Is Your Car Telling On You?

We all know that information technology is giving away a lot of information about us every day. Whenever you use a Google GPS app, you are telling Google where you are and where you are going. When you use a scanning app to get the best price you are telling lots of folks where you are and what you want to buy.

I’m sure you can think of more but a recent one caught my attention. In the Nov 2011 issue of IEEE Computer, there is an article by David Alan Grier (the computer science professor, not the guy from ‘In Living Color’) titled “The Honest Give-and-Take” that discusses the scale and scope of information in our society.

What struck me about the article is the anecdote that he uses about his new car. In short, he did not want to fill out surveys and preferences at the car dealer, but he did want to stay in touch via email whenever he needed service. As he continued to bring his car in for service, the targeted emails to him got more specific and accurate. Essentially, every time he brought his car in, the dealer would download his trip computer’s information about everywhere he drove, how long the trips were, how often he drove, etc. Despite being a bit put off, it got me to thinking….

How can a small business use this type of information access to compete with the big companies?

As all devices get connected to the cloud there is more info about everyone that is available. This information has often been available to big companies with massive resources. It is now becoming available to everyone thanks to inexpensive computing combined with access to the cloud.

As a small business, you could use the information to better serve your customers by providing insights into their potential purchases. Alternatively, you could tell your customers that their privacy is important to you, while it is not to the larger companies that are tracking their every move. You could still use aggregated information to improve your overall business while preserving privacy.

What opportunities would you like to see offered, more information or more privacy? What are ways that a small business can use tracking technology to better serve customers without raising security concerns?  We welcome your comments.
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