What if we owned our own data?
Five issues Web3.0 companies will need to address as they seek to revolutionise data ownership
Data is not the new oil - it’s much more valuable
Even before that, the ‘data is the new oil’ metaphor was overplayed. Unlike oil, data is infinite, doesn’t get consumed but is created, and has a whole raft of privacy and identity issues. It gets more valuable when combined with other data and context. However, it is fair to say that data is the fuel that powers capitalism’s flywheel.
Data is fuel for the flywheel
Data-powered tech companies have revolutionised our lives and become almost unimaginably large; Amazon has 1.6m employees and Apple’s ‘GDP’ at $2 trillion would make it the eighth largest country in the world, its coffers filled with $200 billion in cash.
Health coaching company Noom is priming for an IPO based on gathering user data about health and wellness habits. It’s unlikely that the returns from the IPO will flow to the users whose data enabled its business model.
McKinsey suggests the data-powered IoT market is worth around $5-$12 trillion value, and health data around 10-14% of that. (Incidentally, McKinsey also suggests that better utilisation of US healthcare data could save around $500-$750 billion annually - enough to end world hunger twice over).
So far these models are based on centralised corporations or proprietary managed ecosystems. What other models could unlock value from data but provide ownership by, and benefits to, individuals themselves? Moreover, in health data, it’s their data to begin with.
A prize worth fighting for - unlocking user data
Giving up control and value of the data powering the business models, Teslas and private schools of tech executives around the world is never going to be an easy lift. Rosanne Warmerdam, the co-founder and CEO of HealthBlocks, a Dutch Web3 health tech startup and The Pando Network (an ecosystem catalyst for population health) identifies three challenges: Centralised ownership, silos and lack of interoperability. Rosanne will be one of eight speakers at tomorrow’s Innovation Forum hosted by The Collective (EconomyIs.Community’s sister organisation) and King’s College ARK.
The session will explore a number of topics that will need to be addressed before we can realise the vision of user ownership:
User need. Do users want decentralised data? Many are happy with Apple etc. so why would they want to own their own data rather than have it managed by experts. Do we need to re-introduce intermediaries / stewards?
Usability. Today’s experience of most Web3 applications and crypto in general is very poor - partly due to the nascent state of the industry and partly because by definition, there is no centralised gatekeeper who can control and optimise the user experience.
Privacy. It seems most anonymised data can be de-anonymised, and genetic data is by its nature unique to the individual. How do we ensure privacy and security, in particular of sensitive health data?
Value. Despite the push for independence and user control, the assumption is that user data will be valued and purchased by corporations. Do they want it? In what form will it need to be to be useful to them?
Interoperability. The promise of Web3.0 is data ownership and that requires interoperability among different stakeholders. How realistic is that, and where are we on that journey?
It will also surface other issues that aren’t included here, and we’ll be compiling a summary of insights that will be shared first with paying subscribers to EconomyIs.Community.
Building a brains trust around Web3 and data
The speakers and attendees at tomorrow’s event all bring unique perspectives on a fast-moving topic:
Davide Zaccagnini, Co-founder & CEO, Agora
Richard Siow, Director, Ageing Research at King's (ARK)
User ownership of data is a wonderful-sounding concept but how practical is it? Do people want it? And what will be the sustainable business models? These and more topics will be discussed tomorrow - we won’t have all the answers but I suspect we’ll be much wiser after the event.