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Life on the privacy frontier…and the sexiest job of the moment

This is part two of a presentation by trend interpreter Thimon de Jong during the recent Microsoft #connectnow event in Amsterdam. If you missed part one and want to know if you’re suffering from Continious Partial Attention (hint: you are), then follow this link.  Topics for part two are smart customization, the privacy frontier and the sexiest job of the moment. I’ve added my own thoughts along the way and would love to hear what you think – so don’t be shy and leave a message in the Facebook comments section underneath this blogpost, okay? 

Forget customization – here’s Smart Customization!

Believe it or not – customization on the internet is over! We’re moving on to smart customization, a process in which companies know their customers so well that they can predict their needs before they even realize they have them. We all recognize the way customization works at the moment – say, for instance, you book a flight and hotel to Spain and months after our return, you still get the ads for a Spanish holiday on your screen. That is not smart. In fact, it’s pretty dumb. What is smart, however, is that Facebook might soon analyze your posts and notice that you sound kind of down. Or that you haven’t posted pictures from a trip abroad in a while. We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely going to happen. Once Facebook knows how to smart customize, it can propose a new trip – perhaps to a city in Spain you haven’t been to yet, with a boutique hotel you like and a reservation for a date that is still empty in your calender. And of course you can book this trip right there and then. That is smart customization.

Barcelo Raval

Based on a picture I  posted of the Barceló Raval Hotel in Barcelona last year, Facebook might one day propose a new trip to Spain.

Life on the Privacy Frontier

Of course when large companies start to seriously analyze all our data, we get worried about our privacy. However, as customization gets smarter, those worries will probably subside because it will make our lives easier and more fun. The privacy frontier, in other words, is shifting. We give up our privacy more easily. Location-based apps were a big privacy worry a couple of years ago, for example. Now, we just shrug our shoulders when we realize that a majority of the apps on our phone track our location. And did you know that ninety-three per cent of us just clicks the OK button when a website or app asks us to read the small print? And that the other seven per cent who actually bother to open the document close it again after only ten seconds on average.

But where do we draw the line when it comes to our privacy? Facial recognition seems to be a bridge too far for many of us – even though the technology is already there. Smart camera’s have already been installed in Hoog Catherijne for example, one of the Netherlands’ biggest and busiest shopping centers. They just haven’t been switched on yet, because the owners haven’t come up with a business model yet.

The next generation of smart tv, combined with Microsoft Kinect, will look right back at us – either to customize commercials or content. A lot of people at the moment will not want this – but what if they get free content or even a free TV set in return? After all, as Julian Assange has said: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.

Xbox-one-kinect 600px


Picture via

The sexiest job of the coming decade

Creating value out of big data in a smart way will be the sexiest job of the coming decade. And this is where data scientists come in. With their unique combination of computer skills, mathematics, sociology, marketing their job will be the sexiest of the coming decade. In fact, if you look online right now, you will see universities offering data science degrees and big companies all over the world recruiting data scientists.

Next week, I’ll talk you through part three of Thimon de Jong’s presentation in which he explains how we also need to create unconnected moments for ourselves and how Microsoft is implementing this trend in its products.


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