Mobile analytics are going to play a huge role over the next 10 years, especially when it comes to actually driving innovation.
If Canada is to remain really competitive on the world technology scene, we’re going to have to get a lot better at mobile applications and technology. A part of that mix involves prudent government policy, and on that front, I’m active. The second component is to demonstrate value when it comes to these devices. The people within different organizations that are capable of demonstrating the value of mobile applications and a mobile presence will be responsible for the ultimate success of those organizations.
Some people call this movement the “Web Analytics 3.0 Movement”. I’m anticipating that the popular counter-arguement, especially from many of the database marketing people, will be that mobile technology isn’t Web Analytics 3.0 at all, but rather, the wealth of GIS data are just more dimensions in the same web analytics data mix we’ve always had.
Mobile analytics are capable of demonstrating the value, or lack of value, of the mobile channel, from the get-go. If very bright people are able to persuade senior management to drop a couple of thousands on mobile apps in a bid to ‘innovate at the fringes’, then the hard, cold numbers could demonstrate the actual effectiveness. Note that this is very much different from the evolution of the Internet eCommerce movement — when web analytics continues to lag because online spend continues to be largely unaccountable. I think that at least, initially, decision makers are going to need some hard evidence that the mobile channel is returning.
I’ll argue that the additional dimensions to the web analytics database aren’t trivial. With it comes the ability to know from which location that a user is accessing your content. Are you in the store using our website? Are you using the website instead of a salesperson to make a decision? Isn’t that something quite valuable…to tell a store manager just how many people were using a mobile device instead of talking to your staff? How would a store manager react? Regardless — at least they would react. It’s a piece of intelligence that they didn’t have before, and it would possibly spawn greater demands on those web applications. (In fact, the high propensity for people with disposable income to use advanced mobile devices is higher, so the initial ROI figures ought to be quite impressive for the leading 3 years of the mobile age in Canada, whenever that’s forthcoming).
There’s also something subtly more exciting. While in most households its common for multiple users to use the same computer (or in some circumstances, overlapping computers), it is, however, rare, for the same users to be using the same mobile phone. In this way, a ‘unique user’ is more likely to be an actual ‘unique person’, though, I admit, the connection still won’t be one to one. (It might perfectly be possible that a family of 5 shares 3 cellphones. Moreover, some people have a work cell and a personal cell…and so on.) But, at the very least, the rate of error is considerably smaller than the current web analytics world.
Mobile analytics might also spurn the growth of data driven personalization engines. For instance, if you’re shopping for books in a store, and you can’t find something, perhaps the mobile app remembers your phone number from your previous visit (a type of cookie, perhaps) and customizes an offer just for you. Such initiatives, especially if they feature a FREE! component could be very valuable.
Mobile analytics, I think, is going to drive a lot of innovation and raison d’etre, at least in risk-averse Canada, over the next 10 years.