Wednesday, October 19, 2005

let them go, and if they love you...

I talked about this in the interview but for my own sanity need to get it down on paper. One of the arguments against giving users control of their data and control of their relationships is that businesses and organizations would ‘lose control’. There is a fear that all of an organizations members (customers) would cut them off and they would be left high and dry with no affiliations left.

First let me tell you what I mean by ‘giving the user control’:

I am using a very simple use case; rather than the organization keeping my name and my email address, they just keep my i-name. Whenever they want to contact me they look up my email address, it doesn’t matter how many times I change it, as long as I don’t revoke their permission to see it, they can get my current email. I do have the right, and the ability, to revoke permission (as I should).

Here is why I think the fear is fallacious:

The ADMA (American Direct Marketing Association) says that mailing address data ages, becomes bad, at a rate of 15% a year. I couldn’t find statistics on email address aging but you have to assume that it ages faster than mailing addresses given how much easier it is to change email address than move house. So lets assume that email data ages at a rate of 20% ( and I think that is low). So, today, an organization can expect to lose 20% a year of their relationships simply due to the inefficiencies of the infrastructure. By adopting an identity centric architecture (ICA) an organization can eliminate this attrition completely. So what about the people that ‘opt-out’; well, they weren’t interested in your stuff anyway, clearly. If over 20% per year of people that have established relationships with you jump ship; you have a deeper problem that needs to be addressed. So, the net is, you have more people, more relationships, and they are known to be of a higher quality.

I think this is profound; by respecting your constituents, and empowering them, you end up with better relationships with more people. So you save above the line because you have a more efficient information system and you make more below the line because you have more, better qualified, relationships.

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