Karthik recently wrote a post on a subject I’ve been thinking about for a while now – “How should brands use public information you share on social media“, on British Airways’ “Know Me” scheme to personalise their service by providing iPads to their staff and “giving them instant access to customer data, including passengers’ travel history, meal requests and details of any previous complaints. They will also use Google Images to search for pictures to link with passenger profiles, helping staff to identify them next time they fly” (via) It has already been met with disapproval from some, but Karthik believes there is value if there is intelligent use of context to delight a consumer. I’d tend to agree.

Any user of Rapportive would be familiar with the thrills it offers thanks to rich profiles provided as you read/write a mail from/to a contact. :) At an enterprise level, any social media practitioner would also agree that it’s sometimes useful to butt into conversations where an @ has not been used, if you can provide value to a consumer. A Capgemini infographic, based on 16000 interviews in 16 countries, shows that 61% of digital shoppers want the store to remember their personal details, 54% want to receive persoanlised offers, and 41% actually want to be identified through digital devices when they enter a physical store! But when Orbitz starts showing Mac users different and costlier options as compared to Windows users,  I’d really wonder if the business is providing value to consumers in personalised offers!

At paidContent, I read “Big data and the changing economics of privacy“, which discusses how easy it is to get info on people, and debates a ‘Do Not Collect’ law, especially in the context of new technologies like face recognition. Another suggestion I read at AdAge is to let consumers build their own tracking profiles – What consumers might prefer, if one were to actually ask them, is the ability to build, manage and get useful things from their own profile and data. Let consumers remain entirely anonymous and in control.

As this Econsultancy report succinctly points out, personalisation is ultimately a trade off, and businesses need to learn to provide tangible value to consumers who share their data. But before that, they also need to make the consumer comfortable by using even freely available data intelligently in a way that shows their intent, asking consent when applicable, building trust and allowing users to retain control.

I personally believe that if you’re putting any information out on the web, you should take responsibility for it – that includes what you share and who you share it with. From experience, it can give you great lessons in trust, and I think that applies to the relationship between people and businesses too.

until next time, trust worthy