After you have trodden this path come the analysts and the anthropologists -

Extract from “My Digital Footprint”, this is from the Chapter 5

As we have discussed so far, we all create digital footprints as we engage with digital platforms. Platforms like mobile devices will create a larger share of that footprint. Digital footprints will be cross-platform and will be ‘mashed up’ across platforms (for the lack of a better word). We have extended the idea of ‘digital footprints’ to MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS’. The concept of MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT is therefore complex, but this book suggests it is a system and process for the ‘collection, store, analysis and value created from digital data from mobile, web and TV’.

Storage and analysis of digital footprints raises some important questions. Who analyses the digital footprint? Who stores it? What value is derived from the process and for whom?

Humans have always left traces of their activity. The oldest human footprints found date back to about 3.6 million years ago at Laetoli, Tanzania[i]. The ancient human beings who left those footprints would not have known that 3.6 million years later, we modern humans, would analyse them, photograph them, categorise them and draw new insights from those footprints about the people who created them. The difference now is that there is no need to wait 3.6 million years. As soon as those digital footprints are created, there is a host of online companies analysing the cookie crumbs and immediately creating new insights (to be used for commercial reasons).

As we discussed previously, harnessing collective intelligence is the key idea behind Web 2.0. This is not a problem in itself, but the dark side arises if a business entices its audience (customers, clients, delegates, patients, friends) to give up their digital data, collect their digital footprint without their agreement, charge people to view their own data, or sell our data off with the sole expectation of making cash though the one-sided route of exploitation.

On the other hand, the value of digital footprints lies in using the analysis of data and to complement services. However, this use (exploitation) is likened to the most fundamental components of digital identity, that of risk, privacy and trust. These three inter-related components bond and bridge all the characteristics of a digital footprint and identity, as we will see later in business models.

Figure 21 pictorially shows the aspects of the model that will be explored in the next chapter. It shows that on one side there is the collection of data these are the inputs (click data, content data, my data and social data) from web, TV and mobile. These inputs create the digital footprints (raw data) which are stored. This stored digital footprint is analysed to create behavioural DNA. This is what your data says about you. This behavioural analysis is then used to create output, such as service discovery, service improvement and trade or barter.

Figure 21

The connection between the inputs and the outputs is the algorithm.

As previously mentioned, the algorithm is the component that creates the value; the outputs are how that value is realised. The algorithm that computes, combines, compares and analyses the digital footprint is the differentiator for a service provider. A good algorithm can produce success, a poor one can bring a company down. Whilst a company can implement the same algorithm, the way it is presented to the community will also lead to success or failure. This provides the bridges and bonds to risk, trust and privacy and how governance and the culture of the company, led by the CEO, will bring some brands down and others to new heights. Considering the algorithm is important. It is a very complex component and the part of the process that will bring differentiation.