What Are You Really Worth?

I do mean really, can you really put a value on your being, your presence on this planet?  For starters, define value. I imagine that it is quite a different figure to that which you are paid, the increase you are going to carefully negotiate for, cometh the pay/performance review. What have you added to your company’s bottom line? Really, how can you express your actual hours of toil to yourself, your family, the shareholders and so on?

Instead, try this: what would a stranger pay for you?  This throws up all sorts of quite deep questions. Perhaps I mean the value of your life, a binary live/die scenario. What value does your life hold to a stranger? Why should they invest their money in your preservation? What is the bottom line for a stranger if they do not have an emotional investment in your continued existence? Perhaps that stranger is just a middle-man and your worth to them can only be expressed in what another third-party will pay for you, regardless of what the final owner of you does with/to you. The more I write the more it sounds like a people trafficking scenario being described in an article on a site devoted to understanding data.

You are worth nothing. Your personal data is worth everything. You are not the customer, you are the product.

Nevertheless, my friend Nick brought the following to my attention:

Future value of data

Image credit: PwC (a publication of some sort) 2019

It turns out that ‘experts’ have predicted the estimated (now there is a get out of jail free word when used in stats/studies) value, not of life per se, but more of a person’s worth. A worth that only some people/organisations will value.

Another shock: Headline grabbing bar charts with bold colours and zero bloody context around them. I get told off occasionally for worrying about trivia like this. My reply is that it isn’t trivia, it is e v e r y t h i n g.  This is clearly a graphic designed to show thought leadership of some description and therefore imbue the reader with a warm feeling that they are in the hands of ‘experts’ who ‘get’ this kind of stuff and that said experts are the ones to choose to help shape your organisational vision for the next millennia. You’ll be at the bleeding edge of thought and stand to leapfrog all your competitors in a trick where you simultaneously disappear in a puff of smoke and hit the ground running towards a new and lucrative market enjoying an unassailable lead. If, of course, you employ the genii at said group of thought leaders proffering such a compelling image of the future.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how these figures were arrived at? Why is a US citizen worth three times that of their European cousins? What was measured, what was controlled for, what was the working hypothesis (apart from baffle the punters with smoke, mirrors and a pretty chart?), when was the analysis conducted, what was excluded and why, how was it analysed, can we have the raw data ourselves please, what data, how is value computed, what markets will pay that, will some pay more or less? And so on…

Here is a little test you can run yourself. Call up a software/hardware firm or management consultancy and see if in a ten-minute chat they can refrain from using the words: Big Data, Blockchain (a new one getting traction), AI, Algorithm, paradigm (falling out of favour these days, I guess the era of New Paradigms has come and gone) or cloud. My guess is at least 4 out of six will crop up. Just saying.

This begs the question, how can we harness this apparent worth and charge for it? Perhaps there could be some charitable models developed around this?

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