The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) midata initiative, introduced to ensure financial and retail brands provide consumers’ behavioural data back to customers, has yet to gain momentum.
However, following a consultation earlier this year with banks and retailers, BIS announced that companies who fail to participate voluntarily will be forced to provide consumers instant digital access to data collected for marketing purposes. It has now given companies until September 2014 to show progress or face legislation.
Employment and Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said of the initiative: “Many businesses reap huge commercial benefits from the information they gather from consumers’ daily spending patterns. Why shouldn’t consumers also benefit from this by having access to their own data to enable them to make better choices?” she adds.
From a consumer point of few, the initiative could make sense. But the big assumption with it is that companies hold this information in an accessible form, whereas in reality it is very likely that it will be stored offline in slower disk storage or even tape. This type of data is rarely accessed more than once so it’s a prime candidate to be archived almost immediately – and the cheapest option is tape.
Any initiative to put this data in a more accessible form will require a significant investment in IT infrastructure and add increased security risks of this data being hacked. Without a viable business reason suppliers are likely to be reluctant to finance this investment – and this may explain the slow uptake so far.
It may be that consumers will end up bearing the costs and ultimately pay for access to this information. The question is whether we want to pay higher energy bills so that our suppliers can pay for the investment.
There’s already huge pressure on financial services companies in particular to get their data in good shape to meet regulatory demands. Midata is one more reason to think about how to store, manage and recover data efficiently and cost-effectively.