MINT initiative was set up to ‘liberate customer data’ from company systems and organisational silos. We assist organisations that directly interact with customers or users, and retain data about transactions, to make purchase history data available to download at no charge, in open formats and fit for further use. The targeted organisations include, but are not limited to, retailers, utililties, telecommunications, public sector etc.
MINT recommends the following formats for customer’s purchase history data export: CSV, XML or JSON, Atom. We advise and provide technical implementation to those organisations that require it. Where there is human readable data, it ought to be machine readable for futher analysis and added value. Where there is machine readable data, it ought to be human readable for comprehension and accessibility.
MINT stands for ‘My Information, Not Theirs‘ and is a market RIOT initiative, a movement to redress the balance of market power between vendors and customers, institutions and individuals, web services/platforms and users. MINT is based in the UK but will work with organisations located anywhere, whenever practically possible.
For more information contact Adriana Lukas: adriana dot lukas at gmail dot com
- to create an ecosystem where customer data belongs to the customer, is freely available to individual customer or user, in open formats
- to help the individual to become the point of integration for his or her transactional data
- to encourage development of applications that enable individuals to enjoy the value they can add by managing and analysing their own data (buying behaviour, purchasing patterns and preferences) and potentially benefit vendors, when such information is voluntarily shared by customers.
- individuals benefit directly from their data, which serves as reference for future decisions or as input for further analysis and data-mining
- demand for applications with analytical functionality, which is noticeably lacking on the web
- reducing the power of 3rd party platforms that own user data
- attention of customers who care about and analyse their purchase history
- repeat business, ongoing relationship – informed customer is a better customer
- the web is often a customer-driven world and has made customers troublesome for companies used to ignoring them. Giving data back to customers may be a good way forward.
- aligned incentives – inaccurate data relating to people tends to inconvenience people more than the companies holding it
- unlocked value by customers making sense of the data according to their preferences
- new type of data input for user applications (purchase history, buying behaviour)
- new web services enabling users management and understanding of their data. (a la wesabe, dopplr, sugarstats etc).
Closed platforms & Intermediaries
- services, third parties who collect customer data will be ‘encouraged’ to make user data freely available to their users.
MINT is a non-profit organisation which also provides paid-for services as and when required:
- advice about how to make customer data available for download (formats etc)
- diagnostics of CRM systems and/or web front (customer portal, e-commerce etc)
- implementation e.g. configuring CRM system or e-commerce suites
The default scenario is for organisations to configure data themselves and for MINT to step in only when assistance is needed. MINT does aim to make its ‘data liberation package’ the sensible and easy option, using the proceeds to reach more organisations. Privacy – data be made available only to the individual whose data it is, never to 3rd parties Security – no different than current ability of vendors to display purchase history or email confirmation of purchase
- Set up and maintain an open network of ‘data geeks’ with technical expertise to configure CRM systems, databases or e-commerce suites to make purchase history downloadable to individual customers. These would be available to join an implementation team, as and when an organisation needs assistance and contracts MINT services.
- Settle on recommended formats, human and machine readable, to be use for customer data export and maintain repository of ‘guidelines’ or specifications used for MINT initiated exports, e.g. CSV documentation, data schemas etc. These are essential as reference for any future application development using the data as input. MINT does NOT intend to create a new standard for any of the data formats.
- Provide tools for data format conversions and export, ongoing research of data interoperability and portability
- Encourage open source development of applications
As long as all the information in point 2 exists, is maintained and freely available, developers can use it for development of applications that help customers and users to mine and analyse their own data. In the future, this may be the main function of MINT once making data available to individual users or customers becomes the norm.
Competition would be a sign of MINT’s success, as it would mean more people are able to own their transactional data. To our knowledge, there are a handful of web services and vendors that already allow their users to download such data – e.g. Wesabe, chi.mp, Sugarstats, Lloyds Bank, MBNA (and other UK and US banks), Dopplr (upon deletion of account) and we are constantly looking for more examples. MINT intends the individual to be the point of integration for his or her data regardless of where they originate, so the more organisations make such data available – and the more others help them, the better. Given the lack of format interoperability (need for documentation etc), MINT will have to act as a repository of such documentation. Competition in this area, i.e. intiatives encouraging organisations to export data in entirely different set of data formats or using different meta-data/guidelines etc, would make it harder, though not impossible, for developers to build applications around it. But ultimately, the more, the merrier.