The digital age has fundamentally changed how brands and organisations interact with consumers. This shift has been a crucial part of the Third Industrial Revolution and helped spark the era of consumers sharing their data with different organisations.
But now organisations are heralding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and data is the raw material that will power it. But the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires further development of consumers’ willingness to share data. That data is needed to fuel the hyper-personalised services that technology can deliver.
As our research with Future Foundation indicates, a data generation has emerged -- a generation which understands the power of its own consumer capital.
They see their personal information as bargaining chips that can be used to obtain free products, direct financial rewards or save them time. They're willing to share data if they receive a valuable, relevant and timely service in return.
And the only way to drive the personalised services they demand is to understand more about each consumer – i.e. apply analytics to their personal data. Once the service meets their needs, consumers are then prepared to share their data again, and so the cycle continues.
To prosper in the Fourth Industrial Revolution organizations need to demonstrate the benefits and reasons behind data gathering. Our research shows that only 12 per cent of consumers were happy to share their data without a second thought.
But when asked whether they were comfortable with sharing their data with specific industries (i.e. by industry sector), the proportion willing to share noticeably jumped. Depending on the sector, the proportion was anything from 28 to 67 per cent.
In healthcare, they trust
Healthcare is an industry that's been described as ‘data rich but insight poor.’ Yet, it’s on the cusp of a data revolution. Two-thirds of the data generation are comfortable sharing their personal information with the healthcare sector, more than any other sector. Also, they're more willing to share vital health statistics than any other form of data.
This generation understands that by making better use of the data available – be it patient data, performance data, clinical data or administrative data – the healthcare industry will be able to be better understand patient conditions. And as a result, they'll be able to diagnose diseases more quickly, support better interventions, deliver new models of care and improve quality of life.
Scepticism pervades the public sector
The austerity programme of the Conservative Government, which started in 2010 and continued up to 2015, caused millions of citizens to reconsider the role of the state in their lives. A common contention is that the state can no longer afford to guarantee its citizens a generous standard of living in retirement or times of hardship and provide free or accessible services. This change in the social contract between government and citizens has strengthened a narrative of individual responsibility.
Against this lack of belief in government support, the majority of the data generation (62 per cent) are sceptical of sharing data with the public sector. More than a third (37 per cent) state privacy as the top concern for sharing data with the public sector.
Given this widespread ambivalence, the public sector needs to establish a new connection with the data generation. They need to educate the public on the need for citizen data as a means to optimising and increasing government efficiencies.
For instance, 46 per cent of the data generation would be comfortable with government departments sharing basic personal information, such as name, date of birth, address and contact details, if it meant they received a faster and better integrated service, or only had to submit their details once.
Social media: evolve or dissolve
Up until recently, social media was considered a staple of every teenage diet, but millennials have started turning their backs on Facebook and Instagram.
According to Time magazine, more than 11 million millennials have fled Facebook since 2011. The social media sector is the least trusted when it comes to data sharing, with 68 per cent of the data generation uncomfortable sharing data with social media companies due to privacy concerns
With an inherent lack of trust and an appetite for a new type of relationship, social networks have no option but to evolve. Social media companies know the data generation is fickle. And they know they need to change and work harder. As the data generation continues to restrict access to their personal data, social media companies need to assess the value they provide to this group to keep them engaged -- or end up alongside Myspace, Bebo and Friendster.
The way forward
As our report on Analytics for the Future shows, no firm can survive for long by sticking to the same old formula. With the average lifespan of an S&P 500 listed company now averaging just 14 years (back in 1958 it was 61 years), organisations that survive in this new data paradigm will be those that leverage analytics to gain a holistic understanding of the data generation. Thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will mean winning the hearts of consumers today, and predicting their needs now and into the future.