Tech Brands Consume Users’ Personal Data to Join Healthcare Race

Google purchased a health-tech startup that lets a smartphone diagnosis a number of acute conditions. Amazon has joined with WebMD to help Alexa, Amazon’s always-connected in-home personal assistant, answer health and medical questions.

Non-traditional healthcare companies are entering the healthcare arena by employing user data and taking advantage of in-home devices.

How They Do It

Google is the most used search engine in the United States with a 64 percent market share, nearly 11 billion searches every month. The company already collects significant amounts of data about its users including, but not limited to:

  • Search history
  • Videos watched
  • Ad clicked on
  • Websites visited

Amazon is the world’s third-largest retailer. There’s a good chance you’ve shopped there more than once. Maybe you bought an Alexa. Amazon, like Google, collects data about its customers. Amazon knows your basic personal information, of course, but also knows what you’ve bought and looked at while online.

This is a long way of saying consumer brands, especially those you frequent often, know a lot about you. It’s accepted that when you use certain services the trade-off is that you leave behind a lot of data, which is used to sell to you. But if you’re a little concerned that Google knows your entire search history, how will you feel when it also knows you have asthma or that you’re being treated for depression?

“Research tells us that organizations that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin,” according to a McKinsey article.
This is at least part of the reason behind why so much information—so much Big Data—is collected about consumers.

How do you feel about Big Data? Is the trade-off between better service and less privacy worth it?


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