Thanks to the internet, a wealth of data on individuals that used to be under lock and key in various paper and proprietary databases is swarming around the ether (protected and unprotected). Consider the following consumer information that is lurking on the net:
- deep user profile information on social networks (ranging from accurate info on linkedin to more questionable data on myspace) along with the strength of our social networks (e.g. size and quality of people links in our network)
- detailed household transaction/purchase data stored in online billpay (I've heard over 65% of online users engage in billpay now)
- credit and health scores for individuals
- behavioral data on what sites and content we view from companies like Revenue Science
- data on our intent from search engine logs
- all sorts of demographic data from site registrations
- up to date contact information from sources such as jigsaw and plaxo
- location data based on our appointments stored on web calendars
- and of course all the purchase data from e-commerce sites
There's probably a lot more sources of data but you get the point. This is good and bad depending on who will use the data for what. Although some companies that facilitate the above data would like to think they own it, the consumer is really in control (and maybe the companies have some rights to it). Rather than focus on new businesses to suppress others from obtaining such info, I'm more excited about opportunities to empower the consumer to get more out of life with this information - in an effortless and secure manner.
There's an opportunity to ask permission of the user to aggregage this information and deliver a super-targeted profile to those willing to reach me - without revealing who I am (via a trusted third party). These thoughts aren't new as you can see related thinking at attentiontrust.org but I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg.
Mayfield EIR Tom Patterson and I are exploring this space and welcome your ideas.