The Personal-Data Tsunami and the Future of Marketing: A Moments-Based Marketing Approach for the New People-Data Economy

Shawn O'Neal



The fundamentals that make economies of scale work are deteriorating before our eyes. Abundant computing power, the free flow of information on the Internet, and the ability to harness data—forces breaking down conventional beliefs—make for a virtual socioeconomic tsunami that is tearing apart the way business runs and how competitive advantage is won and lost.

An ecosystem of information, communication, and methods driven by constantly evolving technology is upending 200 years of truisms. This observation implies the need for a new business model with four basic tenets:

  • Network effects trump size. Third parties are building scale across multiple customers, eclipsing the traditional manufacturing and distribution infrastructure, and reducing the need for the plant, office space, warehouse, and distribution line. Instead, businesses increasingly can tag existing assets brought together by a third party that connects those in need with those that have it.
  • Fixed costs and asset scale are obesity to progress. Think Amazon, Facebook, AirBnB, Uber… After just a few years they are all achieving market cap and industrial size that took decades to achieve in the 20th century. These companies are using information asset scale—the ability to leverage massive assets by connecting third parties through information channels, versus owning fixed assets. The new business model is built for constant transformation where changing parts, capabilities, and tools are the norm; the speed to adapt and innovate outmaneuvers patents and technology strangleholds.
  • Technological advancement comes from the outside, not the inside. New ways of doing everything are changing so rapidly that single entities, even the best and brightest, cannot keep up. Partnering with innovators is the top priority; building fast—adapting rapidly to the best available approach—trumps scale. “100 percent tried and tested” is less important than 80 percent right and fast.
  • The ability to target and market to specific people heightens the opportunity to reach a brand’s relevant audience. And the awareness, trial, and love that follow foster a more catered, lasting relationship than ever before. In this data-driven economy, any small player can find its niche of consumers and deliver higher relevance directly than any two-dimensional brand campaign of the past. The ability to speak directly to consumers is being enabled in ways previously unforeseen and will only advance as we go forward.