Mobile data analytics: not just for consumers any more

by Christopher Isaac, Adam Vandermyde, Soo-Kiat Loo, and Pranav Parekh

There’s no denying that mobile phones aren’t just phones anymore. In a survey conducted by IDC[1], the respondents indicated that while on their mobiles they spend a mere 16% of their time on phone calls and the other 84% on activities like browsing the web, communicating by email, using social apps, watching videos or TV, gaming, etc. That breakdown of use corresponds to the explosion of mobile data traffic globally in recent years.

Consider this: one exabyte (or one billion gigabytes) of data traffic flowed through the global Internet in 2000. In 2013, mobile networks carried nearly 18 exabytes of traffic, 18 times the size of the entire Internet in 2000. By 2018, mobile data traffic is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 61%, to 190 exabytes.[2]

As smartphones become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, it comes as no surprise that an IDC survey claims that 79% of us keep our smartphones within arm’s reach for all but two hours of our waking day. In fact, one in four of us will have our phones within reach at all times.[3] Whether on a weekend or a weekday, the amount of time away from our phones doesn’t change.[4]

Indeed, the use of the smartphone at work is becoming more commonplace and is no longer the exclusive domain of remote or traveling business executives. In a Forrester Research report from Q4 2012, 64% of the respondents indicated that they use their smartphone at their work desk.[5] And in a study that Forbes Insights and Google conducted in 2013, more than half of the business executives surveyed indicated they believe that the mobile device will become their primary business platform in three years.[6]

What all this means is that the use of smartphones at work and at play has become indistinguishable: we check work-related emails on our phones during non-working hours. And as much as we may not admit it, we check our personal social networking sites during office hours or browse the Internet on our smartphones periodically throughout the day.

Enterprise mobile insights and the digital avatar

The growing volume of mobile data and the ubiquitous use of mobile phones have been harnessed by marketers to find innovative ways to reach customers. Through targeted mobile advertising, companies are attempting to create interest in their products at the precise moment when consumers would most want them.

Such commercial use of consumer mobile data is advancing. But we believe there’s another potentially greater - but still nascent - opportunity for companies to tap into a powerful application of this big data. The opportunity: to hire, engage and develop a highly skilled, competitive workforce.

Already companies are analysing data to help them both target and personalise their marketing and create relevance to mobile consumers. They can study the same data to understand more profound behaviour, such as mobile-usage patterns common among high-performing employees, what incentives best motivate them, what qualities and skills to look for when hiring, and, perhaps, what triggers certain behaviours.

We’ve already established that the use of mobile phones has blurred the line between work and play. The mobile phone has become an extension of the user’s individuality - representing him or her to the world at large as a ‘digital avatar’. An individual user may have more than one persona, depending on the context and situation (such as a work persona versus an at-home persona). The mobile phone is the common thread that ties those personae together. By studying mobile data, companies can find greater insights into how people live, work, and play.

To be clear, we’re not referring to ‘single-purpose’ applications of mobile data to enhance operational efficiency, such as using GPS data from mobile-scanning devices to optimise dispatch and delivery routing in logistics and transportation companies.

What we are addressing is the holistic use of mobile phone data by enterprises to gain insights into employee’ behaviour, and to design strategies that both empower employees and let employees feel more engaged with the organisation. Much like how marketers use mobile data to gain insights into consumers’ behaviour and design advertising campaigns to target their customers better, enterprises can use the same mobile data to improve human capital.

In today’s hypercompetitive war for talent, where 70% of US business leaders are concerned about the availability of critical skills[7], retaining employees is a top priority. It’s critical to build a connected experience for employees that inspires them to feel committed to the company’s business performance over the long term.[8] We believe that the innovative use of employees’ mobile data, coupled with sophisticated data analytics using data from other enterprise systems, can help foster the degree of employee engagement a company hopes to achieve.

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Mobile data analytics: not just for consumers any more

Yes, the commercial use of consumer mobile data is advancing, but we believe there’s another powerful application of big data for companies to tap into: hiring, engaging, and enabling a highly-skilled, competitive work force.

[1] Always Connected How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged, IDC Research, 2013.

[2] Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013–2018, Feb. 5, 2014.
[3] Always Connected How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged, IDC Research, 2013.
[4] Ibid.
5] https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/Forrester_2013_Mobile_Workforce_Adoption_Trends_Feb2013.pdf.
[6] Forbes Insights, The Connected Executive: Mobilizing the Path to Purchase, 2013.
[7] 2014 US CEP Survey, PwC, Jan 2014.
[8] The Connected Employee Experience, PwC, Feb 2014.

This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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