A few weeks ago I was in India to announce that all data related to IBM’s Watson Customer Engagement solution would be housed in a Cloud data center in India, ensuring that sensitive customer information would not be hosted outside of the country.
This move will enable marketers of Indian businesses and government agencies to create unique customer journeys, while ensuring that their clients have more control over their marketing data in line with data privacy regulations, especially in highly regulated sectors such as Banking, Insurance and more.
While the exponential growth in data has some of us suggesting that data has now become our greatest natural resource, the issues around data privacy and data ownership have also become the areas of greatest concern.
As a student of history, I was reflecting on how the lessons of the past can teach us about the future. During the mid 1500s, the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press led to the democratisation of knowledge throughout Europe.
Within fifty years, there were some 20 million books produced, with this number growing to 200 million within the following 100 years. The democratisation of knowledge was well underway, and while these numbers might appear modest when compared to today’s explosion of data, they were positively cataclysmic for the period.
Quite simply, access to information changed the world order. Interestingly, those countries and that tried to stymy the spread of knowledge fell behind. And today, as was the case almost 500 years ago, how we manage access to data will have significant issues for individuals, companies and countries in the future.
At IBM, I am proud to say, we do not seek to control or monetise data that belongs to individuals or companies. Your data is quite simply, your data. IBM is very clear that our primary role is to help keep that data secure, and to provide the technology that helps extract insights from the data that enable our clients’ future business.
History tells us that those who try to co-opt new technologies for proprietary gain often end up on the wrong side of history. It’s a great learning and something that is as relevant today as it was in Gutenberg’s time.