Let's move forward to 2020. A combination of class action lawsuits and strict regulation around the world following the Cambridge Analytica scandal has led to the dissolution or collapse of digital giants. The remaining digital brands are constrained by strict regional regulations that bring social good and consumer protection on par with the creation of shareholder value.
Consumers are now in control of their personal data and the design of the data economy. The regulatory push was precipitous and painful and has made some investors extremely unhappy, but collectively we are now in a much better position. Here is why:
1. Consumer Champions Rule
Consumer Advocacy will be a big deal with B Corporation mentality instead of the discredited Silicon Valley "Startup culture of today's scary is the need of tomorrow". That does not mean that we can not be commercial. For a fee, professionally-trained and highly regulated personal data brokers ̵
. 2 Users can hack themselves to improve themselves
GDPR2 and its US equivalent require businesses in all sectors to open their APIs for regulated, ethical startups that offer the best services to consumers to "mine" theirs to facilitate personal information. Driven by data portability and the latest data science tools, self-hacking and self-improvement is a massive socio-cultural trend across the board, where consumers can pool their bank's personal information, online shopping, performance reviews, and healthcare providers comprehensive, holistic insights into their behaviors and inclinations, as well as individual advice for improvement. There is a growing movement among the A-list celebrities to share these insights with certified B-Corp brands that design personalized, socially and environmentally sustainable services to help them better manage their jet-set life – or even better versions of themselves for Gwyneth Paltrow types.
3. Data decentralization empowers communities
Nowhere is the power shift from platform stores like Google and Facebook to consumers more apparent than at the community level. Smart, motivated consumer groups bundle their data sets and behave more like suppliers who require commercial trading on commercial terms to ensure the correct market value for the transfer of their personal information in exchange for products and services. Local parent groups come together to provide Walmart or Walgreens with anonymized data on their shopping habits and receive discounts in their local store. In the UK, inmates at several established security prisons have recently offered to collect data on their learning styles and rehabilitation in return for improved visitation rights.
. 4 Data Activism – "Dataism" – Begins
While the digital imperialism of GAFA platforms has long since passed, the anger about the casual exploitation of consumers' personal data remains. Consumer advocates in the US, UK and France, skeptical of governments' ability to protect them, are taking revenge on data-abusing brands by pooling themselves to make multiple requests for their data. Known as a "data vision", this practice creates such a volume of inquiries that politicians fear that the aggressive time scale that is needed could place enormous amounts of pressure on companies of all sizes and even government departments, possibly leading to their collapse.  5. Grandiose Ad Claims Are Cracked
Ad Retargeting has not only fallen victim to data protection legislation, but now that consumers have their personal information and can verify that a cell phone contract or loan is appropriate for their real-time use, it is the end of the series for terrific advertisements like "The most popular airline in the world". Some well-known brands have fired even more well-known advertising agencies for lack of customization, and a wave of conferences and articles called "Transparent Advertising" and "After Retargeting." Personalized pricing services based on actual consumer data usage are the norm an increasing trend towards mass extermination and massive price collapse wars.
In short, 2020 is an intoxicating mix of decentralization, empowerment and take-back control. More generally, consumers around the world understand the value they have in a data-driven economy. Some proclaim a new form of capitalism. Less meaningfully, consumers no longer feel like farmers in the crazy ego-driven puppet-puppet theater of 2018.
This article is fictional and the result of much optimism as well as mild cynicism about the areas covered here:
John Oswald is Global Principal at Futurice, an international innovation and delivery agency based in Helsinki that helps companies to be sustainable.