Empowering the Individual

In the first instalment of this series I discussed data empowerment and exploitation by the big technology firms. More importantly how inference will never understand the true person behind the digital data because only you really know yourself.

Generally people get it — they are being exploited and technology companies are getting very rich and powerful from selling our data without our explicit consent. However we love the convenience they give us. Whether it be the shoes I was looking at last night appearing on my Instagram feed or that AirBnB in Norfolk being just what I had been looking for. The technology companies “make life easier, I don’t have to think, just one click and it’s mine. Simple”.

This is the power of marketing. These technology companies are just the new marketing channels and they don’t have to be particularly sophisticated. We look at something online and then it keeps appearing in our online interactions until we buy it. We are shown things people like us buy, and we feel the need to “keep up”. It has become a virtuous cycle. We are addicted to the simplicity of buying things we WANT, not the things we really NEED.

It is hard to compete with this convenience and so to address the exploitation it brings. Instead of companies pushing products and services based on what they THINK an individual might be interested in, we believe that individuals should be able to request what they need, when they need it. Furthermore, this should only be done following the explicit consent of the individual to the use their data. This gives back control to the individual, whilst maintaining the convenience.

The great reclamation of data, it is all about ME

So what is the process of returning our most valuable asset, our identity, to its rightful owner — ME? How do I ensure that my data is not misused by companies, it is not spread around in fragments and that it is not sold by the few to the many. How do I ensure that I gain from what is rightfully mine?

Our aim at Jigsaw XYZ is to empower the individual, through technology, to own ALL of their personal data and so be the single source of their digital identity. Individuals should be able to grant or revoke access to companies that they trust to use their data. This is the future we believe in and it is aligned to what new data regulations are trying to achieve. This is what we call Mass Empowerment (ME).

Let’s be clear, this will not work with incremental thinking. This is a totally new way of operating, one which provides simplicity, fairness and personalisation, but where I own my data.

ME, and the Marketplace

Our philosophy was, the best way to learn is to start building and iterate from there, so Jigsaw XYZ and its partners started to build a marketplace model where at its core the individual is in control of their digital data. We are two years into this journey. This is a new model where the corporate world will be rebuilt around the specific needs of the individual, expressed as digital requests for products and services.

Jigsaw’s marketplace enables individuals to publish their need, with the aid of intelligent digital technology. The expression of need is what we call the “Digital Voice”, it is a defined set of data points that represent a specific need. For example if an individual is running out of money and they need to borrow money, the digital voice would contain how much they require and over what time period. The more data that is shared by the individual, the more a company will be able to personalise their offerings. Most important of all however, the individual must consent to the data being shared in their request.

Requests are routed through a digital exchange into a marketplace of providers, which using the previous example would be lending companies. Providers can respond with offers (and/or quotes) based on the products and services they have available. Better still some providers will be able to personalise products around the explicit needs of the individual based on their data.

This isn’t about inferring what the individual needs, this isn’t about sending us adverts that are easy to click on knowing our search history. This is about me knowing my own needs and being able to express this need digitally. If I am able to publish my need, it removes the requirement for providers to guess and use statistical inference to try to predict what I am about to do next.

One of the most important implications of this model, as it matures, is that it allows providers to personalise their offerings around an individual’s needs. Mass Personalisation will be at the core of every organisation in ten years, as companies will be built around understanding an individual’s needs and building bespoke products and services to match these.

We see this as a complete reinvention of providers’ current capabilities, “mass-market” offerings will become redundant as personalisation becomes the differentiator, then the norm. Providers will use this model to cut spend on product development, marketing, sales and customer channels by better understanding what I need and when I need it.

If we get this right, the new marketplace model will not only have a fundamental impact on our lives but also every consumer-facing company. Therefore we are building the technologies that enable companies to listen and interpret the need for customer and then personalise their products and services, moving them away from commodity mass market offerings.

This new model requires trust. Providers need to demonstrate credibility, reliability and personalisation as they respond to an individual’s requests. If they do, individuals will be more likely to share enriched personal data with providers and so through this increasingly enriched data providers will begin to understand an individual’s WHY, not just their WHAT or HOW.

The future is all about ME

To be clear, today providers across all industries are not good at listening, interpreting or personalisation. Therefore we are talking about a total reinvention. A new world built around me, the individual. We know this new data empowerment model will not catch on overnight. Traditional companies fear change, and this is CHANGE.

Our mission is to accelerate this way of operating and to help it become the minimum standard for providers to interact with individuals. On a more personalised, digital basis, using quotes, offers, and executions based on a published explicit request by the individual. We are defining a new digital language to represent the need of individuals. Adopting these new protocols will move providers into the digital age and remove the need for intermediaries and reliance on statistical inferences. It will allow providers to reduce their cost to serve by re-inventing the way they create products and provide services.

For those who understand exchanges, the message flow between the individual (requests) and the providers (quotes, offers and execution confirmations) generates an abundance of market and consumption data. Using this data we are able to identify gaps in specific markets, changing customer needs and inefficiencies in pricing, identifying opportunities to enhance or create new products and services.

The best way to bring this vision to life is to explain it in the context of something we all do, manage our personal finances. In the next chapter we will discuss how we are implementing our model in the financial services industry, with a set of partners, to rebuild personal finance around the needs of the individual.