Is It Possible for Tech Giants to Thrive Without Data Exploitation

Out of all of the resources that exist out there right now, data might just be the single most valuable one because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up allowing tech companies to earn massive amounts of money far beyond what commodities like gold or oil could potentially give anybody. Businesses don’t just need data to directly earn money either, it also helps them to optimize their products and services and to ensure that the needs of the consumer are always met.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that consumer concerns surrounding how tech companies might be infringing on their privacy has resulted in a wide range of restrictions being placed on how these companies can go about using data in the first place. This means that data is not the goldmine that it used to be, which begs the question of whether or not big tech companies can survive without being able to access this all important resource.

The combined value of data derived from the 27 countries comprising the European Union was estimated to be just under 325 Billion Euros back in 2019, and it is predicted that it will be well past half a trillion Euros, or 550 billion to be precise, by the time 2025 rolls around. The Big Five tech companies might struggle to keep going without this with all things having been considered and taken into account, but it’s also not quite as simple as that.

One thing that the use of data has allowed a lot of tech companies to do is reduce the number of employees that they need to keep on staff in order to stay operational. Brick and mortar establishments need to employ far more people which can eat into their potential revenue, and that is a problem that most tech companies would be really eager to address as quickly as they can. Losing access to valuable data might eat into tech company revenues which might make it difficult for them to continue providing free services.

Most tech companies offer a lot of services for free, including search engines and social media platforms. The only reason they are able to do this is because they gain access to the resource that is data, which means that a lot of tech companies might just need to start charging for their services and that might subsequently result in them losing lots of users. A lot of users only have social media accounts due to the reason that it does not cost anything to make one, after all.

One solution that has been proposed is for tech companies to start paying users for their data. After all, if you own a gold mine you will get rich if you allow companies to exploit the resources contained therein. Hence, is it really so strange for consumers to want a piece of the pie if the data they are providing helps tech companies earn such vast amounts of money on a more or less regular basis?

Back in 2016, it was estimated that Facebook earned over $62 per user, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that users might get a small piece of that, enough to keep them engaged in the platform. Whatever the case may be, companies that got rich during the golden age of data provision will now need to figure out a different way to do things. The impact that this would have on the tech industry as well as the global economy could be quite drastic, and it will be interesting to see if users no longer care about privacy once the cost of data privacy becomes apparent to them.

Photo: Matejmo / Getty Images

Read next: Companies Aren’t Being Honest When They Say They Won’t Sell Your Data, Here’s Why
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