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Personal data economy could be worth £16.5bn a year

1st Jul 2014
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Just as a financial advisor might help get the best out of your tangible and monetary assets, so the day may soon arrive when a digital manager oversees your personal data, helping you to make better decisions and manage your data assets online for you.

That’s the expectations of the midata project, which has been backing the return of personal data from service to consumer since 2011, so that people can be in charge of how their data is used.

Now, with a number of initiatives allowing the consumer to slowly wrestle this control back, new research from Ctrl-Shift suggests the movement is subsequently leading to a flourishing personal data management services (PIMS) sector, which could be worth as much as £16.5bn per year to the UK economy.

In its ‘PIMS: An analysis of an emerging market – Understanding the impacts on UK businesses and the economy’ study, the market analysis and consultancy firm states that trends in personal data management services are leading to a potential boom for services, with the gross value added to the UK economy predicted to rise to £16.5bn, or 1.2% overall. This compares with the pharmaceuticals industry at £13.4bn (0.97%) and automotive sector at £9.7bn (0.7%).

Ctrl-Shift’s predictions are based on what a ‘mature’ market would look like, derived from current sums that existing personal ‘data stores’ and related services are already charging organisations for access to consumer data, alongside trends it envisages occurring within the sector and the value they are likely to glean.   

It sees three types of PIMS emerging in the market:

  • Personal data management services – services which help individuals to gather, store, analyse, manage and use and share information, including personal information, in ways that the individual can control and benefit from.
  • Decision support services – services that gather and use the information individuals need to understand their own behaviours and needs better and to make better decisions and choices.
  • Life management services – services that help individuals to ‘join the dots’ and plan, integrate and coordinate many different inputs to manage aspects and episodes of their lives better, such as ‘manage my money’, ‘manage my health’, ‘move home’, etc.

The UK Government is a good example of a high-profile organisation dipping its toes into the PIMS waters, through its Identity Assurance Programme, which gives individuals a digital identity they can use many times over across all government-based services from the DVLA to the Home Office, as opposed to producing new data for things such as online form-filling every time they use a Government service.

“These two markets – for PIMS and identity assurance – are closely linked,” says Alan Mitchell, strategy director for Ctrl-Shift. “To assure an identity you need to verify attributes such as name, age, address or whether the individual has a valid passport or driving licence. By establishing common, standard ways to verify such attributes and to share this information in a way that protects individuals’ privacy, we are creating a springboard for a rich variety of new information services for individuals.”

Ctrl-Shift’s research also suggests that organisations working with PIMS or building their own personal information services are far more likely to be trusted by their customers in the near future, and will be able to access richer data leading to deeper insights, differentiate their brands, reduce their costs of data management and customer service, and engaging new customers as a result.

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