Watch out for a business harnessing your personal data bubble

You can’t do anything without producing data these days. Even the morning jog is no longer a private affair but one that gives you and potentially businesses information about you and your behaviour.

I recently met Paul Roehrig from Cognizant and he told me about what he calls Code Halos. These are the virtual identities that follow people and things around made up of all the data the produce. I must admit writing an article about what was discussed was a bit challenging so rather than me do it I thought it would be better if Paul and his colleagues Malcolm Frank and Ben Pring did it for me.

All three are from Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work. They are the authors of Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business.

Here is their take on what Cloud Halos mean to businesses

Manage Code Halos to win in the digital economy

By Paul Roehrig with Malcolm Frank and Ben Pring

“Think for a moment about your home technology – laptops, tablets, mobile devices, gaming consoles, health sensors, and so on. Now consider all the things you do with your gadgetry: connect with friends, play games, manage your money, read books, work, watch films, listen to music, monitor your fitness, get directions, and buy any number of products. Over time, every click, swipe, “like”, buy, comment, deposit, jog, and search produces information that creates a unique pattern of accumulated data and information that becomes your virtual identity. This virtual identity is your personal Code Halo.

If you use any device more complicated than a toaster, chances are this feels familiar and makes sense, but what is new is that this same idea is now playing out in many industry sectors. People, organisations, and things – basically any noun – can now have a Code Halo, and this phenomenon is beginning to change how organisations – and not just the digital native companies – create economic value. Today’s companies whose growth or success is quite unlike that of others are dominating by extracting business value from the information that surrounds people, organisations, processes, and products. If this sounds like theory, consider that these firms, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix, generated some $1 trillion in combined market capitalisation in just the last 10 years. These digital leaders use technology to deliver curated individualised experiences based on our unique needs, wants, and history captured from the data we all share.

At first this can sound like the Big Data story or the rise of the Internet with a new label, but that is not correct. Data, algorithms, analysis, and connectivity are essential, but this shift is not confined to the Silicon Valley digerati.

Traditional companies are now harnessing the power of Code Halos. GE is creating Brilliant Machines. Disney is launching the Magic Band at its theme parks. Allstate and others use mobile telematics devices and analytics to transform auto insurance. Philips is creating value from the information and data around their products. The list goes on, and it is growing every day

Dealing with the market shift – how do companies ensure they come out on top?

Companies that have succeeded or failed have followed the same pattern – what we call The Crossroads Model. While one route can lead to new levels of market prosperity, the other can take them toward extinction (one route can lead to new levels of market prosperity, the other can lead down a path toward extinction).

So, what are some steps to take to stay on the right track

·         Recognise the value of signal. Cognizant recently surveyed business decision makers in 300 firms globally, and they told us they achieved a total economic benefit of roughly $766 billion over the past year based on their use of business analytics. Competing on meaning and insight now stands as a potentially large value-creation lever for most organisations.

·         Make design central to your value proposition. Design is not just about making beautiful applications and Web sites. That’s still vital, but beauty needs to be embedded into the end-to-end process and user experience. This is business, not just aesthetics. The iPod beating the Zune, Progressive’s web presence, and Disney’s guest experience are all examples of putting design at the centre of a business strategy.

·         Compete on trust. Organisations that ultimately win will be those that generate, maintain, and compete on trust, allowing participants to opt in or out from sharing code. Some insurance companies already demonstrate a clear connection between value and information – the Give-to-Get ratio by offering a better insurance deal based on actual driving data.

·         Make IT Your Halo Heroes. Managing technology and information will be essential to the brand promise. The SMAC Stack – social, mobility, business analytics, and cloud-enabled solutions – is changing how people, organisations, and devices interact. Business leaders who want to harness the power of code need to (finally) break down the barriers between IT and the business.

We are in the early days of the next generation of the future of work. To win at the Crossroads, leaders must begin to re-code the business, identify innovations that will matter in the future, and pilot new solutions that link the physical and the virtual for new kinds of business value.”