Can the Quantified Self Be Your Competitive Advantage?

Can the Quantified Self Be Your Competitive Advantage?

By Mark Moschel

by Mark Moschel

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

We all know this quote. It reminds us of our businesses and their performance metrics – cash flow, conversion rates, customer engagement, etc. When uncertainty arises, we look at the data for clarity. For new features, we test a solution, track key measures of success and adjust as necessary. To ensure we make the best decisions, we collect and analyze data.

Like our businesses, our personal lives are full of uncertainty. What makes us happier, healthier, and more productive? What makes us perform at our highest level? The original quote still holds true – we can’t manage what we don’t measure. To optimize ourselves, we need to measure ourselves. Technology is now enabling us to collect new and relevant data. There are sensors in our phones, wristbands, watches, glasses, and even our clothing. Your diet, sleep, exercise, heart rate, gut health, DNA, alertness, and more can be tracked and analyzed. What could all this data teach us?

This is the Quantified Self. At its core, it is a community-driven effort to extract self-knowledge from personal data.

“What used to take up a building now fits in my pocket, and what now fits in my pocket will fit inside a blood cell in 25 years.”

This quote by futurist Ray Kurzweil asks us to visualize the near future. The technology is advancing. The data will be available. How will it impact our lives? How will it impact our businesses?

Turn the Quantified Self to your company’s advantage

As we browse online, we leave a trail of data. As our phones sit quietly in our pockets, they collect massive amounts of personal information. When we listen to music, take pictures, pay bills, play games, write, sleep, code, drive and fly, data is created.

Each of these data points originated from a person, and they all say something specific about that individual. Together, they craft a surprisingly detailed portrayal of their life. Companies are helping create this data, and they are now starting to find ways to enhance their products and services by applying it.

Nike is using sensors in its shoes to capture new performance metrics. Apple is integrating sensors into earbuds to track heart rate. Google glass is enabling people to document their lives from a new perspective. How could your product offering empower customers with new and relevant datasets?

As tracking technology continues to weave more seamlessly into our lives, businesses that utilize the streams of data being produced will be at a competitive advantage. Some industries – like advertising, healthcare and insurance – are already personalizing their products to great success.

4 ways your business can get involved

  1. Gain new customers by providing individuals with new and interesting data about themselves, and ensure they have full ownership and control. Example: 750words is a journal that automatically analyzes the text in your daily entry for moods and feelings. It also has top-notch privacy settings. 
  2. Increase customer retention by creating and using personal data in ways that empower customers to manage their own health and wellbeing. Example: The emWave2 is a heart rate variability tracker that both measures this data and helps users train their physiological response to stress to improve their HRV measurements. 
  3. Improve user experiences by integrating relevant data into your products and services. Example: Retrofit improves their customer experience by integrating Withings weight data and Fitbit activity data into their weight-loss solution process.
  4. Boost referrals by helping customers track their experience with your product (and then encourage them to share it). Example: does this well with music by providing interesting statistics and recommendations regarding the music you’ve listened to, and then making it easy to share that to your social networks.

4 ways to start quantifying yourself

  1. Improve your diet by better understanding what you eat and how it affects your body. Example: Take a picture of everything you eat or use MyFitnessPal.
  2. Mitigate the risks of a sedentary lifestyle by tracking your movement (or lack thereof) throughout the day. Example: Use the Jawbone UP or Fitbit to track your steps and remind you to move each hour.
  3. Boost productivity by tracking how much time you spend on different activities. Example: Download RescueTime to quantify your computer usage.
  4. Enhance your cognitive abilities by recording your daily test results and pushing to improve your score each day. Example: Use Lumosity or Quantified-Mind to show trends over time.

What could the Quantified Self mean for you?

As innovation leaders, you have an opportunity to implement these practices both in your personal lives and within your business solutions. Are you already tracking something for your own health or performance? What are you measuring and what have you learned? Has your company considered relevant uses of personal data to improve your customer’s experiences? What are some ways you think personal data can enhance your business offering? What use cases have you seen?

Image © Sonntags Blick


Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.