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Latest insights and trends in Personal Analytics, Operational Intelligence, and Workplace Productivity.

Aug 10
The Real Price of Personal Data (Part 2)

So, our highly praised personal data, this “new currency of digital business”, turns out to actually be very cheap. At its very best, Google can make around 40 Euros per year with data from one person, and others much less than that. As long as they have my data for free, that still may mean making money. But if they would have to pay for my data, how much would be too much? Perhaps less than 10 Euros in the most optimistic case.

This would be in line with the very modest success of companies (more than one such exist) whose business model is selling your data to advertisers. One of them originally intended to pay up to 8 US dollars per month, finally ended up paying a little more than one dollar, and did not seem to get more than fifteen hundred users last time this company was mentioned in the press.

To put it straight, if I completely ignore all the privacy concerns and try to sell those invaluable personal data of mine to those hungry data capitalists, my best chance is making ten Euros a year or even less. And the data capitalists may not be even making profit with that, because their revenue is not much more.

This does not mean, however, that my data are worthless. If I use them myself, I can make much more money.

One simple calculation is based on saving time. As an example, we have just seen with one of our OmniContext customers that people who monitor their own email habits end up sending 10 to 15 percent less mails after three months of practicing. Similar numbers are observed with browsing the Internet. McKinsey once measured that email takes 28 % of our working time and searching for information another 19 %. Saving even the very limited one-tenth of this time means 5 % of working time being used for more important activities. If I make minimal wage of 8.50 EUR in Germany and work the average German 1.400 hours, that means 595 Euros a year. Quite a difference from the ten dollars for advertising, correct?

All right, I see the objection that those Euros go not to me but to my employer (which is actually not exactly so because I produce more and can go ask for more pay because of this). Take another example then. Suppose your work is selling something, and you have a pending deal for, let us say, 50 k Euros (take any other number if appropriate as it will still be well above those ten dollars a year). By running your own personal analytics you see that you did not invest much of your time in your interaction with that customer. You quickly rectify the pattern, improve the relationship, and finally get the business. Would it be fair to say you made 50 k Euros thanks to using your own personal data? Certainly yes.

Many more such calculations can be easily constructed, with always the same result. If you analyze what you do and how you do it for the purpose of your own work, the monetary outcome is much higher than all and any profit made by those companies that can access your data. And this outcome is for you, not for them, so I ​​​​​think we should just go and do it.​

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