Data management has become a social debate; unnecessarily so. Data belongs to users and that should be obvious. Companies should get it, governments should get it. No one should be able to do anything with private data unless it was first informed to the user and data exchanges should only happen with expressed user approval.
The Facebook scandal has uncovered errors and attitudes of dubious morality, such as gathering information from users who are not even in their social network.
The most disturbing thing is that the Director of Product Management of Facebook affirmed that it is a common practice.
Although the accusing finger has focused on Facebook, we have the certainty that the rest of the data mining empire carry out similar practices. Other social networks, apps, GPS systems, wearables and so on, gather and exchange data without the user’s approval.
We live surrounded by data. We generate them constantly, and today more than ever, technologies allow us to collect and analyze data about when business decisions are made: marketing, logistics, customer management, operations and much more.
The new General Data Protection Regulation aims to establish a better framework for European users about the management of all personal information, and some say it is really aimed at limiting the enormous power of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
Some say that the new regulation is being a real headache for all companies and that even the most advanced companies seek time trials to adapt, while most are still discovering the data they have available.
This scenario is serving so that many companies, large or small, begin to pay real attention to the information they handle, put order and realize the enormous possibilities at their reach.
All companies have data, and increasingly use them to drive their decisions.
In the world of marketing, for example, digital environments allow accurate measurement of customer behavior to offer more targeted content that fits better with their interests.
But that is not the bad side of data management. We must not demonize the use of information, as it can serve to offer us value.
The worst side is when companies use data to sell people’s lives without regard for privacy or for providing more personalized experiences with which to solve specific needs.
If this is transferred, for example, to the world of health, the possibilities of making early diagnoses and offering personalized treatments are exponential.
Is it not beneficial for the user? It depends.
The data is like a knife. If you do not know how to handle it, you can hurt yourself. If you use it with bad intentions, you can nail anyone, anytime, anywhere.
No one doubts that proper data management is useful. Therefore, beyond the possibilities of big data technologies and the regulations to control them, we must appeal to three fundamental aspects: Training, experience and talent.
Without them we cannot manage, contextualize or use the data with an ethical basis to do common good, both for the business and for the user.
On the other hand, the controversy of Facebook is causing the user to abandon their ingenuity, which is a good thing.
When we download a mobile app, how many times do we read the legal conditions and privacy policies before accepting them?
Maybe now we begin to value both our data and to demand more in exchange for them.
Or did we believe that all the software was free?
Our information is the new way to pay for access to technologies that make our lives easier, such as Google Maps, social networks, or increasingly, voice managed systems.
Many people are surprised and scandalized, but we have been looking the other way for a long time while enjoying “free” apps.
Demonizing Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple is fair to a certain degree, because they have purposely used our data to sell us as the product, not to sell us products or services.
One cannot save any of these companies for their continuous drive to innovate while drastically invading people’s lives.
It is a fallacy that they could not innovate without violating out privacy. They simply said so and most users believed them, while others did not care.
Who would say 10 years ago that the race for the car without a driver would not be led by any automotive firm?
Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and the new Driving Experience
Few like Tesla or Google have seen that, if we do not drive, the vehicle becomes a space open to leisure and the consumption of content or advertising. This brings us, again, to the habits of the user, which generate tons of data.
The fact that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple use our data in exchange for everything they offer us, is something that we must not accept.
Several companies, including car manufacturers, have developed early diagnosis systems so that the customer can know when to go to a workshop.
Rubber giants, like Goodyear, work on smart tires that record data on rubber temperature and pressure.
The speed of coupling to new tools, however, is not the same for everyone.
Adapting is not easy. It requires time, money and training.
Nobody wants to stay behind. The after-sales business is a juicy one.
It amounts to 240 billion euros in the EU, the second largest market in the world after the US.
It is not surprising that everyone wants a piece. Bosch, for example, launched a predictive analysis service that collects vehicle information: battery status, fuel filter and braking system.
From an analysis of the data, it notifies the driver of the status of the car and indicates whether a part has to be replaced.
Next year, it will start making predictive failure analyzes. For this you will use the analysis of data stored in the cloud. This and other uses of data are supposed to be positive, because they save costs for the owners of the vehicles. It’s similar to what Formula 1 cars have.
Thus, managers of fleets, mechanics and drivers can be aware (through your mobile or computer) of what happens in the vehicle in real time. From there, they can extract information such as tire pressure, the state of the battery, the brakes and the engine.
All of this is being built and will depend on 5G connections and a virtual infrastructure known as the Internet of Things, which is already being used in many places in experimental processes.
Before IoT and 5G become widely available, it is necessary to study their reach and the potential to use them to violate user privacy. Authorities must impose limits to their violations of privacy. This is something that we must demand, but we must also be more aware of the data we give them, knowingly and otherwise.
Legislation should exist for one purpose only: to learn about the ways in which these companies collect, use and sell our information and to impose limits to each of those steps of their business.
Let’s devote resources to training, to acquire experience and talent to make an ethical and correct use of information.
Only then the data will stop being a sword of two edges, and instead will become a wonderful tool with which to create recipes to suit the consumer.