The market of one

In the Market of One, personalised products and services treat everyone as a unique individual

Open Banking is yesterday’s news. People are now talking about Open Insurance, Open Pensions and even Open Health… But why stop there? With open APIs connecting the vast datasets being collected by mobile phones, wearables, sensors and IoT devices, we are entering the age of Open Life. So do we now need a ‘minimum viable metadata set for the human’ or ‘the API of me’ to create products and services that will deliver health, wealth and happiness?

As everyday objects and experiences become digitised and connected, customers are demanding – and smart businesses are providing – technology experiences centred on the preferences of individuals. In the era of big data, hyper-personalised objects are creating a ‘Market of One’. This is only possible by data being king, especially in a world that will be increasingly driven by AI which uses data to develop its algorithms.

The next gen of brand leaders

When every car, home and consumer device has its own conversation with customers, enterprises must work hard to make sure they get those experiences right before someone else does. Companies that succeed in this Market of One will become the next generation of household names.

Big players like Amazon already threaten companies who are middlemen value extractors – businesses who have large profit margins and opaque pricing, yet who have bolted on customer experience as an afterthought. The likes of Amazon understand that the true standard for hyper-personalisation is interacting one-to-one with individuals rather than segments, and that to anticipate any individual’s desires requires deep customer insight derived from analysing granular data.

Companies with this customer insight are fast evolving in the Market of One, which is creating huge opportunities. According to a recent Venturebeat report about consumer preferences:

  • Forrester found that 77 per cent of consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalised service or experience
  • Accenture found that 75 per cent are more likely to buy when a retailer has recognised them as an individual and provided recommendations based on their unique needs
  • Infosys discovered that 59 per cent rely on personalisation to influence their shopping choices
  • Rapt Media found that 63 per cent look favourably on brands that offer valuable, interesting or relevant content
  • Infosys revealed that 74 per cent get frustrated when they encounter website content that’s not personalised
  • Marketo learned that 63 per cent get annoyed by companies blasting generic ad messages at them all the time
  • Marketo also found that over 78 per cent reject offers unless they’ve been personalised to their previous brand experience.

Regulatory changes, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) in banking, have given people greater control over their own data, which is now driving new citizen-centric business models. Open Banking has been revolutionary and is quietly upending the insurance world. Advances in sensor, robotic, telemetric and other technologies are making it possible to gather detailed information on an individual’s risk, mitigate it and also accurately price it. As this happens, the services that insurers have traditionally handled — underwriting, policy creation and risk pooling — may soon give way to new ones, such as protection by prevention and other ways to meet the customer’s needs.

Creating personalisation for all

The ultimate goal of enabling access to personal data is for personalisation, and nothing can be more personal than genetic data. At-home DNA testing kits were one of the most fashionable gifts last Christmas, driven in part by dramatic developments in our understanding of genomics and the interplay between genes and the environment (including lifestyle, nutrition, fitness and the microbiome) that will help us keep well. Insights that can be gathered from DNA and other health, behavioural and consumer datasets can drive ‘smarter’ research and more personalised strategies to increase our ‘healthspan’.

As owners of data and citizens of many economies — internet, application, information, API — we have a myriad of tools and technologies available to manage as we see fit. But as consumers, we don’t often consider how we can exploit our data. Enabling the sharing of our own personal data is at the heart of concepts like a Personal Data Store to better visualise and market personal data. This is what is driving entrepreneurs to create blockchain-enabled secure data marketplaces like and Mydex that put data in the control of the consumer and provide a mechanism for them to monetise it.

However, a recent paper in Nature argued that data is not so much knowingly created by the user of connected devices as it is observed or captured in the course of normal use. Networks of sensors in IoT devices can discreetly collect usage and behavioural data, often within the home, in order to anticipate and respond to our needs using machine learning and AI. Data from fitness trackers, internet browsing and smartphones can also be seamlessly and tirelessly captured.

Yet the extent and potential value of this collected data remains unclear to most users, a fact which continually undermines the aims of GDPR. Digital services and devices increasingly operate on a linked-up basis, in which information is shared between networks of devices and service providers. The use of user identifiers by such networks provides seamless data sharing and personalised experiences. These are rooted in identification technologies which are used to manage authentication, data access and transfer, and inferential analytics.

Monetising personalisation

Clearly, these hubs can be of significant commercial value. In 2017, a consortium of some of the biggest tech firms announced the Data Transfer Project, an initiative designed to facilitate the exercise of users’ right to data portability under the GDPR, via common data interoperability standards and data transfer mechanisms.

Smart, agile companies like are keeping up with such data developments by recognising that people expect a brand experience that matches their digital lifestyles. Today’s consumers demand improved ease of use, relevance and personalisation, delivered across channels in a frictionless and consistent way. Social and media interactions can be mediated by software and turn IoT sensor data into monetisable experiences. These can unlock context-aware personalisation, obtaining behavioural insights and real-time automation based on a timeline of contextual moments, situational context and relevant behavioural profiles. aims to capture how people go through their day and identify moments that matter in order to improve their lives.

Omar Fogliadini, Managing Partner of, says, “In 2019, integrations with digital assistants are no longer a differentiator. Brands will need to showcase what people can actually do with these integrations. The most successful integrations will be those that make people’s lives easier and help them get things done. Big Data is primarily about correlations whereas Small Data is about causal relationships. It’s time to enable a predictive relationship to proactively – not just reactively – support the end user.”

What does the future hold? With predictions that there will be 20 billion IoT devices in the world by 2025 – that’s three times the global population. The data being collected on these devices is on a scale previously unseen, which is why quantum and edge computing will become so critical. But as the IoT matures, a wide range of social, legal and ethical issues will grow in importance.

The rise of surveillance capitalism

Last year, a Gartner survey of IoT projects showed that 35 per cent of respondents were selling or planning to sell data collected by their products and services. The theory of infonomics takes this monetisation of data further by seeing it as a strategic business asset to be recorded in the company accounts. By 2023, the buying and selling of IoT data will become an essential part of many IoT systems.

But will citizens be happy with this? As consumers become more savvy, and digest the ramifications of recent scandals at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, there are concerns over an emerging ‘surveillance capitalism’, a new concept coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff.

Zuboff argued in a recent article that, “Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets.”

If this is where we are heading, are we – the citizens and consumers – really going to be in control of our own ‘Market of One’?