Big Data: Cui bono?


Who benefits from Big Data?

In his Thinkr series, author, photographer and technologist Rick Smolan asks many important questions about the era of Big Data.

Consider a few from this recent video. Smolan discusses data ownership, one of the topics of his new book, The Human Face of Big Data. For instance, should users be able to (jointly) profit from Google search results - and subsequent clicks? After all, it is the users' data isn't it?

More Questions than Answers

And what about data portability? Should we be able to export our user data from Company A's applications and import it to those of Company B? How easy should companies make it to effectively take business from them - and directly to their competitors?

Like Smolan, I have no answers to these thorny questions. Much hinges upon your personal point of view.

Consider Facebook and Google for a moment. The data capturing and privacy practices of these companies might rub you the wrong way, but do you have a right to complain?

In the case of both Facebook and Google, I happen to believe that I'm a user, not a customer. It's a profound difference. As such, I don't think that I "own" the data that either company collects on me. I benefit from being able to watch free videos on YouTube, send emails on Gmail, connect with my "friends" on Facebook, and the like. Facebook and Google have a right to monetize me. (Investors would go further. They'd say that these companies have a fiduciary obligation.)

Now, if I paid for these companies' services and qualified as a proper customer, I'd probably feel differently. Perhaps you believe otherwise. Again, I can't tell you that you're wrong.

Simon Says

Brass tacks: Issues surround data ownership and portability are only going to increase in importance over the coming years. Get ahead of them before they're out of your control.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top