Power to the people.io

Toni Sekinah

When it comes to corporations, individuals and data, it seems that their needs and wants are diametrically opposed. According to innovation consultant and digital marketer Nick Oliver, companies want people’s data while people want control of their data.

However, it is even more complex than that, as Oliver explains. Companies want the knowledge and power that comes as a result of having data and people don’t want to experience too much hassle in taking control of their data.

Oliver’s platform, people.io, which has been operation for 12 months, was one of the personal information management services (PIMS) in attendance at the Personal Information Economy conference organised by Ctrl-Shift on 29th September 2016. It is positioning itself to satisfy both sides. The platform allows users to share information with brands while retaining control of their data. They can delete their data at any time, decide how it is used and decide what data they want to license.

On the other side is C8, the brand platform and parent company of people.io, through which brands license that data. “We think that if we build C8 out in the right way, we can create value from the data without companies needing to own it or try and control it,” says Oliver.

He details the way in which people.io protects the data of its users from being misused. “As a user, you have two layers of abstraction from a brand. So, when you put your data into our platform, it is not going to be at risk of advertisers seeing it or abusing,” he says. “I believe that you don’t actually need to see the data to create value from it.”

Through people.io, Oliver is also trying to solve the problem of people not caring enough about their data. He foresees great benefits for users if that situation is turned around. “In the future, the reason they should care is because they will have more control, which results in better privacy, better products and a better experience,” says Oliver.

He and his team have found a rather simple solution to get younger Millennials to be more concerned about their data:  “With 18 to 25-year-olds, you just have to say ‘we will pay you to care’.” So if they download the people.io app, they get paid. If they answer questions, they get paid. If they connect data sources, they get paid. If they watch an advert, they get paid.

And, although the currency is not cold hard cash, the rewards are attractive. Users get paid with credits which they can exchange for subscriptions or gift cards from brands such as Amazon, iTunes and Ticketmaster. “It is important to get people to understand the value potential of having that control. If a person understands it is actually quite valuable for them to do this, monetarily or experientially, then that becomes a long-term solution,” Oliver says.

He believes that trust is driven by the context in which it is being requested. “I think trust is relative to the transparency and comprehension the person has of what you’re asking them to do,” he says. As such, he and his team are looking at “linguistic-style matching” as a way to communicate with people in a more familiar way.

His reasoning is that, if people are familiar with the language used when their information is being requested, they will have a greater comprehension of it in less time. Therefore, in less time, they will have greater understanding, better trust and more transparency. However, he adds a caveat: “Transparency has to be about awareness. Not just saying everything to everyone.”

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Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ
Toni is the senior features editor responsible for the origination of DataIQ's interviews, articles and blogs.