What will midata mean?
Chris Combermale, executive director of the Direct Marketing Association, shares his views on the midata concept.
Consumer data access is an issue that should be high on the agenda of any business that depends on collecting and using consumer data for commercial activities. While some innovative companies have made great progress in meeting this challenge, many others are lagging behind. This is why the Government is proposing to give consumers a statutory right to obtain an electronic copy of data that companies hold about them. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills recently launched a consultation with a view to increasing the strength of its ‘midata’ programme because to date few companies have voluntarily signed up to the scheme.
The Government’s approach to selling the midata concept to business is interesting. The Consumer Minister Norman Lamb says that “Throughout the world a shift is already occurring towards a different approach to personal data, which recognises the value of data to the consumer as well as to business.” This view certainly agrees with research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). According to the findings of Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks, 85% of consumers would prefer to hold their own personal data and exchange it with companies when they choose. Indeed, more and more consumers view their personal data as a form of capital to be collected and traded for better service, better offers and better long-term benefits.
Unusually, the lawmakers appear to be ahead of the market in recognising the commercial advantage available to companies that hand control of the data they hold about their customers to the consumers themselves. There is a great opportunity for significant cost cutting as digital data sharing between individuals and organisations allows them to align services between individuals and businesses, communications and innovation more closely to the actual state of consumer demand. This will also help unleash the potential of a new economic asset, which involves consumers economically as active producers of personal data, as well as consumers of products and services. Of course, this will empower consumers to improve the way in which the markets work.
While the midata programme is certainly a novel approach, it would be far better for consumers to allow the creativity of the market to arrive at a solution than to use legislation. With more and more people now understanding the market value of their data, companies will have to innovate and outdo their competitors to offer the most compelling benefits to encourage consumers to share their information. This form of competition-based self-regulation would be the most effective way of enabling people to gain greater access to the data companies hold about them.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Chris Combemale .
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