Common Data and the Point of Difference

What is Common Data?

Common data is any data that is repeated in multiple locations. For example. Many websites record a users phone number, but in essence it is the same data. If they ever wanted to update their phone number they would have to update it everywhere it is stored. This can be time consuming, annoying, and difficult. There is also a chance they will forget where this data is stored and not update the data, meaning that the businesses will have the wrong information.

Imagine instead users stored their information (like their phone number) in one spot. When a site needed their phone number it just asked for it from this storage place. So the site now has the most up to date information to use in it's service. The site doesn't need to store this information as it can always get the latest data from where the number is kept. If the user ever needed to update their phone number they only have to do it in one spot.

The benefit of storing information in one location is very obvious. It saves time, and makes users experiences much easier and enjoyable. Businesses benefit from more accurate data, and reduced costs (less hardware is needed to store data, and development time is reduced not needing applications to deal with the data).

What is the Point of Difference?

We will explain point of difference using emails as an example.

There are many different web sites that offer email as a service. In essence these sites are exactly the same. They provide email. The reason why a person chooses one over the other is not because of what they do the same, but because of what they do differently. This is the point of difference.

If a person has been using one email service for some time, but wanted to change to another email service because it now suited them better. The person would have to leave all their emails and contacts with the old email service and start from scratch. This would include losing their old email address.

Imagine if the emails, contacts, and the email address was common data. Meaning that it was stored in a central location not with the site that provided the service. This would mean that the person could freely swap to which ever service they wanted without losing any of their emails, contacts or the email address in the process. When the person swaps between services, it simply means that they choose this service to access THEIR data.

So what does this mean for the website that provides the email service? No longer do they have to develop or invest in the storage of all this common data. Instead they can put time and resources into what makes them different from the competition, their Point Of Difference. Which in the end is what makes a person choose their service over another service.

Common Data and the Point of Difference

Developing your point of difference using common data is the way of the future. The benefits to real people living in the real world is a huge leap forward on the model we have now. Costs of developing services and technology is reduced for businesses. Even the environment benefits from reducing the same data being stored again and again and again on many different servers that all use electricity.

The only real perceived negative for business is that caused by fear of losing power and control. If you are a big enough company to have power and control at this time (i.e. your users are locked into your service because you have control over THEIR data), realise that it didn't come from having power and control. It came from what was done in the beginning. Creating something that was better than something else, something that people wanted and or needed. Once you rely on the power and control it's only a matter of time before someone else creates something better, and you lose power and control.

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