but…also showing symptoms of what is called “learned helplessness”: terms and conditions for services are often impenetrable and users have no choice than to accept them (smartphone apps quit immediately if one does not tap on “I agree”).”

It adds: “For their part, online firms have become dependent on the drug of free data: they have no interest in fundamentally changing the deal with their users. Paying for data and building expensive systems to track contributions would make data refiners much less profitable.”

Once again, we couldn’t agree more with this analysis of the current state of data trading – but we are confident that the Internet of Me, and the data revolution that platforms such as digi.me which operate under its principles will bring, are a full and proper solution to these issues. And moreover, a solution that is set to take the world by storm.

Understanding the Personal Data Economy

Explaining the purpose and vision behind giving users back control over their personal data can be one of the trickiest things we have to do.

While more and more people are becoming aware of what happens to their data behind their backs, and the personal data economy, including solutions such as ours, continues to grow apace, for those needing to start from the basics there is a lot to take in.

In future, that job will be made a lot easier by this excellent whitepaper from the Mobile Ecosystems Forum, which is the result of many interviews, including with our founder and personal data privacy expert Julian Ranger.

This, from the foreword, is an effective summing up of the problems facing the data harvesting industry today, and why a change to an individual-centric is both inevitable and beneficial to all: “Simply, the personal data economy describes a powerful new idea: letting individuals take ownership of their information so they can share it with businesses on their terms.

“Interest in the idea is growing for reasons of efficiency and ethics. The average individual has personal data stored in dozens of different locations. but it can be hard to access this information and then share it. Giving data back to individuals would solve this.

“It would also address the concerns some people have about the way companies accrue data about them and, indeed, many companies would welcome this too. Data harvesting is expensive and can be ineffective; companies are looking for an alternative.”

We have always talked about digi.me’s Internet of Me vision, where the user is at the centre of their connected life, being a true win-win for both users and businesses, and the paper explores this in depth in a way that is accessible and interesting for all.

I thoroughly recommend a full read of it – especially as at 33 pages it’s reasonably short and concise!



digi.me raises £4.2M ($6.1m) in Series A funding round

Digi.me, the pioneering start-up revolutionising how consumers and businesses harness the power of personal data, has secured £4.2m ($6.1m) from Series A funding led by global re-insurer Swiss Re.

With the new funds digi.me will accelerate the development and launch of its unique permissioned access platform, which will soon let users bring together wide-ranging data such as health and financial information and share it – if they wish – with businesses in exchange for personalised services, convenience or reward.

Businesses who are granted access to this 100% accurate, rich and deep personal data can develop truly personalised services for their users. Digi.me’s approach delivers a true win-win proposition, enabling a value exchange that is transparent and mutually beneficial, increasing consumer trust as well as opportunities for innovation.

Digi.me founder and chairman Julian Ranger said: “This is a watershed moment for digi.me. Following our extensive work and innovation in the concept of each of us truly owning and controlling our own personal data, this investment enables us to make the Internet of Me available to everyone, consumers and businesses alike.

“This concept, which is better for the individual and also better for businesses who can access rich data with full user permission, while meeting all new data protection rules such as the GDPR, will allow digi.me to accelerate its activities with a number of multi-national companies who we are already working with, and bring further major businesses into our new ecosystem.”

Daniel Ryan, Head of Digital Analytics Catalysts at Swiss Re, said: “People want to be in control of their data, and many have strong views over what they are willing to share and what they want to keep private.  We’re excited about digi.me because it will enable people to go one step further, and provide full transparency over how they can use their data to access services and benefits.”

Digi.me’s current version of the app, which gathers pictures and posts from the major social media networks, already has over 400,000 users in 140 countries. It proved that aggregating personal data streams to bring them to life achieves greater value and personal insight that is impossible to get when that data is scattered across the web.

With the digi.me app, users have their online life at their fingertips with tools including universal search across all platforms, daily flashbacks, the ability to create custom collections of content, data export and more. Soon, it will be possible for users to add their financial and health information. Other streams of personal data will be added in the future.

Digi.me’s unique approach and technology also guarantees that all user data remains wholly private to the individual. Digi.me doesn’t see, touch nor hold any of the personal data downloaded by the user. The app, now available on PC, Mac, iOS and Android, simply aggregates, normalises, indexes and encrypts the data allowing it to be searched, presented and shared in ways that were impossible until now.

The successful Series A funding builds on a very strong period of growth and influence for digi.me. The last 12 months saw the announcements of its partnerships with Toshiba, Lenovo and Evernote and the appointment of Jim Pasquale as Executive Vice President North America as part of its international expansion plans. The company also attracted prestigious members to its advisory board including internet visionaries Doc Searls and Gordon Bell, as well as industry leaders Rafael Marin, Stephanie Liston and Guy Whittaker.

Digi.me, which has now raised £7.1m ($10.2m) since launching in 2009, has huge ambitions and is working on projects with world-leading businesses in the health, finance, FMCG and telco sectors. It is also on course to set up a ‘living lab’ that will be announced later this year.

Digi.me is available on desktop for PC and Mac https://digi.me/download-trial and for mobile on iOS and Android http://try.digi.me/

Journalist? Find our press pack here

You, yes YOU, should be the most important thing in the Internet of Things

The second part of the extensive interview with our founder and chairman Julian Ranger has been published, focusing on why the IoT needs an Internet of Me to make it real and fix obvious and glaring privacy and security issues.

It’s a cracking read, and covers a lot of ground including the war on privacy, why data collection needs to move from behind us to in front of us, and why the way apps and devices handle data needs to undergo a fundmental shift.

I can’t recommend it highly enough if you have any interest at all in the field of personal data privacy and the personal data economy (which we all, of course, should have) – so here are a couple of choice quotes to whet your appetite:

“The Internet of Things at the moment is being built on data that is collected behind us. It needs to move in front of us. We need a path towards that, from the dark side to the light side. The IoT can’t work behind us, which is the way it’s been built today. That’s just loading more rubbish on a rubbish framework. There needs to be a new framework.”

“A large part of the cost of IoT is that all this data is being racked up into offline storage that companies are having to do. It is uneconomic to keep supporting old stuff. But what would happen if the data came to me first — not necessarily just into digi.me but wherever I choose to keep it — and I then decided where it went? If a business no longer wants to support it I can still keep this piece of kit and it keeps talking to my system for ever if I want, but more importantly I get to control where the data goes.”

Tempted? Excellent – it’s well worth your time.

And if you missed the first interview, which took place over on the Internet of Me forum which we sponsor and support, you can find that here.

Why the Daily Mail is completely wrong on personalised data

The tone of the headline sets the scene for the rest of the determinedly single focus article – evil holiday firms are “tracking your computer, scouring your old bookings..and even checking the births marriages and deaths!”

And for what purpose is this “spying” being done? So they can hike the price of your holiday, apparently, through personalised pricing based on knowing when, where and how you like to travel.

Now, businesses exist to make money, and will leverage opportunities they see – it’s naive to think otherwise. But holiday prices in this country are already hiked hugely during school and public holidays, for example, because data shows that more people travel then and supply and demands means they are forced to accept higher prices. So for the Mail to froth at the mouth about this seems a little horse and stable door.

In fact what the story is actually about is travel firms attempting to find out more about travellers through existing data to build a picture of what they might do in the future. So identifying who’s a last-minute panic holiday shopper, for eg, or who frequently books flights at rush hour times between major cities.

And, yes, the ultimate purpose behind these is likely to be personalised offers and advertising – not necessarily based on pricing. In fact, many of the firms in the article say that’s not the case (although they would, wouldn’t they?) – but it is certainly the reality that with multiple airlines or holiday companies offering similar products, over-priced holidays or flights are likely to be turned down, and potential customers lost.

The Mail, though, sees this as another example of Big Brother in our lives, and it comes hot on the heels of an article a few weeks ago that was similarly dismissive and scare-mongering about banks building up pyschological profiles of customers to offer targeted services.

But is it really so bad? I would argue not. The problem is less with the gathering of the data – personalised service, after all, is the Holy Grail of most businesses across all industries, because the more they know about us the more likely we are to buy.

No, personalisation can be good – when done well, when done with consent.

And this is the real problem, the one that the Mail doesn’t touch on at all because it’s too busy being outraged by the end product and not the process.

As Ctrl-Shift summarised in an excellent blog about the banking article: “The sad fact is that today’s standard model of customer data collection and use is almost perfectly designed to trigger these creepy feelings.

“This model is based on organisations collecting data about you, going through some process which you don’t understand behind your back, to do things to you. It can’t help but create a sense among customers that they are being watched and intruded upon, where they can’t trust the other party’s motives.”

As well as the underhand and non-permissioned way of collecting data like this, the end product is far from satisfactory – thin, not detailed and often 30-50 per cent incorrect.

So, really, it’s not working at all for users – who dislike the creepy, sneaky nature of web tracking, so are using ad blocking technology in their hundreds of millions – nor businesses, which need accurate data to fully understand and thus serve their customers.

The current data exchange model is broken, but a new one is emerging – a trust-based sharing economy with users in control of their own personal data and able to share it on their terms, for their benefit, only with those companies they want to deal with.

A tipping point will come, and soon, where this is the only future for personal data. And digi.me will be at the forefront with our Permissioned Access model, which will let users do just that, initially with their health and financial information.

But until then, the Mail is wrong. Personalised data is not the problem – it has the ability to enrich, deepen  and simplify each of our lives and experiences. The problem is how that data is acquired – but the storms of change are brewing, and we should all be ready to embrace them when they come.