Customers to charge for giving out personal data?

Customer Care is the key to the future for enterprises, and if security and privacy issues are not successfully resolved, customers will begin charging for the information that they hand out freely now, said a high technology futurist at the CIO Forum, an IT strategy conference sponsored by Richmond Events.

The industry has made only incremental progress on the key challenge of security and privacy matters, said James Canton, president of the Institute for Global Futures, based in San Francisco. A revolt may be in store among customers whose information may be compromised via security breaches, Canton said. He gave the opening address at the CIO Forum, which got under way Sunday.

“How about customers charging you for the personalized data … that we collect [now] for free?” Canton asked. Customers might “band together” and collectively charge for the use of their information. “It’ll be called,” he said, and users will expect discounts and other compensation for information about themselves.

This scenario is likely “if we don’t get there first,” Canton said, referring to meeting the challenge of security and privacy breaches.

Canton gave the opening address for the CIO Forum, which takes place aboard the cruise ship Aurora, traveling on the Atlantic seacoast near New York.

Going forward, Canton said some of the other major challenges facing IT executives are: developing on-demand supply chains; CRM, which is a great opportunity and not “a black hole;” transforming the enterprise through e-business initiatives rather than e-commerce; and embracing nanotechnology, which includes new IT building blocks that range from photons and Qubits to chips that may have one billion transistors.

The IT executive’s role in all of this is “to challenge the assumptions about the future of the business,” Canton said. One initiative he suggested during a question and answer period with the more than 200 CIO-level executives is to develop “an internal think tank,” that should be composed of product develop managers and representatives from customer-facing groups. There should also be “monthly focus groups with leading customers,” he said. “Who [else] is going to lead you to the future?”