Year Ahead: Why the data industry needs less and more

matteysteve 2I’ve been working in data for over 30 years now, and I’ve seen so much change. The current rapidity of change in our industry is unprecedented, and brings opportunity and threat to us in equal measure. All in all, an exciting and challenging year ahead for us all indeed.

I thought that I would focus on what I think there will be more of, and where I think we need a little bit less.

Well, there is certainly going to be more data to contend with, because I believe this is the year the Internet of Things comes of age. Christmas stockings everywhere will be bulging with gifts of machines for your home, pumping out data on your musical tastes, food consumption, fuel consumption, how many times you make tea and more. I find this a fascinating change. Its new data. Information we, as marketers, only knew at a high level, not household or individual.

I mentor on an accelerator programme for businesses entering the IoT space with their products. This year, every single company I met with an IoT product in every sector said: “The hardware is just the vehicle, we are setting up a data business.”

And they’re right. Data is the ultimate product, those who create the most valuable data with their particular IoT device will be very successful indeed.

Less hype please…I can’t escape hype on GDPR and blockchain. Can we stand back and take a pragmatic approach to both please? I have no doubt fellow commentators have spoken about GDPR elsewhere. I think the reality is that most companies are going to make some kind of fist of starting to get compliant by the deadline and the route to full compliance will take a little longer.

We haven’t particularly been helped as an industry by the regulators and industry bodies in getting enough clarity in enough time in certain areas of GDPR, which has been disappointing, but also frustrating in getting things done. I believe they need to exercise a little common sense leniency in dealing with companies who are moving towards compliance (which most seem to be), rather than seeing the deadline as an absolute.

At the end of the day, this is a piece of legislation aimed at shifting the power of personal data back to the consumer. And it does, and that’s right and fair. We are all heading the same way now, and those companies that don’t get there quickly enough will pay in their pocket as consumers vote with their feet.

As for blockchain, I believe I may not be alone in not quite “getting” it yet.

And there’s the rub for me. I think it is unproven in practice and we still need many more use cases (to use a bit of jargon) to prove the point for personal data applications. More companies need to test the waters yet in pilot scenarios before we can make a judgement call on how blockchain may impact, or not, the world of personal data.

One for 2019, or 2020… by which time AI will have matured and the machines will have taken over and be writing these articles.

Steve Mattey is head of operations at Blueberry Wave

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