PIMS – Tune In, Maybe Turn On and Probably Drop Out

I understand the concept of PIMS (Personal Information Management Services), I understand the benefits and partly because of this blog I am motivated to invest my time signing up to a few, after all it is something I have come to feel passionately about.   The question is will the majority of others feel the same?  Now that I have joined 5 different PIMS I Speed-Bump-Signs-80549-bahave some good reasons to think that people will at first tune in maybe turn on but probably drop out.

The Trade Off

Currently there is little effort on our part, others are managing our data for their benefit and we are generally unaware of it being aggregated, analysed and reported on.  There are a network of beacons and trackers that connect all our dots and our time remains intact, in fact it saves us time in bill payments and online searches.  But if you want to manage your own data all of sudden there is quite a bit of work to be done.  When I stored my basic information I had to hunt round looking for my social security, passport, house insurance, household bills, address history, car details, residency card etc.  It took me over an hour and from now on I need to maintain it and update it when necessary.  Then there are the PIMS I joined that are social platforms, these require sign up and several verifications which although simple have more steps than other established networks.  Others required downloading software, sign up and data entry too.

It doesn’t matter what type of PIMS you join, there is an education process that simply takes time; learning what the organisation does, how the system works, signing up and navigating the dashboards.  I think PIMS need to consider how much time a individual is going to give up because each of us will be weighing up our time vs risk or time vs benefit and currently I am still asking how this is making my life easier.

The Intangibles

I am not sure anyone has an emotional response to data management, it really isn’t a sexy subject unless it has government conspiracy stamped on it.  I am not sure that it has yet hit the public what it really means when companies use our data, it is still too intangible.  We can grasp the fraudulent sale of our data or identity theft but targeted marketing? others profiting? better decision making?  Even with the latest Facebook emotional experiment, there wasn’t a mass exodus of people incredulous at the manipulation of our emotional behaviour.  It is all too vague and we are still detached, think of it like white collar crime – when does it get the front page or the crime wave title that more tangible violent crime does.

What are PIMS?

Very few people have heard of PIMS or data management services, and those that I have joined so far do not make it easy.  I have watched a lot of YouTube videos, read a lot of PDF’s and used the help button several times figuring all of this out, others will not.  Companies are not setting themselves up as a service provider but more of a software provider and that is a huge challenge for a beginner.  I would have loved a service rep to give me a call and talk me through it all.  Better still a service where I can give my approval to an organisation who will then connect to other networks and pull my data for me; even provide me with reports, updates or offers. If these services are relying on word of mouth to gain awareness then there needs to be better benefits and more ease.

What’s in it for me?

So far, not much.  Time spent on searching and signing up to all these services? I would guess about 4 hours.  In return I can block companies tracking my online behaviour – in chrome only and I have a central database with all my basic details. But mostly it is still a promise of better things to come; reports on my online behaviour to help me make better decisions, a ‘respect’ button to ensure other sites that I log in to keep my data personal, additional applications in a central dashboard and finally potential to profit from my personal information.  This is all very good but it is still just a concept without enough tangible gain.  I hesitate to make a final judgement because the industry is still young, but it is important it is addressed early in order to engage and hold on to customers.

It’s complicated

When do we store our data, where do we store our data and how do we store our data?  All of these questions are tricky, not only to the individual but those seeking to store it for us, and it is not just our online data it is our offline activity too and it is very hard to keep track of.  With all these items or instances the data accumulates at a rapid pace and important items can get lost amongst the trivial, this requires ad hoc tidying and clerical archiving requiring certain skills and someones time.  How are these management services going to integrate all our data in a uniform interface with a structure that makes it easy for us to reference or query?

Are these the only issues? Please share your concerns or reasons for not trying a personal data service.

In this article I have referenced a great book called ‘Personal Information Management’ edited by William Jones and Jaime Teevan.  If you want to learn more it is a great resource!

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