The smartphone is a truly wonderful device. Given an internet connection, it puts the entirety of human knowledge in your pocket; and now, it serves as a conduit for analytics. That means the ability to make better sense of business problems, with actionable insights to drive better decision-making is in your pocket.
But is mobile analytics just a window into analysis done ‘elsewhere’ (that is, in the cloud)? Well, yes, it is and you’d be correct in surmising that this isn’t exactly a new development. Presenting graphs, pie charts and squiggly lines on a small screen is in fact useful and has been done aplenty.
What is somewhat more groundbreaking is using the multiple sensors and features of smartphones to influence the type of analytics available to it.
That shifts the paradigm from ‘passive’ analytics accessed by the user, to ‘active’ analytics where the user, in any given context, might have a question occur to them in the field, and have the tools available to them to immediately find the answer. ‘I wonder how many of these chocolate bars on this shelf have sold in this store,’ wonders the rep. By whipping out his handset, he can answer that question at the store level, at the regional and national level. He can perhaps compare the sales performance in one store with that of another, determining, perhaps, that if he moved the chocolate bar two shelves along next to the drinks fridge, he might sell more.
This isn’t a purely theoretical example, either. One of our customers has a small team of territory reps who visit over a thousand retailers up and down the country. Previously, the reps would print analytics for each store, visit the owner and chat about what was on the paper.
The limitation is that only the stuff on the paper could be discussed. There is no way to perform any kind of drill down and it required reps to rigidly stick to the plan of who they saw when (plans often change on the road).
Now they have all metrics to hand – and, routinely, a rep might go in with a specific idea of what the issue is, only for the discussion to go in an entirely unanticipated direction. No problem, because mobile analytics means other relevant information can be pulled up without delay.
That’s why mobile analytics is awesome. If done right, it puts the entire power of the analytics platform at your fingertips. Combined with other smartphone features - location is an obvious one – the ability to use analytics in new, exciting ways is greatly magnified. For example – location awareness is a great one. How does my store compare against others in the immediate neighborhood?
Another example is the camera. Retail customers can use their smart phone as a barcode scanner and bring up sales data for any product on a whim (think the chocolate bar scenario).
And probably best of all, it costs very little to extend analytics to mobiles. The ‘reps’ example was done with Microsoft Power BI and cost nothing aside from a few hours of development and a couple of additional licenses. In the past, delivering that would have been a big, big deal.
So how can mobile analytics help your business? The answer to that is to think about how accurate information at the point of consumption can make a difference. The ability to show more than static reports means people can change the question they’re asking on the fly. Used properly, this gives a business the ability to be truly responsive to the changing world around them.