Tech viewpoint on democratising data
A view from Omaid Hiwaizi

Tech viewpoint on democratising data

"Uber has more tracking power than the police," Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, shrieked in The Times recently.

He was complaining that the company could use technology to locate people in real time, which the police are forbidden from doing.

The already huge and emerging social- and service-based apps that inspire new behaviours collect the richest data. Data that’s individual, behavioural, real-time and, if it reaches scale, universal.

This kind of behavioural data is far richer than those in marketing. It delivers nuanced understanding about the context of individuals – consumption occasions, shopper missions, cultural habits – and enables the building of strategies that fulfil individual needs in real time. CRM-style data based on purchase history and media engagement is getting there but, compared with the possibilities of rich behavioural data, we continue to interact with individuals at arm’s length.

Social- and service-based apps that inspire new behaviours collect data that’s individual, real-time

As Hogan-Howe says, it’s these tech platforms that wield understanding of what people are doing, thinking and feeling rather than the state or, indeed, brands. The state’s solution appears to be the "Snooper’s Charter", which is going down like a lead balloon. For agencies, programmatic media buying is a step in this direction. While some creative technology-based campaigns – British Airways’ "the magic of flying" being a prime example – are embracing the possibilities, these are few and far between.

So what about people? Most societal conversation about data focuses on privacy. While security is of key importance, it masks a broader conversation about the value of data for individuals. What’s the value to me? Well, my Fitbit has helped me lose 60 pounds – that’s priceless because it means I’ll live longer. More so, its league table is helping my family get fitter. I think the data conversation should focus on how this kind of value can be distributed to people more democratically.

I would expect that, when a mass audience properly understands this value, they will be keen to import their social/financial/health/food/physical data from multiple sources on to platforms such as Tictrac, creating their own dashboards and apps to enjoy the enormous benefits. This kind of value exchange drives the successful data-rich platforms.

What does this mean for brands and brand-building? Exchanging personal, useful and inspiring brand experiences for data must become the norm, not the exception.

Omaid Hiwaizi is the president of global marketing at Blippar