The choice of a world without databases is not ours

Gareth Stephens – Head of New Proposition Development, GBG

Like many other businesses and industries that have been disrupted by technological advances, there’ll be a time when the data model under which businesses currently operate will cease to exist. One day, there’ll be no databases; no vaults of customer information to mine for insights and targeting.

Data will be dispersed; owned, managed and shared by the consumer under their terms, with companies dipping in and out to ‘borrow’ information. Information they ‘own’ today.

The path to this future is winding, but we’ve taken the first steps. What’s driving us forward is the consumer who’s certainly fed up with reading about information leaks – sometimes simply due to human error, as we saw with the recent London clinic leak where an email detailing the HIV status of patients was accidently sent as a group email, and not blind-copied (bcc).

Sometimes, as in the cases of Ashley Madison and Sony, there are more sophisticated reasons behind leaks, but it goes further to prove that for as long as we have databases we will always be vulnerable.

Consumers are already savvy about deciding what to share, when and with who. Mobile notifications constantly prompt for permission to share locations or details between apps, so we’re already making these choices – on what we might consider a small scale, but it’s significant nonetheless.

So where does that leave us, and you?

We’re continuing to do what we do well, which is help customers obtain, maintain and use legitimate data in the best and safest way possible. But we know the future described above is coming, so we’re not waiting; we’re disrupting ourselves.

We’re working with a number of exciting companies across various industries who really understand, as we do, what the ‘new identity’ will be: verification via device, behaviour and activity, amongst others.

A new system will rely on third parties like us to manage these fluid identities. Just as currency is becoming de-centralised with the evolution of crypto-currencies, the same could evolve for identity data intelligence where the companies with the most data are no longer king. Those that enable customers to share the correct attributes in the correct context, and at the right time will be the new champions of consumer identity.

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