When will Privacy regulators tackle data access and data portability?

Just looking at the German Competition Authorities decision around Facebook and their interpretation of the use of Consent. That will have a big impact.

Whilst I’m no big fan of GDPR (overhype and under delivery so far versus what could have been), it does seem that by the time of the first anniversary of it going live that the regulation will be starting to show its teeth and have some real impact.

The problem with that is it will probably take a decade to deliver real improvement, and even that will only be on the ‘defence’ side of personal data capabilities. That is to say, a ten year to eliminate the bad stuff which just should not be happening.

So far the regulators seem to be ignoring the more enabling the ‘offence’, ie the more enabling aspects such as data access and data portability.

Of course one could argue that it is not the regulators job to build out positive capability on the side of the individual. I would argue otherwise; if more bandwidth was put on the positive side of what individuals could do with proper access to their data then a lot of the bad things would go away more quickly. Nodding towards data access and data portability and then doing nothing about clear failure to deliver helps no one;

A Classy Way to Go…

The 31st of July marked the end of my favourite online transaction manager service – Wesabe (www.wesabe.com).

I’ve been using the service regularly for the last few years. I did not rely on it, just liked quite a lot about it, such as that:

– It moved financial transaction data from the supplier side to the individual side, and allowed a whole set of tagging and reporting options

– It thus allowed the individual to build a more complete view of their finances than available anywhere else

– It offered a range of security options around the data movement, to suit individual preferences

– It enabled data portability from the start

Unfortunately this last point proved key, because Wesabe announced that they had to shut up shop; I guess the business was not financially viable (yes, that is somewhat ironic….). The viability of genuinely individual-centric internet businesses is a post for another day, but it was the way that Wesabe managed the shut down that impressed:

The key features of the shut down that I think were handled well were:

– Communication, users were given plenty of advance warning; none of this ‘here one day and gone the next’

– Export options, yes that built-in data portability came into it’s own, a range of competitors emerged with ‘import your wesabe’ data propositions to ease the service transition pain

– Enabling and encouraging an open source project to emerge from the ashes

– Complete deletion of data after closure; how many times have we seen the customer list treated as an asset that can be sold off to the highest bidder?

So, Marc et al at Wesabe; thanks for the service and the learnings while it lasted; and thanks for such a classy shut down; and good luck with your next venture.

The Information Masters (not)

This post by Jerry Fishenden on Government IT spend made me thinkĀ  back to the Information Masters research and book led way back in 1999 by my sometime consulting colleague John McKean. I find it bemusing and a bit depressing that despite this excellent piece of research, and the associated research having been around now for ten tears – the vast majority of organisations still carry on believing that throwing money at technology is the way to getting maximum return from their information assets. Certainly from Jerrys’ post, it would seem that UK government us very much in this camp.

To re-cap, for those who have not read the book, the research study interviewed senior execs from 30 or so organisations across a range of sectors, worldwide that were noted for their advanced use of customer and related information. It asked them to explain what had started them on their journey to information mastery, what they found out along the way, and what they would do differently if they had the chance. This qualitative research uncovered seven information-related competencies (information management, leadership, development of an information culture, organisational structure to optimise information flows, process management, people management and technology management). These competencies and their impact are explained in detail in the book – the key point made by these top performing businesses was that they invested their time and money across these competencies in a balanced way; i.e. ALL are important, and over/ under/ non investing in any one of them would have limited the overall success of the initiative.

However, for me, the most interesting part of the Information Masters story lies in the quantitative assessment of how the typical organisation (i.e. more than 95% of them according to the survey). In short, they spend most of their money on the technology, and pay lip service to the other six competencies. This comparison is shown in the chart below, along with a view on the return on investment available from each approach.

elements of information competency

Unfortunately for us UK taxpayers, our successive governments and the civil service seem to be very much in the ‘throw money at technology’ camp.

CRM…. meet VRM, the ‘three meeting theory’

I’ve had a couple more validations of this theory in the last few weeks, so thought i’d best write it up. My hope is that we can use the upcoming VRM Workshop to get the VRM story refined and presented so that we can reduce the number of meetings required to get to the detail of why an organisation should consider ‘VRM enabling’ itself.

So, here’s my theory:

It takes three, fairly in-depth meetings before a smart, typically senior CRM/ Customer Management/ Customer Experience executive in a large customer-facing organisation to genuinely ‘get’ VRM and where we are coming from with the project and mind-set – and thus what’s in it for them.

Here’s how it usually pans out in my experience:

Meeting One: This usually happens on the back of an existing contact who has heard/ read some snippet about ‘VRM’, or can also be in one of the more in-depth, small-group presentations that I and others have run in the last 12 months or so (mainly UK).

The outcome of this meeting, from the perspective of the CRM/ CM Exec is usually along the lines of ‘These people are well meaning, are obviously committed to their ‘hobby’, but a bit mad and naive as to what us big organisations have to deal with; but at least i’ve done my bit for keeping an eye on innovation in my space’. Alternately, the shorter meetings can be driven by ‘don’t these people realise that we’ve just spent a zillion pounds on our CRM application and need to get that to work because we’ve told everyone it will’.

Most CRM….meet VRM discussions finish at this stage….for now anyway.

Meeting Two: Let’s say that at best one in twenty of the above meetings end up with a follow up meeting, and that many of these are through personal ongoing contacts (where CRM/ CM work is going on in parallel); or that sufficient time has passed since meeting one for an update to be of possible value.

This is the meeting during which ‘the penny drops’….but typically only in connection with a very small nugget of opportunity, often one which is front of mind for the exec at that point in time. Examples would include:

– yes, I know our data quality is shockingly bad….., you mean we could work with our customers to fix that…..? Or

– so you mean we could accept these highly qualified leads into our existing CRM system with hardly any tweaks….? Or

– so our customers can help us refine/ define our new products if we engage in the right way?

The outcome of this second meeting is usually….’let me think about that’; and ‘is there anything up and running as a genuine VRM application that I can have a look at?’

Meeting Three: So now we’re down to a very small number of ‘almost converts’. These third meetings are typically much more ‘CRM/ CM/ CE Exec driven’ and are about:

– where do I see this stuff? (i.e. we are usually showing some of the behind the scenes development projects at this stage)

– how can I access it to play around with it, prototype it and build proofs of concept in my domain?

– can you meet up with our innovation folks to talk about a possible pilot?

Underpinning these third meetings is usually the realisation that what we VRM folks are talking about actually has a very sound economic argument, and also that we are about ‘win win’ rather than consumer activism for the sake of it.

What happens after meeting three? I don’t know to be honest, we’ve not had any yet that i’d count as such – although there are a couple lined up for June and July. I think for those meetings the challenge falls back onto the VRM community, or those of us building VRM type solutions – we need to be able to answer the ‘meeting three challenges’ loud and clear.

What does that mean for Project VRM and our workshop this week? I think we need to get better at telling our big and complex story, probably in bit sized chunks and in accessible ways – a good web site for example. I think we also need to focus on getting some real, live pilots and proofs of concept out there to be engaged with. Let’s pick up on that on Friday.

Lastly, i’d have to add that the record for ‘getting it’ is actually nothing like my three meeting theory – it was about twenty minutes and the only question at the end of that was ‘where do we sign up’?