What is Your Personal Data Worth and How do You Value it?

What is personal data?

Personal data” is fairly generic term, but the definition is any data by which an individual can be identified from. So this is anything from your name, health records, social security/national insurance numbers, email address (with your surname included) driving license etc.

Personal data is collected all the time, from anything from apps and websites, customers willingly supply information in the hope of receiving value in return. A good example of that; Barneys New York – a chain of high-end US department stores – uses an immensely sophisticated location-based marketing model based using beacons. Users who enable push notifications and location awareness receive a host of products that are in-stock based on items in their digital basket or articles read via the brand’s digital magazine.

In this scenario, the customer received value in the way of a promotion, in return for providing the business with their personal data. The customer was provided with a

personalised promotion based on user behaviour. Several free to use platforms engage in this sort of trade off, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram etc. Their core products, including Instagram, Messenger, Gmail, and Google Maps, don’t cost you a penny, all free at the point of use. The value they extract from it is your personal data, which is used to target you with ads.

Understanding the value of your Personal data

In today’s society, the value of data cannot be overstated, it helps businesses better understand their customers, by tapping into their buying behaviour and being able to customise and tailor offers suited to them to encourage repeat purchase. Many have referred to personal data as the new oil, in terms of the value if holds to businesses. Data is an asset that continues to increase in value the more it is used. One person’s data alone, only has so much value, however combining the data generated by hundreds or even thousands of people is completely different. Adding a further layer onto that with the data created in different situations (locations, different time of day etc), helps to create more insight and therefore value for businesses.

A Forbes article discussing a survey from Deloitte, notes that “49 percent of respondents said analytics helps them make better decisions, 16 percent say that it better enables key strategic initiatives, and 10 percent say it helps them improve relationships with both customers and business partners.”

How To Value Data

Data is not something you can simply attach a price to it, and sell it on, as the value in data does not always lie in its sale. We’ve already mentioned Google and Facebook as global tech companies that monetise your personal data, another example is Amazon. Some see Amazon as retail company, but really, they’re a tech company whose value is obtained by the data they extract from their customers using their clever algorithms. Customers using the platform search for the product they want or need; Amazon then uses this to match them with consumers who provide this. They also aggregate the data to provide insights into market trends and shopping patterns. Amazon constantly and regularly gathers individual data on each and every one of its customers while their customers are engaging with the website. Not only does it collect data on purchase behaviour, but it also collects data on the items looked at, shipping address and whether a customer leaves reviews.

So, we can’t think of data value as simply some monetary commodity or price others are willing to pay. We have to think more widely and in doing so we have to create methodologies for data valuation. This distinction, from data value to data valuation, is critically important. Data value is a property. Your personal data has a certain value and customers like you and I need to understand what this is in order to make appropriate investment decisions to support your data. To understand the value of your data you need a methodology for data valuation. You need a way of working out what the actual value of your data is.

Consider this for a second, the value your data can bring you personally, beyond what businesses can do in order to increase their profitability. One such example is Start-up Kippie, who use your personal data in an “InsurancePassport”, which is useable between countries. The insurance passport allows customers to access their panel of insurers for 20-50% less than what customers would typically pay for insurance, so their personal data helps them save money. This enables customers to monetise their personal data for their own gain, and thus benefit themselves.

The Dangers Of Personal Data

Personal data is not without its peril, as the below headlines demonstrate:

“Financial company loses over 600 customers’ details”; “Action taken after care provider lost unencrypted memory stick”; “Gambling worker guilty of selling 65,000 bingo players’ details”; “Advocate’s legal files lost after unencrypted laptop theft”; “Council lost memory stick containing 18,000 residents’ details”

These headlines from a selection of press releases made by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Public and private organisations are provided with vast quantities of personal data by individuals trusting that the information will remain safe and secure. This can’t always be the case, for while there remains value in something like data, there will be those who try to obtain it illegally or misuse it. Even the largest organisations such as Equifax, Yahoo, Uber, Morgan Stanley have been susceptible to data breaches in recent history, so while there is value in using your personal data, it is wise to be cautious of attempts by fraudsters to attempt to obtain this from you.

One method they use is phishing attacks; Phishing is a type of social engineering attack often used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers. It occurs when an attacker, masquerading as a trusted entity, dupes a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message. Recent examples during the Global pandemic has seen fraudsters in the UK pretending to be from Covid track and trace team, and sending a message asking the user to click a link for their results or next steps to take. The clicking of the link can lead to the installation of malware, the freezing of the system as part of a ransomware attack or the revealing of sensitive information, so beware.

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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