The idea that you, as an individual person or as a company, should be able to control information about yourself on the Internet has been around since the commercialization of the Web, but it does seem to be gaining more mindshare recently. The New York Times’ small business blog recently surveyed some of the growing number of players in the consumer tracking data space and the level of investment behind these emerging firms seems to indicate that a bunch of analysts think there is some money to be made in this area.
The B2B space, however, is where the real action will be when “purchase intentions” and RFPs begin to take hold. In the B2C marketplace (more on that in a future post) there may be hundreds of firms tracking and appending metadata to your Web user “record” (demographic data, web usage patterns, geographic data, etc.), but, by one estimate, there are some 4,000 variables in B2B relationships.
Doc Searls, the VRM guru who just spoke at SubscribedUK on October 4th, made the insightful point that selling your own data doesn’t work economically except under one circumstance: when you know you are going to buy something. At that point, for example when you express the intention to purchase a new automobile in the next three months, you could sell your own “lead” information for a significant amount of money. (I can’t wait to watch companies scramble to find a way to make that model work!) Again, Searles believes the market for “intention” data hasn’t yet emerged and the real action will come when businesses finally “weigh in” and insist on managing the information about their huge volume of purchases.
This leads to two important questions for all owners of B2B database products, questions that will demand answers in the very near future. First, how will your company get relevant “intention” data from its customers? And second, how will your company optimize its own intention data?