I had the opportunity to attend a lecture series from Prof. Siedel of University of Michigan on Negotiation. After being part of those sessions, I certainly gained further knowledge in the area of negotiation, and would strongly recommend this lecture series. The lecture series also made me think whether there is more to negotiation in the 21st century, and how to tackle negotiation deals during the current times when the other party already has extensive information about you in front of them.

To elaborate on this topic, I would like to provide three examples, and leave the readers to develop a tactical and strategic plan for negotiation:

1. Recently, there was a lawsuit against a social networking company with regard to this company potentially sharing personal data about users to prospective employers. Though the lawsuit is relatively recent, and we don't know the truth until we have all the details, but this article suggests that mega-players do have the option to feed such data to third parties without our knowledge. The playing field for common players with not much money, and resources is not leveled any more. Further, the technology utilized by these companies is progressively evolving, and might currently lack human element and contextual analysis to decision-making impacting opportunities for many talented individuals. Please note that we need evolving technologies to improve the quality of life, but technological innovations should incorporate other perspectives too.

2. Another example, being internet service providers. For example, if an ISP gets user's usage data, then it would be difficult for a common person to negotiate for prices especially, when the market that we are dealing with is oligopolistic in nature. Moreover, indirect collusion between players can result in making these markets more monopolistic. Such first-degree discrimination or personal-pricing discrimination has become a reality now. It is even more concerning that the analyses tend to be solely reliant on numbers directed in favor of one or two stakeholders (large shareholders, executives), and not on the emotional/social/economic aspect of common masses.

3. Third example being, credit card companies collecting data about spending habits. For example, let us say someone buys at a particular store on a regular basis and/or have paid rent using the credit card, and then the financial institution that processes the credit card payment has the capabilities to indirectly provide access to this data to other involved parties.

In the process, if the rental management company knows about your buying patterns, your credit score, and your extent of paying ability, then the prices would not be determined by supply/demand dynamics and the ability of an individual to negotiate price, but more on the pre-determined information available about the renter.

With asymmetric information prevalent in many markets, negotiating power for the weaker sections could be hard to come in the coming years. As presented by Thomas Piketty and many others, with unprecedented levels of wealth gap seen in US and many other parts of the world, these kinds of practices are expected to widen the gap further in the coming years. Hopefully, our leaders would bring in a change in this area through appropriate policies and actions.