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The Data Conundrum – Part 2 of 2 ‘Dollars for Data?’

In my last blog, I talked about the existing landscape of ‘big data’, where technology is giving brands access to unprecedented amounts of personal information.

But what next? What do brands do with all this data? Should they do anything at all?

A few companies are all set to take advantage. Start-up company Teckler, launched in May, is one. On the surface, it's a social media site for sharing and discovering text, audio, photos, or video (coming soon), much like any other Facebook clone. But unlike a normal social network, which sells ads and data and keeps the cash, Teckler splits all its data-derived revenue 70-30 with users. was initially founded as a way for people and businesses to scrub their online reputations, and allows users share selected titbits of personal information – your income, or the make and model of your car – in exchange for perks, like discount offers or loyalty memberships. This kind of permission-based marketing has the potential to raise a lot of awareness about the data harvesting that companies are already doing, by asking them to pay for the peeking.

A Swedish company called Flattr has been using a system of micropayments, allowing people to be rewarded for providing useful information either through self-expression or just in the course of daily interactions – simply rewarding people for what they do and share on the web." That is, if users ever realize the true value of the assets they've sunk into Facebook and Twitter.

Over the next 10 years, the intelligent use of data will form part of company’s competitive advantage, alongside reach, track record and its people. At the same time, the loss of customer data is one of the biggest risks to a modern business – as consumers become increasingly aware of security issues, and of the value of their data, privacy is moving away from its former locus —primarily in operations – towards the heart of a business’s relationship with its customers. Privacy, it seems is increasingly important to a company’s wider reputation.

Data could either be a powerful tool, or a poisoned chalice. However, it is certainly no silver bullet. As the world of big data continues to unfold around us, we would do well to remember the old adage: data is only as useful or intelligent as the people who interpret it.