Note to Non-Techies 001: Where Does Your Data Go?


I have started a new mini-series known as “Note to Non-Techies”. This came up as a result of the need to share some very interesting conversations I have had with people around me about tech, apps, and other innovations and how they affect their everyday lives (knowingly/unknowingly).

I will be co-authoring this with different ‘someones’.

Thank you!

Recently I was having a conversation with someone who is not in the technology startup scene. We were talking about data. They were excited by a new app they had come across that requires one to simply upload the photos of their receipts on the app and for that, they get rewards such as airtime, discounts, etc. (name withheld) They were actually selling the app to me so that I can get on the bandwagon and start winning. Awesome and easy way to make some quick savings right? 

Well, what she hadn’t realized is how important that data was and what it would be used for.

What does this mean?
Every time you hypothetically share your phone number, email, name, and data of any kind online, this adds onto your digital footprint making targeted marketing easier for you.

Have you shopped somewhere, checked a company page on Facebook/Instagram or Googled a product and the next day your phone was filled with ads for that particular item?

Anything as simple as using your Chrome with your email logged on every time you ‘Google’, when you have multiple apps on your phone all logged in, even having a “redeem points” card from your favorite supermarket or opening a new social media page/account and liking company pages is sharing your data.

Companies like Google have been beefing this up recently by tracking your location and even asking for reviews every time you go somewhere new.

As tech keeps on improving in the form of big data, it will become much easier to collate all your data points into one ‘file’ such that everything you love can be viewed as a group of datasets. This can be easily sold off to different companies for targeted marketing purposes. Over the years, targetted marketing has become a proven method for better post-marketing conversion rates.

I recently came across a startup that is making great strides in this sector, see the video below:

In a snapshot, this startup can track up to 1 billion smartphones with the goal of extracting information on shopping trends. They track which stores you go into, even where you stood and what you picked up and returned or bought. The same technology is also being applied in the Amazon and Alibaba stores. All this is being done simply based on apps that are already on your phone!

So should you be scared or even care?

When I was asked about whether this was a good or bad thing, I honestly believe that it is not necessarily all bad. I personally do not mind getting information about things I like faster. However, I believe that such data should be worth more for me and everyone else involved!

The bigger question therefore is, should you be able to sell your own data and make more from it?


Some key questions/points came up from the ‘someone’ as a consumer in our discussion:

  • Shouldn’t there be knowledge building with regards to what sharing our data means?
  • Why is it collected from ignorant people and is that part of making data collection easier?
  • Should we not then demand for a higher amount because we are sharing their data?
  • In every business there are ethics, what are the ethics when it comes data? How is this applied when it comes to data advocacy

Kwem co-authored as the “Someone”

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