Applications; A new twist on data portability

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Data portability is a concept that’s been around for a longtime. The initial concept was focused on single sign-on, which meant you could go from site to site (wherever you had a membership) without having to log in. Of course businesses wanted this because they could get a better sense of who you were as a customer BUT companies such as the the artist formerly known as Microsoft wanted to own all of the sites you traversed. This solution (as to what the the consumer wanted) was soon introduced by browsers, storing your passwords.

Enter social networks. Microsoft realized they can’t own or at the very least partner with those that have the majority of traffic; which is currently Facebook. (I’ll get into the numbers at the end of this post. Halloween is soon, so I thought it’d be fun to get SCARY!) Since they can’t own it, they say they’ll support it but have done almost nothing. Facebook recently took a step and now allows you to export all of your data from Facebook.

Let me stop and explain what data portability means for users. It means when you create an account online, you own it and can take it wherever else you go. So if you’re 17 and have a Facebook account, you could take your profile (something I refer to as your shadow) and “plug it in” when creating your shiny new LinkedIn account. Obviously, the information between networks is not identical (Not sure your business connections care about your relationship status.) and only relevant information is shared. They (FB and LinkedIn), by default, DO NOT know your social security number. Your home address. AND you have complete control over your profile. That is the promise of data portability.

So now we have the possibility of the largest piece on real estate online, embracing data portability. Which is good news. The interesting part of data portability right now, lies in the applications. There is a new massive opportunity, that applications provide. There are several reason for this.

  1. Those older (and hopefully wiser) Internet users don’t sign up for as many new online services as our younger counter parts. This is not true of applications. We’re downloading new applications all the time and quickly trying to figure out how they fit into our lives.
  2. Most smart applications allow you to utilize existing accounts (Twitter & FB) to create an account. But to be clear, I’m talking about that account, an aggregate of all your current accounts, being owned by you.
  3. Location based information can now be dumped into your shadow. (Mobile browsers also allow you to do this but the site needs to have this function turned on.)
  4. iPad applications offer a deeper level of engagement and this information could also be housed in your shadow. Things like right handed or left handed. Types of content preferred (text, video, photos).

As companies embrace data portability, they’ll need to funnel their application information into their user’s profile to enable them to create situational marketing and in general, an excellent online experience. And now for those scary Facebook stats!

  • There are 2 billion people online and Facebook has 500 million users. That’s right. 1/4 of all those online, have a Facebook account. (I double checked the math!)
  • 33% of all online traffic in the US is on Facebook.
  • 10% of ALL online traffic is on Facebook.

I’m going to post about Facebook on Halloween for those of you that aren’t terrified on some level by these numbers. BOO!

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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