tl;dr — Human data == money, and, its expensive.
Your full name and your habits is what companies want, so they can make things for you or sell to you or help you.
Digital footprints. Every human who has ever been on the internet has left something that can lead me or the boogie man back to their house.
We sell human data (and my job is to make it pretty, simple and find more ways to sell it). Last year we made close to a billion pounds on this commodity. The value of human data is higher when it can be proved or proven the existence of the flesh and bone counterpart, otherwise its worthless.
Who buys this data? Everyone! The biggest buyers are marketing and sales. Although a fair amount of this data is sold to R&D labs for the betterment of humanity and scientific/technology breakthroughs. Bottom line: The more valuable the human, the more valuable their data. I can drop names but, that would violate some NDA.
What do they do with this data? Well, machines can learn your pattern. Feed them enough and with the right algorithms you’d be amazed what it can do — anywhere from predicting your options to charting out your existence for the next decade. Some algorithms are so advanced it can predict your health conditions if it gets hold of your dietary information. Companies like General Electrics (GE), Boeing and General Motors (GM) are consuming this data to build better, stable and more usable products.
We fed an algorithm enough of my travel and vacation data (except the last one I had); ran a test to see how accurate the prediction is. The algorithm nailed it, from destination to airline and hotel reservation to the tinniest detail such as my habit of being at the airport 4 hours before my flight, how much I’d spend on the trip to the airport. Our itinerary matched 82% (that’s because it was in alpha stages that time)
Now imagine, logging into a site like expedia, only to find the site handed your vacation to you on a silver platter — everything you wanted in under a minute. It nailed the numbers, the airline, the seat and even your dietary preferences and kept it well within your budget! Would you even bother fiddling with the site to find a cheaper option? What if there was one and you didn’t bother to find it, because you got what you wanted?
I’ve got two words for you (or rather one buzz word) targeted advertising, and these are not the types that follow you around in web pages or youtube.