We Collaborate #2 – Egosystem

The biggest sensor known to the human race is not a phone, it’s not a tablet and it’s certainly not a wearable: it is ‘you’. The social economy thrives on individuals that share their personal data with others while connecting value to context. Consumers are starting to realize how much this asset is actually worth, while increasingly being in doubt about privacy and who is monetizing their profile data. Enterprises that look to leverage this complex ‘egosystem’ must balance creativity in finding new ways of engaging customers with creating a mutual feeling of trust, transparency and benefits.

Being always online, always connected, routinely sharing information about themselves – their likes, dislikes, buying behavior, sports achievements, political opinions but also their whereabouts and even health status – consumers have now become digitally literate and ‘quantified’. What’s more they are beginning to leverage the tremendous value in the sum amount of the data they provide. They also feel that enterprises should think the same way and should be exploring new business models to use this mutual dataset for a better customer experience to sell more and – in the end – deliver bottom-line benefits for all.

With profile data as a core asset – as the new currency – consumers actually have become the keystone specie in a complex, connected ecosystem of stakeholders. They rule their own egosystem.

Enterprises that aim to leverage the power of egosystems can create a much better customer experience by analyzing and predicting against the profile data of its social network; Who however is entitled to make money with these personal assets and where exactly does customer intimacy end and does the creepy zone begin?

•       Will customers always value being ‘recognized’ by technology when entering a store?

•       Should a bank monetize day-to-day client transactions by selling it to retailers?

•       Could TV and radio channels do the same with viewing preferences of its audience?

•       Do customers appreciate targeted ads within the confines of social private conversations?

•       Will a credit card reject payment when its owner tries to order junk food for the sixth time this week and the wearable cholesterol sensors reach alert levels?

•       Should a restaurant give menu recommendations based on previous meal preferences – and those of friends – plus other client restaurants visits in the past?

Egosystems of today and tomorrow should be considered as a trading place where personal data may be bartered for products or services. It will be a meritocracy, in which there should be a healthy balance between ‘give’ and ‘take’. After all, consumers realize that the more value derived from their data, the more the big brother collective of enterprises, administrations and social friends will gain also.

If the egosystem is shared, who should benefit from this data?

Should anybody be allowed to extract data and make highly personalized offers, or even worse influence consumers’ behavior to let them do things one wants them to do? (think about how Facebook influenced the mood of many recently, just by reorganizing their news feed).

Clearly, from the consumer’s perspective, it is their egosystem: a place where they lead and define the rules, which others have to live by. A healthy thriving egosystem thus requires three simple guiding principles:

(1) Each individual owns and controls her egosystem

(2) It can be leveraged as long as nobody gets disadvantaged

(3) It is there to serve the individual (taking rule 1 and 2 into account)

Traditional business models do not cope well with egosystems; enterprises will need a radically different approach. To the companies out there still trying to find ‘privacy loopholes’ in order to continue to manage and own individual data using traditional marketing techniques: they are on borrowed time. The tables are about to turn.

Individuals will only share data if it provides them net personal value. Enterprises therefore have to fundamentally rethink how to propose long lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial. It means open and collaborative business models are now crucial to create that next level of symbiosis.

Trust and transparency are absolutely key. As a brand looking to leverage the sharing economy boom whilst maintaining consumer trust, the challenge is to adopt a balanced set of customer engagement principles. They will ensure that individual data is used to improve brand-to-consumer experience for the benefit of all; the social egosystem success depends on it.



Your expert: Kees Jacobs 

Part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2015 update series. See the overview here.