Marketplace Analytics … When Knowing Data About You May Benefit You

While reading ComputerWorld’s Fueled by Analytics article in their December 2nd edition I was struck by the company’s use of data collection and analytics to deliver “… cars that most customers want most of the time.”

The article immediately thereafter points out that Ford’s Smart Inventory Management System (SIMS) has profited the company thus far by improving forcasting for internal processes (parts and assembly).  CEO Alan Mulally’s vision seems to be more expansive as stated by Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Mike Tinskey:

“What we’re proposing is that as we reach critical mass, vehicles could respond to calls from the utility to scale back [consumption]. One scenario is that customers would delay charging their cars when power demand is high and the utility would compensate them by charging them a lower rate,”

In a poorly-anticipated environment the effect of having such knowledge of customers, their habits and desires (even the ones they don’t realize about themselves) can be a debacle of mistrust as Target learned a couple of years ago.

The upside of a vendor knowing his customers, however, is efficient delivery of what we consumers want in a timely fashion.  If the data is handled in ways that respect and protect information about us then the result is that we get more of what we want when we want it for a lower cost which seems like a good benefit.  This is what individual or small businesses did for years without formalized systems.  When done successfully and within mature systems of capabilities the businesses that are most successful should have a competitive advantage over those that don’t, thus ensuring that we can continue shopping where we like to shop.

#Infosec #architecture isn’t about eschewing all risk, it is about understanding risks in holistic ways to enable the business to make choices effectively to leverage risk/reward opportunities while ensuring that the customers, the brand, the shareholders and the market environment are protected for longevity (albeit at differing levels).  This requires a mature view of conservation of the business, its customers and the industry generally.  

Untempered capitalism can result in abuses of society but capitalism monitored and moderated by society (via compliance and regulations) has a proven record of generating value for the society and providing opportunities for personal industry to members of that and connected societies.

Ford and Target or two notable companies that are trying to develop some tools that let them have insight much like a local merchant from decades ago who would watch for something you like when it came available and make sure to set one back for you.  It’s personalized consumerism at scale and if it works, specifically while protecting us consumers and our data, then we all benefit.