Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Can Big Tech Survive Ignoring Customers?

Recently Google announced an new and updated privacy policy. If you noticed, Google sited "consolidation" as one of the key reasons of this policy change. They simply stated that they are simplifying down from a confusing set of privacy policies to one single policy. To better serve us, right? Of course not. Google's new policy is intended to allow them to consolidate your information across all products. That is, they want to build a profile of you. What do you search for, e-mail, post on social media, blog about, and read about. The more content you create and consume the more Google knows about you, and they intend to bring this information together to target you. Lucky us.

Kind of ironic that the simplification of a privacy policy to better serve the customer is really the consolidation of our information to better serve Google. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to assume that companies like Google exist only to better serve me. I do wonder how far they will be able to go though considering their recent antics. Google was recently exposed by some social media giants for doctoring their search results. As a consumer, we have a tendency to view search results as something sacred, open, and transparent. We hardly expect that Google wold be adjusting those results to favor themselves and their interests.

Google isn't the only one flying in the face of conventional customer service trends. While most of the business world is salivating over highly engaged brands like Zappos and Toms, Facebook continues to force unwanted changes like Timeline down users throats. Completely side stepping bruised and battered companies like Netflix who have been brutally beaten in the court of public opinion for unwanted changes, Facebook openly and aggressively pushes our information for money. 

It's an intriguing world we live in at this time. We have become so dependent on brands such as Google and Facebook that we really don't care what they do. We just keep using. This is hardly a post to call for a fleeting "Facebook fast". I'll keep using it, and I've recently organized my entire organizational life around Google products. It's good stuff. I just wonder how long they will be able to continue in such a manner when the rest of the business world is working hard to run in the opposite direction.

We live in a business atmosphere where becoming a platform is they key to success. Becoming a platform for your customers allows you to "serve" them while gathering valuable data. It's the currency in place that companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and others live on. Right now it works, but we also live in a well documented time of unstable trends and constant change. Entire countries can be overthrown in a matter days when we use these platforms to unite for change. 

I don't think it's a matter of if things will change as much as when. When we decide that we are all tired of our data being collected and sold at a profit. When the pendulum swings back and we all decide to take ownership of our information and what happens to it. When we get tired of being told what we might like or want based on our history and decide we want more transparency. It's no that far off either. We know that what we really like is to be treated like a person, to be given a voice, to be heard and respected, be engaged and appreciated, and to be treated with respect (specifically with privacy). I think the time is coming soon when people get a bit fed up with it all and look for a change. The interesting piece will be to see who is waiting in the wings, ready to provide a "platform" or product with the same great features and convenience as Facebook or Google but with the customer engagement and service principles of a Zappos, Trader Joe's, Costco, Starbucks or the Ritz.

My prediction? Amazon. I'll tell you why in a blog post to come soon (I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat).

On The Value of Creativity

The Paradox of Influence