A couple of weeks ago, I was in Amsterdam presenting at Broadband World Forum on “Prospering in the Identity Economy”. At UnboundID, we have a vision (that we’ve discussed in this blog many times) of a digital world where identity data goes through 3 key lifecycle phases:
- Personalization: The unified customer profile is leveraged by the service provider to personalize key services and applications, increasing customer experience and customer engagement.
- Productization: Identity data is packaged as a product.
In addition to presenting, I attended a session by Von McConnell, Director, Innovation and Advanced Labs of Sprint, and I was enthused to see that Sprint has a vision around productizing their data. Von called this vision “Big Data Analytics”. The reason I found this exciting is that there’s an intersection point – UnboundID is working with global telecommunications companies to monetize their most valuable asset: customer identity data. It’s fascinating to see that Sprint has a similar vision around monetizing their subscriber data.
Von brought up two key issues that service providers face in monetizing their data: privacy, and pricing the data. At UnboundID, we are in full agreement that those two issues must be worked out to create a true “economy” around this data. Today, users are not involved in the use of their data. Most models don’t include the user and that’s got to change. UnboundID is actively helping our customers build trust models that involve the customer in deciding how their data will be used, as well as meeting the guidelines laid out in the Consumer Bill of Rights.
In terms of the second item Von mentioned, customer data definitely has value, but there’s currently no open “market”. This means that all transactions are done in a one-off fashion, and the parties involved just arbitrarily agree to a price for data. Right now the only active market for this type of data seems to be advertisers who place ads with Facebook or Google customer bases, but there are other methods being explored. We’re helping our customers build business models around this data, and working with them to price the data appropriately.
It’s refreshing to see a Tier 1 telco actively working to become more than a “dumb pipe” to find ways to use their data to build their business. Whether you call it the Identity Economy or Big Data Analytics, the goal is the same: to make money with an important asset, while respecting the privacy of the user.