Over on DisruptiveViews, we have been saying for a couple of years now that privacy leads to trust and trust is an important asset for operators. Be the ones who give control of data back to customers and that is a very brave and effective differentiator. Telefonica has announced it will be doing just that.
Dubbed the ‘fourth platform’ – the result of a 48 billion euro investment, Telefonica has delivered on a ‘customer first’ strategy. Through a personal digital assistant, this one is called Aura, a customer can decide whether to share relevant data with third-party applications such as Facebook and Google. It can also help with Telefonica’s services, manage your WiFi router and interface with Amazon’s Echo.
Quite what Facebook’s reaction will be to this move – almost certainly the first of several by operators – remains to be seen. Presumably the company will view this move in a rather different light to Telefonica, more ad-blocking than customer friendly.
Yet this move is refreshing on several fronts, not least because it means that the talk about who should control customer data is now more than just that. For a global player to take the concept of trust to market must be a boon for privacy advocates. Even though the commercial model has yet to be finalised, the impetus seems to be customer retention. That, it seems, is enough for now.
Until now, ad blocking has been the weapon of choice for customers (600 million of them) not wanting to be followed round the internet by the company that sold you that holiday you bought yesterday (so, therefore you don’t need another one just yet).
Yet ad blocking is a blunt instrument, and publishers and social media sites simply implement systems and techniques that block the ad blockers.
There is a rise in other techniques, too. One such is Vendor Relationship Management. This is still in its infancy but works on the basis that a customer’s data has value, and that value should reside with the customer. Essentially, you allow a trusted third party to broker your data. If you are looking for something, then the third party send this information to selected suppliers who make you offers.
There has been an opportunity here for operators for some time; in theory. That such a giant as Telefonica should take the next steps and bring it to market is to be welcomed, both as innovative, and customer focused.