How enterprises can tap into mobile data to deliver value
Mobile World Congress is the launch platform for many of the year’s big smartphones, and I’m looking forward to seeing what innovative smartphones — as well as tablets, smart watches and other connected devices — will be unveiled at this year’s event. However, the significant innovation in the mobile world now goes far beyond the device. In fact, the greatest potential for innovation and the greatest opportunities lie in the connections between devices, users and enterprises. Essentially, it’s all about the mobile data.
According to Cisco, global mobile data traffic grew 63 percent last year, reaching over 7 billion gigabytes per month. That’s a measure of the volume of bandwidth mobile users consume, but see it as a proxy for their activity and all the data points the activity generates. Amicably, 7 billion GB equals a lot of taps, clicks and swipes, and it’s going to continue to grow. The IDC suggests actionable data will grow by 9.6 times by 2025, as reported by Forbes.
Mobile data is even richer than data generated by desktop users. According to a 2014 Economist article, PubMatic, a firm that helps publishers sell advertising space in real time, was able to provide some 50 to 70 data points about users on desktops and around 100 on mobile, including the mobile device’s precise position, When you know not just who your users are and what they are doing, but also where they are, you have an incredibly powerful data set at your disposal.
From analytics to action
There’s plenty of data that’s not meaningful, which is why the “actionable” distinction from the IDC report is vital. The actual volume of data is growing at a slower rate, but leading organizations are getting smarter about ingesting that data to mine valuable insights.
Successful enterprises don’t just pull mobile data, analyze it and feed it into their next strategy session. It’s a loop that includes the user in real time, or as near-real time as possible. That’s where those additional data points — the “where,” as well as the “who and “what” — come into play. For example, when you know a passenger is at the airport and know which flight she is planning to take, you can tell her about the weather at her destination or alert her to pending delays, connecting flight information or upgrade availability.
As IT strategists, we don’t want to drown in data, nor do we want our customers or employees to. The Pew Research Center found that one-third of smartphone users have turned off location tracking due to concerns about how their mobile data was being used. There are several reasons why customers prefer this privacy, and a careful mobile strategy will not add “too many alerts” to that list of reasons. In fact, many users need a compelling reason to entice them to keep it on. So, enterprises need to think carefully about the most valuable information to provide given the context. This could be as simple as automating a transaction to reflect a customer’s location — removing a click or two from the actions they need to take. Or, it could be as sophisticated as generating truly targeted, customized information about an activity the user is about to undertake.
Due to the enormous opportunity and the complexity involved in maximizing that opportunity, the next evolution of mobile will be focused around data. Consider how you can use that mobile data to deliver value to the enterprise and, more immediately, to the customer.