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Data as the new currency!

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here are 40,000 searches made on Google every second, 456,000 tweets created every minute, 16 million text messages sent and received every minute, and 1.5 billion people that use Facebook every day. At present, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day. The fact that 90% of this data was generated just in the past two years hints at its exponentially increasing and pullulating nature.

Roger Mougalas of O'Reilly Media was the first to use the term "Big Data" in its modern context in 2005. Big Data, which gradually gave birth to concepts such as Data Analytics, Data Warehousing, Data Management, Data Visualisation, Data Collection, and Data Mining, among myriads of others, is a revolutionary concept driving the market today. Data today is helping businesses achieve success in more ways than one. They rely on predictive data analysis for even the most minor changes to their strategies and infrastructure.

Although it might have many uses, the one area where it's exploited the most is customer behaviour pattern or user habit recognition. With major international tech giants hankering after our data to track down our habits, data today is considered the new currency. But in this data-as-currency economy, the ones generating this data i.e. the consumers, get nothing in return, or in most cases, aren't even aware of their data being sold to help sell products and services. Not to forget the concerns regarding their safety and privacy.

Where is data created?

We live in the age of information technology. With the rise of cryptocurrency and virtual currency trading, data can be looked at as a currency both figuratively and literally. With over 10 billion mobile devices in use, data is being created every nanosecond. In today's age of big data, data is created in real-time. Connected with the internet, devices can produce and pass on their data the second that it's created. Both companies and users generate data with their activities, and businesses use both kinds of data to their benefit.

Data is often called the oil of our times, but just like raw oil, unprocessed data is also, more or less, useless. For the data to become applicable and actionable, it has to go through an array of processes. The unprocessed and unstructured data possesses excellent potential to provide deep, meaningful and profitable insights. Let alone businesses, even political campaigns have learned how to translate seemingly random data into something beneficial. Data helps them get to know their audience and customise their marketing approach accordingly.

As said before, data alone is not of much use. To become useful, there are various processes like Data Visualisation, Data Processing, Data Cleansing, Data Warehousing, and Data Analysing, among others, that datasets or databases have to go through first. Data analytics is when data experts extract, process, analyse, and interpret data generated by various activities to produce insights that can be used to benefit an organisation. For business use, these insights are utilised to support multiple business-related, data-driven decisions. Data scientists turn raw data into more usable and readable information by converting it into graphs or tables. Data analytics gauge what this information can possibly mean, and eventually, business analytics translate the insights provided by the information into substance to support business decisions.

Artificial intelligence or AI systems play a significant role in data analytics because humans do not have the capacity to analyse the gigantic amounts of data that needs to be studied in a business setting. Data experts build AI programs based on machine learning algorithms that can effortlessly trawl through prodigious quantities of data and analyse photos and videos. The more data that an AI system is fed, the smarter it becomes.

Where does the data go?

It's a universally agreed fact that the internet has made life easier for us. It's made the whole world accessible to us with just a few strokes of a finger. With social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube, you're never alone. There's always someone online you can talk to or connect with. But there are two sides to every coin. Every click you make is being registered on a database. From whatever ad you stop to look at and for how long you look at it, everything gets translated to numbers that businesses use to sell you ideas, products, or services.

The commercial utilisation of customer data has created a social dilemma. There are all sorts of concerns surrounding the use of data for financial profit, the biggest one being privacy. The platforms you use have no qualms about selling your data to big corporations or third parties for money. This data is used to influence your purchases and tailor your online experience to show you only the things that you "seem" to be interested in. You only have to search for "flat earth theories" once, and before you know it, your YouTube recommendations will be flooded with all sorts of crazy videos on the topic. Instagram and Facebook are also particularly notorious for inundating your timelines with products or services that you’ve made just one Google search for.

Who benefits from our data?

The business sector relies on the basic principle of supply and demand. They must know what is being demanded, otherwise how would they supply it? In today's digitalised world, where everything happens online, it's becoming increasingly more accessible for businesses to figure out the needs and wants of their customers and design their production or marketing plans accordingly. They decide what to stock based on what they learn from the personal data of their consumers. This modern abstract commodity known as data is what business models are now based on.

The biggest glitch in the whole "Data as Currency" concept is perhaps the question: Who is it a currency for? The answer to the question is simple. For the majority, it's the business that "buy" the data and benefit from it by utilising it to accomplish their missions and reach their revenue goals. Until recently, customers had little control over how their data was used, it's only now that laws and policies are being created to do something about this blatant invasion of privacy.

Is there a way for consumers to have control over their data value exchange?

Times are changing, as they always do, and customers are becoming more and more tech savvy. Well, what with their computers knowing them better than their friends do, people were destined to figure out what was going on behind the scenes. People today have become more aware of their lack of control over how their personal data is traded. Customers today want to know what's in it for them. It's natural too, if other people they don't even know are benefiting from their data, why can't they benefit from it?

The growing awareness regarding the subject today has made the process of collecting data no run-of-the-mill task. Customers today have the right to know what information a brand or business is retrieving from them. They have the option to revoke the permission that allows them to collect their data. Restrictions on data collection might have made the commercial use of data a little more complicated, but the practice is still very much in use. Even though we're far from getting money in exchange for our data, today, there are several ways available through which customers have begun to gain some value for the data that they share.

First, there's a personalised and improved customer experience. Customers now have the option to "choose" to share their data in return for the promise of a more personal browsing experience. It is something that a lot of customers seem satisfied with too. A recent study consisting of 7,000 participants found that consumers want companies to be aware of their needs and send them marketing messages accordingly. After all, a teenager recovering from a recent breakup wouldn't really want to jam to "fly me to the moon" on Spotify, or a person after a trip to a cardiologist wouldn't be too happy to see ads for sugary foods.

There are other less popular ways available too, such as data licensing (for rewards) and email newsletters that make customers feel exclusive and unique. Some platforms also allow watching ads to unlock access to a paid feature of a service. Since data is a very useful resource for businesses, they have little choice left but to offer customers something in return for their data.

Conclusion

Considering the business importance of data, data exchange value is an incredibly pertinent concept for enterprises today. Whereas on the one hand, businesses require data to drive growth, customers demand something in return for the data that they provide and striking a perfect balance between the needs of the company and the customers’ can be a troublesome task.

Here at Gemraj Technologies Ltd, we have IT professionals with years of extensive industry experience and thorough domain knowledge who can help you find solutions to any IT-related business problems that you encounter. They can also help simplify the concept of "Data Value Exchange" and provide you with solutions that keep both you and your customers happy and satisfied.

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