5 Ways Digital Data Makes Our Lives Easier
By Amanda Dominguez, Center for Social Commerce Ambassador
Many of you may tune out as soon as you hear the word “data,” maybe even picturing endless spreadsheets of numbers. But today, digital data in particular is being analyzed in an ever-widening range of ways to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. This can include information on our activities, purchases, browsing habits, and more. Because of this, the way companies analyze digital data is playing a large role in helping to simplify and optimize the activities we do every day. Let’s take a look at five ways that digital data is making our lives easier:
Many of us have come to rely on the homepage categories such as “suggested for you” or “trending now” to determine what to spend our precious free time watching. Imagine trying to sift through over 50,000 pieces of content to find a show or movie that piques your interest. Luckily, Netflix and Hulu both use their customers’ digital data to:
- Analyze what content is trending or increasingly popular at the time.
- Utilize the ratings you provide on just-watched content to personalize your “what to watch next” options.
- Suggest shows and movies based on prior viewing habits, also known as the “Top Picks” list, by tagging content with the elements and themes it contains and tracking the tags in the content you frequently watch.
Whether you’re swiping your card at Starbucks or ordering a last-minute gift online, chances are you’re following a pretty regular spending pattern.
Most major credit card companies analyze our typical spending behavior and geographic locations to help prevent fraud, which means we don’t have to constantly check our statements for discrepancies.
American Express recommends products and services to its customers based on past behavior, like similar restaurants in areas they frequent. The Amex Offers feature even uses geographic information about a customer’s location to push them relevant offers in real time.
Capital One analyzes customer feedback to determine what services to come up with next, like the creation of their Mobile Deals app which sends coupons and offers based on prior spending. It also enables predictive capabilities for their customer service representatives in the call center, which allows the topic of a customer’s call to be determined within 100 milliseconds with 70 percent accuracy. This ensures representatives get right to the solution for whatever issue a customer is experiencing.
When you think Amazon, you think efficiency. But what is Amazon doing differently and better than other companies? Collecting and analyzing our digital data.
Amazon not only collects information such as your address and payment information, but everything you’ve ever considered or purchased. It was among the first companies to implement a system known as “item-to-item collaborative filtering,” a method which uses data to customize returning customers’ shopping experience. This provides shoppers with a better experience due to a type of “virtual customer service.”
Amazon also ensures that customer representatives have all the information they need the moment a customer needs support, and issues can often be resolved without interacting with a human at all.
While this one may be the most obvious, it’s often overlooked. Searching the web has never been easier, thanks to Google and its use of digital data.
When a user enters a query, Google returns matching pages that are most relevant to the user. Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is PageRank or the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.
Google also works hard to identify spam links and other factors that negatively impact search results. This means when you search for a popular company, you’ll be directed to its actual website first, and won’t find yourself sifting through hundreds of pages to get there. It also keeps its search results current through processes known as crawling and indexing, which help identify new webpages and log keywords on each page.
Ridesharing has made getting around more convenient, affordable, and enjoyable. Uber’s existence alone is based on the data principle of crowdsourcing: connecting drivers to people who need rides. For instance, UberPool was developed based on the discovery that the “vast majority of [Uber trips in New York] have a look-a-like trip – a trip that starts near, ends near, and is happening around the same time as another trip.”
Uber analyzes digital data from every ride a user takes in order to determine demand, necessary resources, and fare prices. It also analyzes public transport systems so the company can focus on providing coverage in “dead zones” where options are limited.
While some people may balk at the notion that large companies are collecting information about us with every click, this digital collection of data allows us to have efficient and customized experiences when using these services. More fully understanding how data is applied may help us all gain new appreciation for the ways in which it impacts our lives every day.