Making Finland a superpower of MyData

People should realise that they can reap value from their personal data, writes Vake’s Pia Erkinheimo in her column for Tekniikka&Talous magazine on 1st November 2019.

Once upon a time there were human beings who were so innovative, they could connect people with one another, describe their own behaviour with binary numbers, and collect and save this combined behavioural footprint, called data, to learn more about themselves as individuals and parts of a group. And everybody lived happily ever after. Or maybe not.

Ten years ago, I proposed to my then employer that we should see data as a currency. “You’re absolutely right, but we have far too many acute fires to put out first,” replied management.

I’ve been mulling over the possibilities of data for a long time. Five years ago, I had the opportunity of participating in building a MyData operator. It fell short. However, after this, both the previous and current Finnish governments included personal data in their government programmes, so there is hope yet.

Why then, have we not progressed further with this? Where are all the roaming MyData operators and applications? Activists have already profiled Finland as a superpower of MyData. MyData Global, born from a Finnish initiative, celebrated its first anniversary last month. The MyData Conference, organised in Helsinki for the fourth time this year, is one of our most international annual tech events, alongside Slush.

In our ignorance, we gave away our valuable data to American and Chinese network giants. In the name of fair data economy, we should now strive to encourage everyone whose data is involved, to join in. This means ordinary people, masses of them.

Us digital economy professionals must ensure everybody learns the fundamentals of the platform economy. People should understand their role as value-adding entities rather than consumers. This is the bottleneck – long since recognised by the techno bubble, and cause of MyData activist’s frustration – that is preventing progress.

The question is, how do we get everybody onboard to actively utilise personal data? We should learn to understand the value of MyData, just like we learned to use money as a medium of exchange.

This is how we can get sufficient push and pull for the development of data operators and MyData-based services in our country, which has served as a point of market entry for home electronics companies and on-demand services for decades – thanks to the high level of education, purchase power and interest towards the latest electronics, as well as the general belief in progress.

How can we spread MyData thinking and understanding through positive examples, and facilitate Finland becoming a superpower of MyData? I warmly welcome ideas!