Let’s be frank, we are in an age where everything is being recorded. Who knew Mr Orwell would be so right all those years ago?
For over a decade we’ve been used to seeing CCTV cameras watching us all over the country. These have provided valuable information for both the public and private sector. The thing about these devices is that they are generally visible recorders and, as in the name, are closed circuit, which means not a broadcast platform for the media and therefore ring-fenced to some degree in who benefits from the information recorded.
In recent years, however, industry has developed a far more detailed and covert tracking capability – online.
The UK Government’s Future Identities report highlights Generation Z will soon be coming of age and start infiltrating the workplace and it’s these guys that have been born into the digital era. They are skilled online and generally are far more open to embracing the internet with all its pro’s and con’s. This in itself is likely to produce another sharp increase in data generated around business without fear.
The report backs up the notion that our cultures are changing due to technological advancements as we immerse ourselves into our digital environments. It is this immersion that is fuelling mass online interactions and providing insight that has never been available before.
We are likely to become more insular in real-life, yet more social in our digital lives.
With the advent of our mobile culture, lines are being blurred in terms of work/home life. We are now working from home more, bringing both personal and work personas together.
Our traditional views and preconceptions as marketers of audiences are shifting and morphing into ways we’d never imagined. And these should be seen as opportunities to improve on our insight and targeting.
Pro’s and con’s
The tracking and understanding from the digital footprints we leave is helping organisations recognise individuals – and profile them. This in turn is shaping businesses with their strategy on how they communicate with individuals.
The positive for the marketing industry is that it helps take the guesswork out of business decisions.
As reputable and savvy companies, we are enhancing our communications, using these vast information sources, to ensure they are both relevant and timely – helping to reduce the amount of irrelevant marketing, so communications can be based on individuals, not as a generic group segment.
On the other hand, there are less scrupulous companies out there that could take advantage of personal data. Selling it off, and using it for scams, or creating cyber-crime through fake profiles. And it’s these that may spoil the party concerning consumers’ trust and the sharing of their data, reigniting the fear factor.
Victims or volunteers?
We pretty much all share information via social media in one form or another. We know these are public networks. The benefit to us is free social networking, but what is the cost?
These huge platforms aren’t funded out of the goodness of, say, Zuckerberg’s heart. They are businesses in their own right. Their success relies on income, and that income is generated from insight from the data held which also feeds their advertising revenues. So every time you ‘like’, share or engage with something these are generating insight for organisations.
The same applies to cookies. These allow tracking capabilities within websites. When we ‘accept’ cookies this is again leaving a digital trail.
So, as users, are we aware we are funding our own Big Brother?
With your company hat on you have to make sure you use this data effectively and provide benefits for your customers & prospects to gain trust through relevance and not abusing the privilege. This in turn will generate a far more efficient marketing engine.
With your personal hat on we all need to be careful who we share our data with, and where we share it.
Data (whether big or not) is the new digital currency. It’s here to stay. So we had better get used to it and, if we are so inclined, act to protect our personal information.