4th April 2019 5 minute read
Alan Linter, Innovation and Data Science Director at Capita Customer Management, outlines how changes in the use of and attitudes towards personal data will affect business in the coming years.
1) Consumer attitudes to personal data will slowly start to shift
Even after the advent of GDPR and scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, consumers still appear willing to provide their data to organisations that request it. Behaviours have not shifted much, but I think we are on the cusp of that situation changing.
Over the next three years people’s perceptions of the importance of their data – how it represents the ‘crown jewels’ of their life as a consumer – will begin to mature. We will start to see data becoming more locked down. One example of how that might happen is Tim Berners-Lee’s web decentralisation project Solid – a browser platform that makes it possible for you to click ‘approve’ to get full functionality, but still keep your data inaccessible and remaining fully under your control.
2) Some customers will take themselves off the data grid
I think we’ll see a more stark separation in people’s approaches to personal data than we do today. That will pose the challenge of organisations effectively having to operate at two speeds. There will be customers where they have a complete, rounded view because of the data they hold, but others – who could still be very important to them – who are not prepared to let any of their data go without being paid for it in some way.
3) Data analytics will become an upfront, real-time powerhouse
In the next three years, with all the computational power we have now, we’ll start to see analytics injected real time into the processing of customers and inform transactions as they are happening. One analogy would be the difference between old and new sat-navs. Old sat-navs would analyse a journey and give you the fastest route. Now, Google Maps uses constantly updated traffic information to inform and change that route as you’re driving it.
This is how it will become with customer interactions – the data will be used to add context and support real-time decisions.
4) We will live in the eye of the social media storm
I think you could also argue that we are in the ‘eye of the storm’ as far as personal data and social media are concerned. It’s difficult for us to take a perspective on it now, but in 20 years it’s likely that we’ll look back and think, what were we doing when we took all that information about our lives and made it totally public without any thought of what the risks might be?
5) The Internet of Things will struggle if it cannot use data to add real value
The Internet of Things will remain a slow burn. The technology and its capacity for generating data are exciting, but pressures on the economy will mean that the swap-out rate for existing technology will remain slow for some time. The next three years will see a lot of ‘because we can’ data-based technology. It will sound compelling as a concept, but will fall short of adding any real value to people’s lives.
6) Machine learning has huge potential but will still need caution
People are increasingly investing a huge amount of money in machine learning that is capable of creating highly predictive models operating at 80 or 90% accuracy. That sounds a fantastic achievement, and it is, but it still means that for a large chunk of time, and a large number of people, it’s getting it wrong. The ramifications of that could be significant and organisations will need to think carefully about how much ‘wrong’ they can afford.
7) 5G could unlock the potential of AR and VR applications on smartphones
The development of augmented and virtual reality applications on smartphones has stalled somewhat. In December Blippar (one of the pioneers of the technology) collapsed into administration, with the BBC commenting that big brand advertisers had concluded, “it was a gimmick whose time had already passed.” However that disillusionment may ease as 5G comes online, enabling a raft of innovative, on-the-move smartphone applications for AR and VR. New, mature services that leverage the power of 5G could yet see this technology born again.
8) Easily available cloud-based analytical tools will rewrite the rules of business agility
The accessibility the Cloud gives to powerful and easy-to-use data tools – with much less investment in hardware or licensing than used to be required – means that you are only really bound by the limits of your imagination. With the right skill sets and the ability to think about problems differently, there are some enormous opportunities around new business models.
In the next three years we’ll see the rate and speed at which organisations can experiment increase massively. It will enable them to become more like US tech companies where the model is about using data to act and adapt rather than plan and execute.
It will be about rapid deployment, and if it doesn’t work, using the data to go again or make the model better. The models that the data generates will be constantly learning and constantly self-improving – 40 iterations of an idea in a day, and at the end of the day you go ahead and do it.
To find out more about the use of data in today's business world, see our latest edition of Intelligence, 'The Power of Data'.