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Posts Tagged ‘Searls’

Will Data Collection on User Behavior Be Forced to End Soon?

January 10th, 2012 01:10 admin View Comments

docsearlsphoto.jpgHarvard Business Review ran three interesting short pieces in this month’s magazine, under the misleadingly timeless title “Tackling Business Problems.” The three essays are actually guest submissions from business radicals, the final of the three being from social media luminary Doc Searls.

Traditional Customer Relationship Management is dead meat, Searls argues. Companies should stop collecting data about their customers. Right now, before the customers revolt! This populist vision of revolt is balanced out a little by Searls’ vision of what’s likely to come next. You can get the picture from the title of his forthcoming book, The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge. It seems crazy, but his view of what the future will bring with regard to customer data is fascinating to consider.

Writing about the massive collection of consumer data, Searls writes:

“Customers naturally see this trend as a gross invasion of their privacy and are starting to resist providing accurate information–or any information at all.

But the main reason for vendors to quit this practice is not that it’s bad manners. It’s that businesses soon will no longer own the data anyway–customers will. And when that happens, vendors will end up reaping greater benefits than they do now.”

As someone fascinated by the possibilities for innovation, I am very hesitent when I read people cheering the revolt of users against the collection of their data. I hope that data collection will be done in a positive way and will lead to big wins for everyone.

It’s not clear that’s going to happen though. Behavioral marketing trailblazer and Tacoda founder Dave Morgan once told me that no one had yet found a way to articulate the value proposition of aggregate data analysis to end consumers because there wasn’t one yet. No one had really built it, people were generally focused on sleazy short term wins at the expense of the consumer. It is the job of startups to build something compelling, he says.

Searls believes this will happen when consumers are in control over their own data. He thinks that’s going to be a net win for the consumer and the companies that sell to them.

“Here’s why,” he writes. “When customers own and control their own data, demand will drive supply more efficiently than supply currently drives demand.”

By that he means that satisfaction of real consumer demand, demand felt my consumers in control in a market that strives to delight them, will be more efficient than demand that gets manufactured by manipulative advertising driven by supply that must be sold.

Customers not only will collect and manage their own data but will be equipped with tools for declaring their intentions directly to the whole marketplace, without having to flit from store to store or website to website looking for what they want.”

That does sound more efficient, but it’s sounding more far-out too.

In this ‘intention economy,’ customers will determine the products they want, the prices they pay, and the terms of engagement they require. Those terms will include both permissions and restrictions regarding the use of their data.”

And I suppose dogs will be friends with cats, lions will kick it with lambs, etc. I don’t know.

This is reminiscent of the Lean Startup philosophy, which emphasizes building products that serve demonstrated market needs, in response to working closely with customers.

That works, so many this will too. What will it look like? Understanding that better could make the whole thing feel more real.

Will users opt-in to participating in bucket targetted advertisements on Facebook? Is that an example of what Searls is discussing? Surely if I choose not to offer up an introduction to myself for conversation, vendors will instead continue to shout at me as I walk by them in the market.

There has certainly never been as much data recorded about each of us and our lives as there is today and will be tomorrow – but will that really be able to change the directionality of power projections between consumer and producer? That’s a very, very tall order. I can imagine the dynamic changing, of course. A radically changed dynamic between the individual and the market seems like something the web would be capable of facilitating. It already has in many ways – but can the consumer really ever be in control? I’m not so sure.

Source: Will Data Collection on User Behavior Be Forced to End Soon?

Gillmor Gang 4.23.11 (TCTV)

April 23rd, 2011 04:00 admin View Comments

The Gillmor Gang — Danny Sullivan, Doc Searls, John Taschek, Kevin Marks, and Steve Gillmor — endured technical glitches and a dissection of the disruption formerly known as TV before settling into a debate about privacy. I know, sounds like the usual nonsense, but this show was high quality nonsense. I forget who brought up the famous iPhone/Android hidden recording file crisis, but things quickly got out of hand when one of us suggested that was a feature not a problem.

It turns out that not that many people are aware that when we are on the Internet, everything is recorded. For those who seem surprised by this, all those free apps are actually there to harvest our clicks, searches, and other gestures of our intent. As Doc Searls pointed out, how else does Google make money except by random clicks on Adsense adding up to billions. It’s only when we can’t figure out how to delete our wanderings that people get upset. Me — I count on being surreptitiously tracked so I can go back and figure out where I was last week.

Source: Gillmor Gang 4.23.11 (TCTV)

Gillmor Gang 4.10.11 (TCTV)

April 10th, 2011 04:46 admin View Comments

The Gillmor Gang — Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Kevin Marks, Andrew Keen, and Steve Gillmor — dive deep into the reasons why Google has its work cut out for it in the fight for social credibility. @scobleizer thinks it’s because the engineers of the search startup don’t understand the value of wasting time. Doc Searls, who arrived late in the show due to a failure to understand how clocks waste time, thinks there’s room for failing at social.

In a week where Netflix paid a million dollars per episode for the full Monty of seven seasons of Mad Men, the new challenger to HBO and Showtime puts a price tag on the value of the model formerly known as the rerun. British philosopher and TCTV interviewer Andrew Keen agrees with In The Plex author Steven Levy that Google’s future lies with mastering Artificial Intelligence. Watch for a secret revealed about new CEO Larry Page. Hint: he doesn’t need a microwave.

Source: Gillmor Gang 4.10.11 (TCTV)

Web 3.0, The Cloud, and Vendor Lock-In

April 8th, 2011 04:00 admin View Comments

Cage Ever since the term “Web 2.0″ started to catch-on, people have been speculating as to what “Web 3.0″ will be. Briefly stated, Web 1.0 was the Static Web and Web 2.0 is the Social Web (for more a more nuanced view of this history, see here). One popular theory is that the Semantic Web comes next. Others have also called for Web 3.0 to involve user-centric identity and data portability – technologies that would depend on many of the same open standards that would enable the Semantic Web. Others suggested personalization would be king.

We’ve covered all these subjects over the years, and it seems that the Personal Web is what’s taking hold. Look at Netflix recommendations, Gmail Priority Inbox, Facebook’s prioritized activity stream and, a little less mainstream, services like GetGlue, Hunch and My6Sense. I would also include the “Quantified Self” movement, which includes applications like Mint.com, Run Keeper and Rescue Time.

But we haven’t really seen the sort of openness many of us wanted from the Personal Web. The Attention Trust came and went. Facebook and Twitter are beating OpenID in the identity wars, and data portability on the consumer Web is still something of a pipedream. Lock-in is still king. But for how long?

The Doctor’s Diagnosis

In a recent rant on his blog, Doc Searls comments on the entrenched client-server model of the Web. For those that have been following Searls for a while the message will be familiar. He uses this image to make his point:

Searl calf-cow illustration

So, while the Net itself has an end-to-end design, in which all the ends are essentially peers, the Web (technically an application on the Net) has a submisive-dominant design in which clients submit to servers. It’s a calf-cow model. As calves, we request pages and other files from servers, usually getting cookie ingredients mixed in, so the cow can remember where we were the last time we suckled, and also give us better services. Especially advertising.

We have no choice but to agree with this system, if we want to be part of it. And, since the cows provide all the context for everything we do with them, we have onerous “agreements” in name only, such as what you see on your iPhone every time Apple makes a change to their store.

Searls also rails against sort of agreements businesses impose on customers:

Here’s the thing: client-server’s calf-cow model requires this kind of thing, because the system is designed so the server-cows are in complete control. You are not free. You are captive, and dependent.

This system has substantiated a business belief that has been around ever since Industry won the industrial revolution: that a captive customer is more valuable than a free one.

Searls’ contribution to an alternative to all of this, is what he calls Vendor Relationship Management, an inversion of Customer Relationship Management in which customers control their data and contact information. Searls writes:

We won’t get rid of calf-cow systems, nor should we. They work, but they have their limits, and those become more apparent with every new calf-cow service we join. But we can work around these things, and supplement them with other systems that give us equal power on equal footings, including the ability to proffer our own terms, express our own preferences and policies, and make independent choices. [...]

The message I’m bringing is not about how these companies can improve the cow systems everybody has done so much to build and improve already. It’s about how buyers and sellers are no longer just cattle, and how we now need to prove something we’ve known all along: that free customers are more valuable than captive ones.

The VRM Project, headed by Searls, defines VRM as “tools by which individuals can take control of their relationships with organizations — especially in commercial marketplaces.” We’ve covered it before and it’s been “the next big thing” for years. Maybe social business and social CRM are the movements that will make VRM a reality, but let’s face it: this may never happen.

We might not ever see a real VRM movement, but we might be seeing the decline of the captive customer and vendor lock-in sooner than later.

Vendor Lock-in and the Cloud

Oracle’s continued success would seem to demonstrate that captive customers really are more valuable. But the question is whether customers will choose to be locked in if they have a choice.

Companies like EnterpriseDB are staking their businesses on the idea that customers, given a choice, will prefer not to be captive. And there is real momentum behind open cloud standards (as long as we can avoid open washing), open source databases and, of course, Linux. Apache Hadoop is particularly disruptive because there is no viable proprietary alternative. SaaS makes it easier than ever to run pilot programs, and as long as customers can easily grab their data through an API, it’s all reasonably portable. For once, it seems like enterprises will have more customer freedom than consumers. Will that trickle down?

Keeping customers captive requires that all vendors play-along. Moving from one walled garden to another isn’t necessarily appealing, but what happens when you give customers the freedom to easily jump from vendor to vendor?

Lead photo by Steve Gibson

Source: Web 3.0, The Cloud, and Vendor Lock-In

Google Considered Too Big To Fail

February 12th, 2010 02:09 admin View Comments

theodp writes “Doc Searls is worried about the way Google makes money. ‘Nearly all of it comes from advertising,’ he frets. ‘That’s what pays for all the infrastructure Google is giving to the rest of us. As our dependency on Google verges on the absolute, this should be a concern.’ Have we reched Peak Advertising? Blogger Dave Winer says amen, asking if Google is already ‘too big to fail.’

Source: Google Considered Too Big To Fail

Gillmor Gang 4.10.11 (TCTV)

November 29th, 2001 11:00 admin View Comments

The Gillmor Gang — Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Kevin Marks, Andrew Keen, and Steve Gillmor — dive deep into the reasons why Google has its work cut out for it in the fight for social credibility. @scobleizer thinks it’s because the engineers of the search startup don’t understand the value of wasting time. Doc Searls, who arrived late in the show due to a failure to understand how clocks waste time, thinks there’s room for failing at social.

In a week where Netflix paid a million dollars per episode for the full Monty of seven seasons of Mad Men, the new challenger to HBO and Showtime puts a price tag on the value of the model formerly known as the rerun. British philosopher and TCTV interviewer Andrew Keen agrees with In The Plex author Steven Levy that Google’s future lies with mastering Artificial Intelligence. Watch for a secret revealed about new CEO Larry Page. Hint: he doesn’t need a microwave.

Source: Gillmor Gang 4.10.11 (TCTV)

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