The New Analytics: Do Android Devices Dream of Electric Sheep?

Brad Shimmin
Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • We are already living in the midst of some very smart mobile devices which are capable of capturing the physical, situational, operational and even emotional facets of the human machine.
  • So, why not donate this ‘big data’ to better serve ourselves and the greater good?

Being a hopeful believer in synchronicity (or at least a believer in the potential of coincidence), my ears perked up late last week when the third vendor in as many weeks mentioned the coming ‘Internet of Things’ during three seemingly unrelated discussions around analytics, collaboration and business apps.  Obviously, the idea of smart, interconnected devices has reached some sort of significant meme threshold for major firms IBM, SAP and VMware, helped no doubt by some excellent marketing from Cisco.

What truly struck me as important about this unexpected conjunction was the common thread running throughout – not so much data center operational intelligence, as you might expect, but instead mobility.  That got me thinking.  We are already living in the midst of some very smart mobile devices.  Using existing technology (goefencing), my mobile phone can easily remind me, for instance, to pick up some eggs precisely at the most opportune moment (that is, when I drive past our local market).  And that is downright basic compared with the opportunities waiting to be teased out of the coming crop of mobile sensors, which will be able to detect and track changes in linear acceleration, gravity, magnetic field, eye position, even stress level.  That’s right: stress level.

Consider for a moment the Indiegogo Scanadu Scout crowdsourcing project, an actual, working Star Trek tricorder capable of assessing emotional stress levels based upon EKG, blood pressure, temperature and other metrics.  Clearly, a mobile device can know a great deal about us, not just our location, but also our current medical and emotional state.  So, as we move through our workday with this myriad of sensors tucked neatly into our jacket pocket, what sort of data will we collect, aggregate and share?  How will that data be used by us and the companies for which we work?  And, most interestingly (at least to me), how might our mobile devices work together in aggregate?

It is not too hard really to imagine some highly beneficial ‘big data’ use cases based upon anonymously donated mobile sensor information.  For example, what if a department store could visualize the emotional state of shoppers by store location, time of day, Muzak selection and more.  And without anonymization, what if a hospital could locate and prioritize at-risk emergency room patients based upon their current state of mind and health vitals?  What if a company could assess the ongoing effectiveness of a given team, say contact center employees, establishing the most optimal set of working conditions?

Obviously, there are many slippery slopes concerning privacy we must safely traverse before our smart devices can speak for us within the realm of big data.  If the past is any indicator, however, we as a species are at least open to the idea of donating our data points to serve ourselves and the greater good.  Where better but on a mobile device can we combine the physical, situational, operational and even emotional facets of the human machine?

What do you think?

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