What App Companies Need To Do Regarding Ever-Changing Data

Blog | 23 April 2019

Today, an app is only functional if the data used is current. Think about Facebook. Many people worry about the tech giant’s impact on privacy long-term. But as people learn about issues with Facebook, they may be more selective about the information they post, limiting Facebook’s value to them and others. Also, consider that younger people do not use Facebook often and you will see that there is a strong chance Facebook will not be as influential in a few years as younger individuals prefer other platforms (although in fairness some of those other platforms are owned by Facebook.)

The curse of ever-changing data

 

Similarly, think about apps you use infrequently. Maybe you want to shop on a website you haven’t visited in a while and it only has an expired credit card. You have to fetch your wallet and enter your new card details. In a business context, you went through LinkedIn to find a contact’s email address and your email bounced back because the person changed their email without updating their LinkedIn information.

In all of these cases, a single example of old data, like the expired credit card, might be a minor inconvenience. But as those examples keep happening, the app becomes less and less useful. If Facebook is no longer a place where your friends update what they are doing and is just a place where people post links to public articles that you already saw on other websites, then Facebook becomes less useful for its purpose – staying connected with friends.

This puts app companies in a difficult position and in conflict with users themselves. Big tech companies that have created revenue based on user data will begin to find more and more ways to get users to enter data even when users would prefer not to. We are seeing this already. Many companies have created “opt-in” consent prompts for their sites. However, those consent requests are not useful or fair as users must consent to everything the tech company wishes otherwise they cannot use the app.

 

Empowered customers and turned tables

 

Today, users do not have the same “I need to use this app” mentality. They have more flexibility in choosing how they share data. They use private search, private browsers, and decentralized identity apps to protect themselves while still participating in online commerce. Traditional tech companies will need to find ways to work with this new consumer mindset if they want to succeed. Some players are making efforts. Apple, for example, has become very vocal regarding privacy. Google recently added the private search DuckDuckGo as an option in its Chrome browser. These are baby steps, but we will see a lot more of this.

We will also see new companies come into play that do not make money out of user data, or who find ways to compensate users for their data in order to provide the same services as traditional tech but with more fairness and privacy protection. Over the next few years, we expect to see a major shift in how users interact with apps as they become more sophisticated in regard to personal data management. We will then see which tech vendors saw the shift coming, and which ones got left behind.