The last few years have been the golden age of information. It’s been popular to talk about data as the new oil – a fuel that will revolutionize business as well as society once we learn to capitalize upon it. In the business world, data growth is considered to be a good thing, in principle at least. As the fundamental material of the big data revolution, the more the customers’ behavior data is collected and mined, the better companies can plan and direct their marketing efforts.

However, many consumers have had concerns about how their data is used – and rightly so. And if the data is the new oil, shouldn’t people be compensated for giving their data? After all, you can’t fill up your car for free at petrol stations so why should data be any different? Fortunately, that question has already been answered.

Consumer behavior has already changed as more and more people begin to understand that their information has value and that they should be getting something in return for giving it away. No company can think that the information collected would be theirs exclusively to own and promote their own activities. Visible sign of this change come from the direction of the EU in General Data Protection Regulation GDPR, which will completely revolutionize the way companies handle personal data in the future.

Sanctions imposed by the Regulation for poor protection of data are so great that firms should no longer collect all possible data with the hope that it would eventually become useful. In the advent of GDPR in 2018, many companies may soon find themselves in a situation in which the collection of data becomes an actual business risk.

Data should not be collected for the sake of it

Already now in anticipation of the forthcoming regulation, companies must begin to show much more care and consideration in the gathering of data from their customers. In real terms, it makes no sense to collect too much data simply because it is possible. Under the new rules, the future winners in the new data market will not make use of people’s private data without full transparency and the possibility for compensation

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about MyData, a growing movement which allows private people to control information about themselves and its use. A Eurobarometer survey showed that a shockingly low 20% of people know in every instance when releasing information, how and where it will be used. Therein lies a business opportunity; those companies that are able to gain their customers’ trust in the processing of their data will prevail.

One way to handle the situation is that enterprises and service providers are able to conclusively verify how they use the data collected from their customers and who else may have access to the information. As the new oil, data will fuel data marketplaces which benefit both consumers and corporations. Transparency, trust and customer empowerment are nevertheless key for these marketplaces to thrive. In that light, I look forward to a profitable future for all.