We Collaborate #2 - Egosystem
The best connected sensor in the world 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.
Always online, always connected, routinely sharing information about themselves — likes, dislikes, buying behavior, sports achievements, political opinions, also their whereabouts and even health status — consumers have now become digitally literate and ‘quantified’. What’s more, they’re beginning to leverage the tremendous value of the data they provide. They feel that enterprises should think the same way and explore 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 species 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. The latest, visionary future report of the Consumer Goods Forum, 'Rethinking the Value Chain' stipulates this to a great extent. But who exactly is entitled to make money with these personal assets, however, and where exactly does customer intimacy end and 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 of ‘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.
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 consumer behavior to let them do things someone wants them to? Think about how Facebook influenced the mood of many recently, just by reorganizing their news feed.
Clearly, from the consumer’s perspective, it’s 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 their egosystem
2. It can be leveraged as long as nobody gets disadvantaged
3. It’s 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’re 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.
In order to help build trust with consumers and shape the way companies, retailers and manufacturers use consumer data, the industry is urged to adopt clear principles for consumer engagement. The Consumer Goods Forum's Consumer Engagement Principles -as developed with representatives of the industry from across the world - address exactly that. Principles such as these will benefit all stakeholders as the industry safeguards consumers’ data and nurtures greater consumer trust. It's the one and only way straight to the heart of each and every egosystem.