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Companies compete to serve individuals based on extensive online information

Personal clouds to serve digital selves

Companies compete to serve individuals based on extensive online information

The battle to serve your digital self has erupted, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Forrester’s surveys show that individuals all over the world are using personal cloud technologies to store their personal and work stuff—files, contacts, photos, music, and videos—in online services. In the United States, 77% of online adults use one or more of these services, while in Europe 61% do so.

As a result, there’s now a new internet gold rush to help people build their “digital self” to help access, manage, and benefit from their digital information using any smartphone, tablet, PC, or web browser.

According to the report, today’s personal cloud tools for managing the digital self will evolve into a full ecosystem of services in three phases: 1) satisfying simple needs, such as file sync; 2) services such as financial management; and 3) curated ecosystems, offering holistic sets of federated services.

In a blog post, Forrester’s Frank Gillett explains, “Once your digital self is stored in online services, it becomes possible for providers to serve you with not only automated storage but advice. These providers do things like automatically uploading your digital photos, synchronizing your contacts everywhere, and automatically assembling your expense report from photos, scans, or emails of receipts. Or even advising you on the right financial strategy or workout times based on your spending logs and work calendar.”

According to the report, the battle will play out over the next six years, and lines will be drawn based on which vendors step up to the plate.

“Individuals will come to be defined as much by where they store their digital selves as what their nationality is. The big American internet companies, major telcos, retailers, financial companies, and even some governments will compete to be the digital butler for the web of services that make up your digital self,” says Gillett. “Who you choose will define you and your choices will remake the power dynamics of the online world.”

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of ABA Banking Journal and editor of the publication’s TechTopics e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each TechTopics issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at jginovsky@sbpub.com.

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