Prepare for a world of data abundance

Ten to fifteen years from now we will all have a full functional data avatar; a virtual persona made up of a complete set of data from our wearables, social media posts, bank statements, medical records, purchases, likes, genome, and so on. This is an inevitable outcome of developments in technology, regulation and corporate strategy.

The big question is: how will we build this data avatar, who will be in control and how will companies make money from it?

  • From a technical point of view the combination of an ‘always on’ connection (5G), AI and blockchain will bring the data avatar to life
  • Organisations will need a data strategy which now strangely enough is lacking in many companies. Such a strategy needs to make trade-offs between cost-of-ownership of data, monetisation of data and how to utilise data for value added services
  • Regulators will be faced with the question how to best protect individuals rights in a world of data abundance. The inevitable way to protect the individual’s privacy in this future scenario is by giving every individual control over their own data. As Aral Balkan once put it, data as an extension of our ‘self’ should be considered part of our ‘self’ and protecting this is a basic human right

And here I circle back to technology. I mentioned blockchain as an enabling technology because it is inevitable that individuals need to be in control of their data. Using blockchain we will be able to create data spaces which are secure and private by design and which can be controlled by individuals. That also means that organisations -through which products and services data is generated- are no longer in control of that data; they might not even be able to see the data. So they have to (re)consider their data business models and create new strategies. Regulators need to rethink current privacy laws which were made for centralised data systems and should instead protect individuals against companies coercing them into opening up their data for let’s say a discount on their health insurance.

If we want to prepare for a world of data abundance we need to start today.

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