Why does this decade feel like crossroads for technology companies?

When digital interactions became the new normal, that explosion of data sped up the transformation into a connected world as more information was available for collection and analysis than ever before.

Leading companies like Facebook and Google started to walk a tightrope between offering their users services and feeding businesses as much user data on their community as they can to serve them effective ads. To put it another way, the world’s most valuable tech companies started to profit from the personal data their users generate.

Fast forward until today, user’s personal data is now centrally controlled and owned by large corporations.

The process is commonly known as “Data Harvesting.” More than occasionally, these big companies have failed at ensuring the privacy of user data they collect. The users producing the data never receive a share of the profits. To take it a step further, the users or “raw material” are not factored into the income equation.

Let’s take a step back. Companies harvest this “big data” under the guise that it enables them to offer a better user experience by tailoring their service to fit the user’s profile, individual needs, or personality. The data gathered provide businesses with helpful information and deep customer insight that inform their business monetization and customer retention practices.

To maintain this data pipeline, companies layer over the user consent mechanisms using byzantine privacy policies and hidden surprises nestled in plain sight within their terms of service. Often it also provides them with thorough knowledge of various marketplaces, consumer habits, and competitors to generate massive top-line growth.

Currently, seven out of the top 10 most valuable companies globally by market cap are technology companies that either directly generates profit from data or are empowered by data.

After a decade of mostly indifference about data privacy from mainstream society, big tech companies are now being forced to transform as users become more conscious about how their data is used and government officials more concerned about data privacy and targeting. This paradigm shift has given rise to the “Data Sovereignty” movement, aka private data ownership.

Private ownership of your data will create unprecedented opportunities for the new generation, more focused on the digital economy. Data sovereignty empowers people to donate, destroy, trade, or monetize their data as they see fit. They control, they decide.

Which is better for tech companies? Data has immense value. The vast majority of CEOs regard data as an essential asset for success to their business. Some have even called data the new oil.

Companies are not indispensable; services are. The emergence of Bitcoin opens new opportunities and markets built around user-centric data models. We should be the owners of our own personal data and control or consent to how that data is used.

Data sovereignty lets users make money anonymously by consolidating, storing, and sharing the data they generate to provide market research insights to anyone that used to be only accessible by large data companies. It assigns pricing power to the individual, so they have bargaining power. The ramifications are enormous.

Data is no longer the sole domain of giant technology companies. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are under increased scrutiny over the power they yield, the vast and deep knowledge they have amassed.

Data will continue reshaping whole industries and markets. This is the era of disruption, the period of unbounded technological advancement. Tech companies must adapt or risk falling behind because of losing access to the valuable new commodity, which is data.

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