The future of data for the individual - an interview with J Cromack of MyLife Digital

We speak to J Cromack about what’s happening right now with consumer data, and what changes we could expect to see.

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Becky Rock-Evans

17th September 2018

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What does the future of data look like, for the individual? 

MyLife Digital was founded in 2014 to help organisations connect the citizens they serve with the personal data they hold on them. Their vision, to rebalance the control of personal data between citizens and corporations, came at a key moment. By 2015 resentment was building and has continued to grow given recent cases such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. We spoke to founder, J Cromack, about what’s in store for Big Data and our own private information. Is it all bad news?

In short, no. MyLife Digital is here to help. Their platform, Consentric, enables organisations to display the personal data they hold to the individual, and empower the individual to control the purposes that data can be used for. Given the advent of GDPR, organisations now need to be more transparent than ever before. MyLife Digital’s handy platform is helping everyone to be more honest about the data they hold and how they use it.

J Cromack is one of the founders of the business, who are sponsors of this year’s Bath Digital Festival and hosting events in the ‘Think:Tech’ category. J’s role as CTO, enables him to create a vision for the product and keep the business relevant for their customers. He’s a change-maker, and wants to keep ‘moving with the MyData movement’ to ensure individuals have control of their own data. We asked him what’s happening right now with consumer data, and what changes we could expect to see.


Consumers need more control

People are unaware of the extent large corporations collect, share and use data. There is data being collected about us every time we log on to an app or even visit a website. This data harvesting enables some companies to sell data, and then target advertising based on customers wants and needs. Popular awareness of this is growing, especially given big data misuse cases. But there is still an important shift that needs to happen. We need to be more aware of how is used.

You might understand the value of money, and therefore make decisions about where to spend it. Data is exactly the same. It has value, and consumers should control when and where they use it. Recent research also backs up the shift in consumer mindsets, away from apathy towards reluctance. J previously worked in Big Data himself, commented:

"Organisations should play a massive role in helping individuals have more control of their data. Most the time data is used for social good, as well as delivering a better experience, but if consumers lose trust in an organisation many benefits can’t be realised leading to lost revenue, less medical research, and limited service innovation driven by data. A fundamental pillar toward trust is empowerment and this will ensure a data fuelled and digital society can thrive".

"Tests in 2012 on websites actually proved that those with all optional fields and empowered consumers to exercise their right to be forgotten at anytime, collected 12-18% more data. So, being open doesn’t put people off. It builds trust. This trust between the organisation and the individual creates better services and UX."


A move towards transparency

GDPR is forcing organisations to be clear about what data they collect, and the purpose they use it for. For MyLife Digital, transparency is another fundamental pillar toward building trust with consumers. J Cromack had this to say:

"Often organisations are collecting loads of data for different purposes and burying these purposes in privacy policies which just isn’t being transparent enough. Organisations need to think about how they surface this data collection and purposes information at different stages of the consumer journey and build that trust over time. You can’t just ask for it all on day one of a new relationship, you need to demonstrate to the consumer that the data being captured is delivering them value, they understand that through total transparency and they feel empowered at any stage to change their current data permissions."


What organisations can do

If you’re a business, then failure to comply with new data legislation when using customer data can result in breakdown of trust with the consumer as well as lead to serious penalties. You don’t need to look much more further than Facebook to see the damage done to brands that misuse data. It’s more important than ever to ask the right questions:

  • How have you collected personal data?
  • Is the individual informed about how you will use their data?
  • Have you got the right permissions in place to use that data?
  • Have you empowered the consumer to manage their new rights to have control of their personal data?

If you work for a company collects personal data and wants to build trust, and work in transparent and compliant ways, then get in touch with MyLife Digital. Their unique approach and innovative platform can help your business develop a better, more healthy data relationship with your consumers. Find out more on their blog, or get in touch with J here:

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