The growing value of data

December 07 2017
Executive Education INCAE

Equifax, a United States-based consumer credit reporting agency that aggregates information on more than 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide, admitted to having suffered a data breach of 143 million users. As a result, they face a class action lawsuit of up to $ 70 billion.

The problem is that cases like these are more and more frequent. The advantage is that little by little there is more awareness of the need to protect private data, as happened in August in India, where the Supreme Court approved a landmark ruling that reinforces the right of citizens to privacy as a "fundamental right" . 

In between there are many debatable concepts. The discussion about privacy, security and sovereignty becomes more complex in this era of hyper-connected consumers, where it has already been said that data is the new oil wells.

The question posed by this data revolution is: Who will be the winners and losers as the era of open data takes off and grows? For this, it is important to analyze the value of data from different perspectives: that of an individual, corporations and government.

People, who generate most of the data, and are its legitimate owners, end up sharing it, sometimes with explicit consent and many times with implicit but uninformed consent. People trade their private data in the digital economy for more personalized options - goods and services, free apps, and software - but they don't get any monetary benefit from this exercise. 

Corporations have been the main beneficiaries of this data revolution. In 2006, oil and energy companies dominated the list of the world's six most valuable firms, but in 2016, the list is dominated by data firms such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. Platform companies and data aggregators leverage individual data by selling to ad networks and marketers looking to target specific segments, influence buyer behavior, and make dynamic pricing decisions.

The world produces 2,5 quintillion bytes per day, and 90% of all data has been produced in the last two years. By "data" we mean simple, raw and unorganized facts and consist of Basic Subscriber Information (BSI), transactional data and content data.

Transactional data is communication-related information such as IP addresses, device information used by subscribers to communicate, and content data is the substance or meaning of a communication.

BSI and transaction data are collectively known as non-content data and were traditionally lower in the value hierarchy compared to content data, but this has changed in recent times and non-content data has been seen to provide insights. review.

When this data is organized, processed and given a context, it can be referred to as information. This information is used by companies and is essential in decision-making.

Data can also be segregated to a degree of openness or privacy. The degree of openness depends on local and social norms. Public data, like any other public good, is characterized by its non-rival and non-excludable nature.

A person's income is private data and must be protected from unauthorized access to prevent misuse. 

Finally, sensitive data is highly sensitive and quite personal data, such as a person's voting preferences. Sensitive data is often independent and inaccessible to the government (with a few exceptions) and corporations with the individual in full ownership.

There is no standard practice or established formula for evaluating the value of data, but many more nations are becoming aware of the enormous value that the data economy is creating. 

According to the European Commission, by 2020 the value of personalized data will be 1 trillion euros, almost 8% of the EU's GDP. As this trend grows, there will be an increasing conflict between the value of data and privacy and individual consent.

The fundamental problem will be "Who owns the information and has intellectual property rights over it?" 

Consumers also need to reap the benefits of their self-generated data. Data has value in understanding, predicting, and influencing individual behavior and decisions, but it is exactly this power that makes it dangerous. 

As the world moves toward a universal online presence and open data systems, it is important to continue discussing open data issues and working to solve them, rather than viewing and evaluating data through the sole economic goal of a business. product.

Article by Vasudha Thirani, DigiIndia Foundation Associate, and Arbind Gupta, Chief Technology Officer of the Indian Bhratiya Janata Party, published in the Agenda section of the World Economic Forum.


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