How connectivity is revolutionizing everything

Data: Data is the new digital currency

by Derrick Harris

Data has been called the new oil, a sentiment that’s particularly apt when discussing the web. Like oil in a machine, data makes the web run. Without data, Facebook is just an empty platform, and Google is just a search provider.

Data has also been called the currency of the digital age. That’s true in some regard — rather than pay cash for many popular web services, we offer our personal data — but the analogy has its limits. Before data is truly the new currency, it has to be more connected. Wherever we go on the web, and possibly in the physical world, our data needs to travel with us and work for us.

Connected data brings with it life-altering promise for those willing to embrace data as a currency. Imagine a digital profile traveling with you as you peruse the web, letting sites with analytics capabilities know who you are and what your preferences are. Without having to select preferences or even log in to each site, information, products, music — whatever you care about — would emerge.

But it doesn’t stop with the digital world. For example, a customer loyalty card connected to your digital profile swiped at the entrance to a building could bring about a truly personalized shopping experience full of unique offers and specialized services. Health-related data generated by specialized watches or other sensors on our bodies, location data from cell phones, data from our cars, you name it: When taken as a whole, it all goes toward creating a more optimized life.

Of course, the privacy concerns are nearly endless in a world of connected data, which makes some of today’s work around regulation very important. Consumers willing to embrace connected data need to understand what data any given site will collect and share, and consumers need a choice about how much they’re willing to share. With every paradigm shift comes trade-offs, and when we’re talking about sharing potentially personal information with databases everywhere, knowing what we’re giving up, and what we can expect in return, is of the utmost importance.