Author: Glenn Parry

Personal Data Research at UWE

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By Glenn Parry 


The HAT-related research Dr Alex Kharlamov and I have been doing at the University of the West of England (UWE), in partnership with colleagues at other institutions, has been focused on personal data.

The first major piece is related to how personal data in the home might help inform business models. IoT (Internet of Things) provides an opportunity for firms to gather direct data from the home on how people use their products and services. We analysed what resources are in the home and created four categories of associated ways they can be measured which we named use visibility measures: depletion measures, consumption measures, experience measures and interaction measures. So, if we consider a tin of beans, it is a depletion resource with a very long shelf life. The home owner may have several tins in their cupboard. The supplier currently has no visibility of the number of tins in storage or the rate and time of consumption. With the power of the IoT, it would be possible to track this and replenish in a smart way such that when a tin is consumed another is automatically delivered. This changes the business model for the retailer and the nature of the resource moves from depletion to consumption. It also offers possibilities for more sustainable supply.

IoT data may also allow us to see how a resource is used. For example, does the homeowner microwave or stove heat the beans, how are they used in combination with other foods, what times of day are they consumed and by whom? Such detailed data reveals opportunity to create new offers and for the provider to engage in dialogue with the homeowner to improve their experience. However, data sharing at this level raises concerns about privacy and vulnerability. Our current research is addressing this important issue.

We started researching in the domain of medical data, as we perceive this as the most sensitive data and the principles of privacy and confidentiality are paramount in this domain. With medical data, we have found that people do evaluate the risk and benefit of sharing. We have also discovered that the majority of patients share medical data. Some of the possible interpretations of this finding is that individuals neglect the potential risk or over-estimate the potential benefit. Another possible interpretation is that patients do not fully understand the implications of sharing. There is more work to be done here.

In a different study, we focused on assessing perceived individual vulnerability towards sharing personal data. We found that individuals tend to be generally risk-taking, and do not feel vulnerable with regards to data such as their identity data, email address, affiliation, etc. Identity data can be used to masquerade as someone else and causes one of the most common and eminent threats today. In contrast, people tend to be primarily risk-averse, and feel vulnerable if sharing information of national security value or information threatening business survival. We find that people overestimate the likelihood of rare types of data loss and underestimate of the most common and most likely types of data loss when it comes to data relating to their finances (credit card or bank account details) or account access (passwords to different websites, or social media).

Our latest work seeks to measure individual risk-taking and risk perception for data. One finding is that risk-taking associated with information privacy is related to the ethical risk position of the individual. Institutions tend to judge and model data loss from a financial point of view. The finding shows a contrasts with consumers who do not view information privacy from a financial point of view, but rather from an ethical standpoint. The work suggests modelling risk associated with consumer data loss purely on financial terms is wrong and models needs to factor in the ethical judgements of the consumer in the case of data breach.

A Co-Investigator on the HAT Project, Glenn Parry is Professor in Strategy and Operations Management with Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

HAT and a Market Overview

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HAT and a Market OverviewHAT and Market Overview

Internet access is finding its way into more and more devices. We now have Internet enabled TV, fridges, cookers and cars. You can buy a kettle that you can text so that it boils. This movement of everyday items onto the web is named the internet of things (IoT).  As with other internet based interaction, a lot of data is generated.

The current accepted paradigm is the company that you buy from, or service you use, takes your data. The supermarket knows all your shopping habits and can infer a lot about your life. However, they cannot know the context of consumption; who you ate the food with and why, as that data isn’t currently available to them. A single firm can only see the data from the vertical supply chain they are in. If the supermarket could see who was in your house, when, why and what they consumed they could more accurately provide goods and services to you; even automate the process fully to predict demand based upon who was coming. Contextual data is potentially much more valuable than sales data as it provides the “why?” to the purchase question. It’s all possible, but it requires a lot of intrusion into daily life.

This is where the Hub-of-All-Things [HAT] becomes important.  The HAT project brings together experts from the universities of Warwick, Exeter, the West of England, Nottingham, Cambridge and Edinburgh to create a multi-sided-market-platform (MSMP) for the home. A MSMP is the digital equivalent of the old fashioned market square. Many traders can come and sell their wares (apps and devices) and negotiate and barter over prices and exchanges. The HAT acts as a data container, holding the data for all the devices you buy.  A core value of the HAT is that all data generated in the home is owned by you, the individual home owner. You can therefore use the data in the bartering process, which gives you the consumer control over the data and some power in negotiation.

There are a number of markets possible. A market for devices and linked applications will develop which link to the web via the HAT, giving you control for heating systems, burglar alarms, and devices to tell you if you left the door open, or let you turn on your kettle before you get home. A market will develop for integration applications that knit together many devices and their data providing analysis and outputs to tell you things, such as how you may save money on heating, or eating better and staying healthy. These are internal markets for the home. Externally, firms will negotiate for access to your data so they can understand better how their offerings are used or consumed; allowing them to innovate new offers and more exactly meet your needs.

Value slippage occurs when the value creator is unable to capture worth and benefit from their efforts. Data is the result of your digital labour. If other individuals, organisations or society benefits more from your digital efforts than you do this will show as slippage and this dis-incentivizes long term value creation –  you will stop collecting data as you feel it’s unfair. You must be incentivized as a value co-creator, which helps provide control in the market.  In addition, HAT will provide security controls to protect your data and ensure the power remains with you.

You can keep up to date with developments of the HAT project on

This blogpost is originally text for inclusion in the forthcoming edition of Chaffey, D, White, G. Business Information Management: improving performance using information systems (3rd Edition), Pearson Education.

HAT in a newsletter

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HAT in a Newsletter

I recently wrote a piece for an executive recruitment company’s news letter and thought I would also put it here as it seems to engage people in this idea:

Written By Dr Glenn Parry – 25th April 2013

We all spend a lot of time on the internet. Increasingly the things we use have some form of internet connectivity. Our telephone company, banks, utilities and supermarkets all utilise the web to interact with us. However, very few of the things we use every day are connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is a concept where we can connect more of the objects around us to the internet and make them work for us. As an example, my kettle is not connected to the internet. I think it should be. I want to be able to tweet it to boil from my front room. I want the GPS in my phone to locate me when I am 1 mile away on my drive home from work and have it boil so I can make tea the moment I walk in the door. But what if things were smarter? Many items may not seem readily internet connectable. But what if video sensors could be told what a pair of spectacles looks like? The sensors can track images of the rooms and recognise your glasses. If you lose them, you just ask the house where they were last seen. This technology seems futuristic but is almost ready now.

Such connectivity requires a home base station to connect things in the home, collect data and hold the applications chosen to run in the house. This is the basis of the Hub of All Things [HAT] project. To begin in June 2013 and last 2 years, the HAT project involves 9 researchers from the domain of Economics, Business, Computing and the Arts from 6 UK universities of Warwick, Exeter, Nottingham, Cambridge, University of the West England and Edinburgh.

The project aims to create the hub and sensors for the home. To be trialled in a small number of homes, sensors will be installed and tested, collecting data on the lived life. What is interesting for business is how people use things in the homes. The supermarkets have data on your food purchase, but not what you eat, when or with whom. Their vertical data stream doesn’t describe the lived life. The HAT can collect data on individuals’ consumption, behaviour and interactions with people and objects. The project will seek contextual archetypes, the common shared activities and processes of living life in the home, and describe those using data. This will reveal dependencies between industries. For example the effectiveness of the medicine you take is likely closely linked to the food you eat, the exercise you take and your sleep. By developing algorithms to mathematically embed context into data, the project will facilitate the creation of almost limitless new business models and data-driven innovation.

If all this scares you into thinking that firms and government will be even more a “big brother”, the H.A.T seeks to reverse that. Crucially, all data generated by the individual is owned by the individual, with no access except with permission and based on a limited time. Their “digital labour” is a commodity to empower the individual to create exchanges of data for products/services for more innovative and personalized offerings of the future (think about retailers providing personalised wardrobes, groceries and even medicine). Likewise manufacturers can share data with the home to “upgrade” the lived life. The HAT subscribes to personal empowerment and preservation of privacy while being able to stimulate growth in the economy through new innovation in businesses, products, services and new business models.

If anyone reading this makes kettles, let’s talk.


Original text may be found on the Moon Consulting website here:

Context and use

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Context and Use

As we begin our project on the Hub of All Things I am becoming increasingly aware of other people talking about context. The questions that come up are “What does ‘what you are doing’ effect the things around you?” OK, as far as I can see at the moment, it pretty much doesn’t. But what if it could? What are the opportunities?

I was thinking about this and remembered my friend James as a kid having a really cool car stereo which had a microphone on it. It got louder and quieter depending on background noise so it notionally stayed the same volume. That was ….. oh dear …. 22 years ago which makes me feel old. Tonight I was drying my daughter’s hair with a hair dryer and she couldn’t hear her Peppa Pig DVD so I turned it up. When I finished and turned off the hair dryer suddenly the DVD player was way too loud until I managed to turn it down. It didn’t respond to the change in context – 22 years later.

So, what are contexts and contextual archetypes? I am learning about this. What are the common contexts that we may recognise?

Lovely piece here by Bryan Clark looking at how your TV could display differently depending on what you are doing.

Responsive Television Bryan Clark

It would appear that there are lots of opportunities to respond to context and the technology has been around for over two decades. What other contexts and technologies could open up new opportunities for business? Feels like that is the space that immediately I find interesting, but I full expect other things to come up.

In this project we will seek the contexts and hopefully open the door to business to provide some answers. And hopefully I will get the hang of blogging about it.