How Will You Manage Your Digital Self? - InformationWeek

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Software // Social
12:38 PM
Frank Gillett
Frank Gillett
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How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?

You can't keep track of all the digital content you generate. In the next five years, expect vendors to come to the rescue with digital-self services.

The challenges of managing digital selves represent a big business opportunity for both giant Internet companies and startups. They're angling to get closer to the customer by adding more context and capabilities. These services for the digital self such as the capabilities in offerings like Tipbit, Otixo, Intuit's Mint, and Google Now will define the next generation of online interaction. But as this competition intensifies, companies will jockey for position, cutting in on each other's turf as they vie to be more essential to the customer.

Because all this content is digital, there are no barriers to entry in this competition. Three forces will heat up the competition: 1) a drive to aggregate, combine and orchestrate across multiple services to make new features possible; 2) a desire to get closer to the customers' core needs; and 3) the ability to drive new business models, and gather customers and masses of data to make money from advertising and premium services. Look for these dynamics to develop in three stages.

Stage 1: Satisfying simple needs (2008 to 2013).
Consumers moved from managing their content based on the device to a cloud-based model where the device didn't matter.

Five years ago, expanding device diversity (iPhones, iPads, multiple PCs) drove people to start putting data into the first personal cloud services. Services for file syncing and sharing exploded, with Dropbox amassing more than 175 million users worldwide by July 2013. Other services arrived, most enabled by flexible, inexpensive cloud infrastructure from Amazon Web Services. Services became more diverse than just file sync, like Evernote for saving, organizing and searching for notes and Apple's iCloud for general personal content and preferences inside many different applications.

Stage 2: Services for the digital self (2014 to 2016).
People using different services begin experimenting with intelligent applications that do more than just store and provide access.

In this stage, providers will help individuals search, organize and manage across many digital-self services, not just one. And new vertical services players will enter the market, offering an overview of an individual's financial, retail or medical life by maintaining their data in these areas. These vertical services will function as digital advisors, similar to how financial or health advisors now work in the physical world. The battle for managing digital-self services will cause a lot of expansion and poaching as providers compete for a maturing market.

Stage 3: Curated ecosystems (2017 to 2019).
Ecosystems of services for the digital self emerge in which a core provider offers a range of integrated services.

The expansion stage in the middle of the decade will lead to a shakeout. Buyers, having started out with a variety of automated and intelligent services, will become annoyed with trying to manage services that don't work well together. They will also become frustrated with paying for a bunch of premium services and will consolidate the number of services and providers they have to manage.

These curated ecosystems don’t yet exist in a form we recognize. But we can see early hints in what Amazon does to personalize your shopping experience and to upsell the Amazon Prime service for shipping, movies and Cloud Drive. Other examples include how Google complements its core offerings with API interfaces that other parties can build on, such as Rapportive to add social profiles to Gmail. Facebook Connect, Dropbox APIs, and Evernote Market are other emerging examples of curated ecosystems that will mark the late stages of the digital self.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2013 | 5:58:07 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
Small business owners, we have contact, generate a lot of information in social networks and often fail to control all the consequence of it. Gaeta, Sergio ERP Software Consultant in
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2013 | 10:17:42 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
Kind of a big leap to say "... consumers moved from managing their content based on the device to a cloud-based model where the device didn't matter..." That should read "...some consumers moved," but the reality is that MOST consumers are still in hybrid mode with lots of stuff on a mix of devices (including thumb drives and backup devices) as well as lots of stuff now in the cloud. I think you're vision for digital self service and curated ecosystems have to include a way to address on-device "stuff" and accept there will continue to be a desire to keep things on device so they can be shared offline. This could be as simple as cloud-based services with offline sync.

Bottom line: something that address these challenges only in the cloud will always be an incomplete option for the real consumer audience.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/6/2013 | 10:21:36 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
One answer may be posting generating less digital junk.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2013 | 7:51:09 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
It will be interesting to how data will be managed in the future. Social media, online shopping, email, and anything else online stores data about people. It will be interesting to see how all of that is managed or not managed by individuals.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 2:58:30 PM
The Digital Self and the Future of Data Management
Great post, Frank. Your prediction around services for the digital self in which "providers will help individuals search, organize and manage across many digital-self services, not just one" really hit home for us. Our company, Synata, fits into that stage so we're all too familiar with the data management issues consumers are having.

We wrote a short commentary about your report. Check it out:
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2013 | 3:27:26 AM
personal cloud
An interesting solution is to self host your own server. Not in a tech way, with an SSH command line terminal, but with a high level of abstraction that turns the server into a main stream device, into a personal cloud.

You can check, a personal Cloud you can host, hack and delete that my team and I are developping.

Here is the Demo, I would love to hear your feedbacks,

Cheers !
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