May 31, 2018

Symbiosis Video: Data As Currency


According to innovation expert Alec Ross: Land was the raw material of the Agricultural Age and iron was the raw material of the Industrial Age. Now, data is the raw material of the information age. In this episode of Symbiosis, Chief Visionary Nikos Acuña explores how the flow of data in digital ecosystems is similar to how currencies flow through the world. But what does this mean? This flow of data has remarkable implications for a future in which all transactions, experiences, and occurrences will be captured in real-time.

What are the similarities between data and currency?


Data already moves like money does. It’s transferred between different entities millions of times each second. Though this had little value before, the real value of the data generated by an average consumer will soon be exclusively in their hands. Increasingly, people will realize how unbalanced the old ways were. Everything is information. Therefore all information must be structured in different ways to create value. We now live in a world in which whoever has the best information inevitably holds the keys to creating more value, extracting more insights, and predictive decisions that anticipate our needs. This inherently enhances our experiences.


This is somewhat of a significant departure from how we currently think about transactions. How should we approach this new paradigm in the future?


To understand how data fits into the evolution of transactions, we must rethink our perception of currencies. Currency is how we create and exchange economic value across geography and through time. It is anything that can serve as a medium of exchange, something that can be “cashed out” for goods and services, or used to pay debt or to store value for future use. Data has each of these essential characteristics. Because many business transactions involve buying and selling data, it can serve as a medium of exchange—as cellist Zoë Keating noted in suggesting that instead of sending her royalties, streaming music services should provide her with data about her listeners.


This model certainly alludes to blockchain in many ways. How should marketers be thinking about data as currency, as blockchain and other transparency initiatives grab hold of the market?


We live in a world in which every moment is now being captured in real time. Blockchain will provide a new way to manage customer data assets on the brand side, but it will also empower customers to manage their own data and identity. Attention tokens, and transactional exchanges for value will gain widespread adoption. Brands will pay and reward customers for committing their attention and providing more data related to behavioral and psychographic characteristics, versus using sensitive data like social security numbers for verification.


In the current digital environment, nonhuman traffic, fake profiles, and botnets are abundant. When new blockchain platforms emerge, the integrity of user profiles will be strengthened through diffused validation—all user interactions will be verified on the blockchain, including ad instance IDs, timestamps, meta data, and also how a user’s data is used. This new level of visibility creates new opportunities for marketers to use data to make informed decisions and create more relevant and resonant experiences.

Watch Data As Currency:

What’s next from Symbiosis

Every two weeks, discover a new Symbiosis video. Stay tuned—upcoming titles include:

  • The Singularity
  • Anatomy of Insight
  • The Analyst and the Artist
  • Emotional Intelligence

Want to know more about what inspires Nikos’s topics for Symbiosis videos? Check out these behind-the-scenes blogs:

Keep following the latest about Symbiosis (and more) on Sizmek’s social channels (see below) or on Nikos’s channels at LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.