Community first, commerce second

MSTLN steering committee member, Thomas Power, pontificates on the importance of data and digital connections.

Thomas Power, steering committee member, MSTLN
Thomas Power, steering committee member, MSTLN.

Every morning at 5am I spend around two hours on twitter, consuming somewhere in the region of 3,000 – 5,000 tweets, links, articles and stories relating to areas such as wearables; social; cloud; 3D printing; big data analytics; cybersecurity; robotics; artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.

The purpose of this task is to contextualise my mind for the day ahead, a day that could involve teaching social strategies to business executives, sitting in on board meetings, speaking at conferences, and anything in-between.

All of these events require maximum context in real time, something that is being increasingly expected by audiences. We live in ‘the age of context’ where context is most definitely king.

We are coming close to consuming 10 times more content than at the start of this century, with the average smartphone user now having almost 120 apps.

As a result of this, each of us has had to become superb filters, identifying the patterns, shapes and trends in the colossal amount of data that passes our eyes every day.

Community First, Commerce Second
Brands don’t think about serving data to their shareholders, employees or suppliers, let alone customers.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) creating even more data – Google estimates some 45 zetabytes of data by 2020 from 35 billion connected devices, it’s actually beyond our (current) mental capacity, resulting in people quickly falling ever further behind.

So let’s consider those 35 billion connected devices, each one of which has at least one sensor – some may even have a thousand.

Those sensors would create a trillion pieces of data every second, telling us everything about our own lives; cities; companies; governments; societies, and planet.

Acquiring data won’t be difficult; the real challenge lies in understanding what to do with it.

Compounding the issue is the fact that we haven’t adequately identified who owns the data – is it yours; mine; the Government’s; the product manufacturer’s, the sensor maker’s?

To answer that question, we have to come together, debate the issue and ensure that everyone has access to the proper guidance and counsel.

Engaging with 110 brands at home (yes, I counted them), and likely another 100 when on the move, I want access to the data that concerns me – what data have companies been collecting about me?

I really don’t mind my data being consumed, aggregated or even sold; I just want to know what information, to who, and why. I want data to benefit me.

MSTLN LinkThe brands can know everything about me, but equally, I want to know them too – for better or worse.

Too often, brands don’t think about serving data to their shareholders, employees or suppliers, let alone customers.

They’ve got to learn to listen and serve, not dominate and badger. It’s time brands became connectors too, because connecting with someone is worth more than simply selling to then.