Digital footprint: inputs and outputs

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Extract from “My Digital Footprint”, this is from the Chapter 6, "A two sided business model"



Having studied the left-hand side of Figure 28, let’s now consider the digital footprint (right-hand side) of that diagram. We study digital footprints from two perspectives: the feedback loop and mobile. We do this by studying the inputs and outputs of MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT. We have introduced the concept of inputs and outputs for MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT  and we recap them here: the inputs to MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT  are the data elements and the outputs are the value derived from the process which is in turn enhanced by the feedback loop.

It is worth noting that attention (input) and reputation (output) are often called the ‘currencies of the web’. Economic value is created from these two from the ability to trade and barter (output). Given that time is scarce, attention is scarce.




Data that indicates what you are doing, it is the provision of data that details what applications and services you are engaged with. This could be a widget on your desktop, mobile or set-top providing insight into which applications are open, how long you edited a document, which pictures you viewed, what music you listened to and how often. The attention data stream is the record of what you spend your time doing in a digital world on TV, web and mobile.


The data record of where you are. The live feed is collection, where you were (route taken) if stored.


The time data record is both the time of day and also the period of time.


The data string of search requests, currently the text words (and voice-based search on Google mobile), put into a search engine but progressing to automated search based on requests from 3D barcodes and local available intelligence.

Content (create)

The data record of type, context and information about the content you have created for text, voice, presentation, music, audio, images, video, blogs, tags and recommendation.


This is the dataset that defines what you are doing whereas attention says you are looking at a web page, activity defines that you are at a football ground. Location gives you the co-ordinates.


Intent is an output which provides predication about what you will do next, based on what you have done, what your social graph does and also on what you have told/inferred/implied that you are about to do, such as your calendar, email or IM trail. Whereas context is about now; intent is about next.


Reputation (digital) has many components. Reputation is both about a rating (good and bad) and about your propensity to do something such as leave a comment. Reputation (digital) is therefore partly about your value to the community as a participant.

This output data produces a record which is your digital reputation.


This output provides concepts, ideas, insight to enable the user to discover. Discovery is about risk and comes in the form of improvement to an exiting service or discovery of a new service/application.


This is where, based on your digital footprint (you and your social graph), a service/application is able to make a recommendation about an existing or new product or service with a degree of confidence that it will be relevant. Where discovery is risk, recommendation is about trust.


This is where your data can be used to protect you and your data, in the same way fraud on credit cards works. Your data is a good predictor if you are the individual who is providing the data. This does depend on humans and certain social groups being creatures of habit.


This is where the application or service is personalised to a user for the particular instance or time. It is the modification of a generic service automatically (without user intervention, such as time zone updates) but based on what is known about you. Often the spectrum of personalisation is Vanilla, Tailored, Personalised and Customised.

Trade or barter

This second order output function enables the user to trade or barter for goods or services. The trade or barter will not be for cash (this is payment) but for data or for insights, research, etc. This trade of barter is based on input data, analysis, intent and reputation.

Contextual adaptation

This is where the service or application will adapt to deliver a service that is unique to the individual’s requirements based on the existing environment.

It is worth re-stating that the mobile device enriches the digital footprint because the mobile can be viewed as a platform that contributes additional data to the digital footprint, and not just as a determinant of how content is consumed on the device. There is more value created by getting data off a mobile device than on to it.

If we view Figure 28 from the perspective of the customer, the story depicted on the left-hand side is how a typical business operates today and has done so for a long time and will continue to do so. The right-hand side shows this new world of 2.0 thinking: participation, network effects, real-time, collaboration, participation, collection, creation and treating the web (and mobile) as a platform.

Knowing that the mobile is in your pocket from the moment you wake to the time you return to sleep, that same device can know what you are doing, where you are doing it, the applications you use and who you are with. Thus, the mobile device can become the method for collecting data that could be helpful for other services that I would like to consume. The automation of this collected data can become my CV, it could be my reward calculator and indeed could complement a whole host of other documents and certificates that we use today. MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT will never ‘replace’ actual documents or certificates, but rather complement them by providing a method of determining proof. For instance, MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT may not be my Passport, but could contribute to my Passport. More importantly, in the near future, it could act as a means to personalise my services – provided I can influence it.

The enrichment feedback loop 

The importance of the feedback loop is critical to the success of a digital footprint as it has the capability to enrich the outputs. We discuss this idea in greater detail below by looking at some of the outputs and how it becomes enhanced by the feedback loop.

As a practical measure of enrichment, could the feedback help with control of my kids’ pester power? My daughter comes home and tells me that all her mates have one, it is the item to have and she wants one too. Would it be beyond the world of privacy and value to say, “well let's have a look!” I then would go to a browser application that could have a look to see who from my social group has purchased one or who has the intention to purchase or who has one and says it is a waste of money.

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