Our smartphones can tell a lot about ourselves. We carry those small computers with us every day, everywhere we go. And whether we like it or not, they collect data about our behaviors and habits whenever they're turned on. And this is not something that will change anytime soon — more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race! Data is growing faster than ever before, and by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. Unfortunately, at the moment, less than 0.5% of all data is ever analyzed and used. We should definitely change that!
Maybe you have already been asking yourself a question: What kind of data exactly can I collect and how can I use it properly? Luckily, our COO Mateusz Stanuszek recently answered these questions in an interview for gomobi.pl.
What kind of data can we gather from mobile devices?
We can collect all kinds of data related to the way users interact with our mobile app. We can find out whether they use it in compliance with our intentions, get to know which screens they ignore, and even monitor the time certain screens are opened. We are able to analyze chains of behavior, meaning that we can acknowledge what kinds of actions are executed from specific screens the most often. If we, for example, notice that an average loading time of a screen exceeds 10 seconds, that's a red flag for us. It means that the amount of data on a screen is too high, the wrong algorithm has been used, or the code is just faulty. Gathering and analyzing that kind of data is crucial in adjusting the application to your user's habits and preferences.
We generate much more data from mobile than from desktop. How should we use this knowledge?
Nowadays, collecting data about smartphone users is crucial. It allows companies to get to know their users better. This way, the business is able to better adapt its products and services. In addition, acquiring customers becomes cheaper and easier thanks to more precise marketing campaigns. If you have a business, you should definitely consider creating a mobile application for it.
An example of how this movement can pay off is the case of our Polish client, the Main Scientific Bookstore (Główna Księgarnia Naukowa) in Cracow, Poland. Bookshop owners noticed that the loyalty program on which they based a large part of their marketing strategy did not work as well as they wished. Customers were losing their loyalty cards, forgetting about them, or not getting one at all because they didn't want to disclose their personal data.
Having a mobile application helped by allowing them to collect data on the users' reading preferences and craft a new message based on that. Thanks to this, not only the user was happy because they were informed only about the books that would be really valuable, but also the bookstore was able to make more informed decisions based on the tastes of its customers. The application has been downloaded almost 5,000 times so far (available only for Android) and according to our conversations with GKN employees, customers praise it for its simplicity and convenience.
One of the areas you are specializing in is wearables. What kind of data can be collected from these devices?
You can collect all different types of data. It just depends on the sensors installed on the device. This may include data such as user location, heart rate, speed, or temperature.
Is there a difference between data collected from desktop and mobile devices?
Yes. The type of content viewed on them is different. Because desktop devices are usually larger, they are mainly used to view more detailed data. Portable devices are best suited to reminding them of something or allowing the remote management of some equipment. Therefore, desktop devices usually collect data that the user enters himself/herself into the device, such as forms filled out by the user. The mobile devices are mainly used for the acquisition of data collected through various sensors that are used whenever the user turns on the device.
Where else do you get data outside of mobile, desktop, and wearables?
As for now, mobile, desktop, and wearables are the only technologies by which you can collect user data. Take intelligent homes, for example — they're usually connected to a mobile application, as are beacons. There are a lot of other data-collecting devices, but most of them also connect via Bluetooth or other technologies with smart phones. It is, therefore, true to say that we generate much more data via mobile than through desktop devices because so many devices use mobile technologies to collect data. However, it is possible that something else will appear in the near future that will revolutionize the whole big data industry.
What about the regulations on data collection and use?
There are a few things that we absolutely must be careful about if we want to avoid legal and/or financial consequences. According to the law, it is considered illegal to enforce consent to the processing of personal data or to enforce consent to the transfer of personal data to other entities, not taking into account the objection concerning the processing of personal data and not providing information upon request of the data subject.
The user must always be aware that his or her data is collected and used in a specific way. Some people try to hide such consents and make the user unwillingly agree to the processing of the collected data — that is not the right thing to do. This only creates reluctance and prejudice towards the company doing it — especially since this data is often made available to entities that have nothing to do with the interests of the user.
Fortunately, thanks to the RODO regulation (which comes into force in May next year), users will, among other things, acquire a "right to be forgotten." Even by accidentally consenting to the processing of their data, if the data is used in a manner contrary to the user's wishes, the user will be able to demand the removal of their data from the database. RODO regulations will also have a significant impact on companies wishing to collect and use data about their users. There must be a discussion about how personal data is processed. Companies collecting users' data will also have to keep detailed records and take into account, among other things, the reasons for processing the data, the recipients of the data, and where they will store the data. There will also be an absolute ban on data transfers outside the EU without adequate safeguards. Failure to comply with these guidelines could result in severe financial penalties imposed on the company.
As you can see, the possibilities of data that you can collect about your users are almost endless; everything depends on the sensors you will put into your device. Use them smartly and you will get a special advantage above your competition. But remember — users being aware that their data is being collected and used is an absolute necessity here. Use the data in the right way to offer your users products truly the best suited for their needs — not to bombard them with unwanted ads. Trust me, once you go down that road, gaining back the trust of your users may be very difficult and sometimes impossible.