Mobile Analytics And Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

It is now de-rigueur to gather analytical data on exactly how customers behave in every situation.  Compiling all of this analytical information into big data can help you improve your current product offerings and anticipate future growth for your company.  Mobile data usage has exploded at the same time as the growth in big data, so it is just natural that enterprises are gathering as much data as possible about how their customers are using mobile.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that as you observe the world, you also disturb the world, which can affect your observations.  So what on earth do mobile analytics have to do with Heisenberg?

Did you realize that excessive analytic capture can HURT your business?

Recently, I was approached by a popular game provider. They were having trouble figuring out why their apps were running slowly, and their analytics were showing that this latency was causing customers to stop playing.  We did an investigation, and discovered that the application was logging every touch to the screen.  This required a network connection to be established, and data transferred to the analytics server before the game could continue.  In other words, the observations/analytics were affecting the world/gameplay too much, and was actually HURTING the developer because users were getting annoyed and stopping their play. Heisenberg in action.

In this case, the developer re-vamped their observations. They still gather all the data, but It is not reported to the servers individually.  By creating an analytics queue that is reported to the server every x minutes, the developer VASTLY reduced the latency in the application. As a result, their users kept playing longer and returned to the game more often.

In conclusion, analytics provide you with great power.  But as Uncle Ben told a young Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsibility.” You must make sure that your usage of analytics does not actually hurt your applications and your customers.

Have you experienced applications where excessive data capture has discouraged you from using them? Is it possible that analytics are holding the success of your business applications back?
Doug Sillars Principal Technical Architect AT&T About Doug