As a Business Analyst, I usually balance on a thin line between a client’s request, a theoretical paradigm, common sense and personal feelings. To clarify stakeholder requests, I like to use the 'Devil’s Advocate' technique. Why not apply the same technique to an interesting topic we all come across daily?
In the current digital transformation era, organizations seem to feel the urge to go 'digital' because traditional business models no longer present the much wanted returns. Pitching up a website without additional tracking and tracing (or cognitive analytics, if you prefer the more fancy terminology) could help an organization renew the interest of their clientele, but customers could also pop in and out of these stores in relative anonymity.
From their perspective, clients ask us to share our knowledge and help them build more meaningful relationships with their customers. Clients ask us to help them monetize the relationship with their customers. They are asking us to gather meaningful data or add meaning to gathered data. Putting the client’s customer at the center of our client’s interest is putting ourselves as potential or existing customers at the center of our client’s interest. Hence, the business Tahzoo is in, puts Tahzoo employees at the heart of a fundamental question in the digital era.
Body of Evidence
In the old times, things reminiscent of you as an individual were most probably never stored nor registered. For the happy few, history was either in the hands of their successors in power or practice determining how people were to be remembered, or left over at the passing of time, plagues and disasters. Nobody cared about the impotent masses.
With an ever advancing digital era in which traditional business models seem to be declining, people’s behavior is increasingly digitized or digitally influenced. We cannot ignore the digital era anymore; resistance is futile. Living in the digital era should make us conscious though.
Examples are numerous. One could be some online store that automatically creates a profile and logs your purchase behavior while you were only interested in getting your missus this special item. Obviously, the item popping up at a man-sized screen in a busy commercial area when passing the physical store may catch your eye, but it is probably not what you’re interested in as a customer. Another example - a jogging app sending GPS data to unknown third parties could eventually result in you having to pay more community tax because you like to go out into the wild. Not to mention children settling their disputes by posting explicit statements or video coverage, ending up on their future employer’s desk when pursuing their careers decades later. Some applications even predict voter’s behavior at elections based on their shopping behavior.
For a fact, digital history will always be there. Any digital trace or reference once created, is basically out of its creator’s control. For a change, it is all about the masses. The digital masses produce a goldmine of data allowing massive personalized profiling and targeting. Usually a combination of invited and unintrusive data collection and a fancy algorithm does the trick, but are we fully aware what data we collect, which rules we apply to make it meaningful information and how we collect it? Do we ask ourselves who actually owns the data collected? Do we question the integrity of the ways it is collected or the rules that are applied to make derived information meaningful and meaningful for whom?
Rhetoric and confronting at the same time: are we Tahzoo employees prepared to eat our own dog food? Are we ready to live with the consequences of the ever advancing and personalized customer experience?
I preach a high level of consciousness in the relationships with my clients and kind of expect the same from their relationship with their customers; that is me. Sometimes one needs to sow the seeds of awareness in order to harvest consciousness later on. However, around me on the supplier side - that is the work field of Tahzoo and their peers, I see a lot of off-plating behavior like ‘you ask, we deliver’ and ‘passing the hot potato’ around in order to keep the client happy. Whereas on the customer side - that is we as our client’s customers - there is a surging interest of getting into our homes, wallets and social lives with a high level of detail.
I would argue that all data collected, these digital traces, in essence consist of private data left in a public domain. In general, I see a lot of businesses collecting and using that data without prior conscious and explicit consent of the individual leaving that data, maybe even dispossessing or disowning that individual in the information creation process. For a start, getting the data ownership right is the basis of mutual trust, which again is the basis of all lasting relationships.
I think that both from a professional point of view and as our client’s customers, we really need to take care. Care to prevent the unwanted, and to build the resilient and future proof relationships our clients should be looking for. As professionals and customers, we help our clients care for their customers. We are directing and acting in our own movie at the same time. Let’s take into account the mentioned pitfalls in our professional DNA and be even greater!