Three lessons in Analytics from the Apple Watch

27 October 2015

Dan Hawker

Dan Hawker

Former Head of Tobacco, Wholesale & Retail

As many of you know, I bought an Apple Watch earlier this year.

In fact, I’ve had it, I’ve lost it, and I’ve replaced it.

And in doing so, I’ve learnt (or rather, been reminded of) three things about Business Intelligence, Analytics, Data Warehousing, Reporting, Dashboards and Management Information.*

1) Security is important

When you lose something that’s so connected to the rest of your data, that 4 digit pin code is looking a little flaky, even if you don’t have Apple Pay activated.

In the world of analytics, this is where integrated enterprise solutions have an edge over flashy, but standalone, upstarts – they eliminate the need for spreadsheets to float around in vulnerable environments.

If people still want to take a copy of the data in some form, they’ll find a way of doing it, but it gives them one less excuse.

2) Simple visualisations are powerful

One of my most-used applications on the watch is the activity tracker. It tracks three things that are linked:

  • How often you stand
  • How much exercise you do
  • How many calories you burn.

It appears as a little icon of three concentric rings (or partial rings, if your daily goal is not yet achieved). I understand exactly how to influence each concentric ring.

It’s a simple, powerful motivator for me to achieve what I set out to do each day.

Contrast that with most “design by committee” dashboards that end up cluttering the enterprise.

They are awash with dials, charts, tables and traffic lights – the opposite of simple, and the opposite of powerful.

Sometimes you need to bypass the committee, and give a single, visionary individual the authority and budget to reset expectations of what analytics should be.

3) Mobile is key

People are drawn to sources of energy. You see it with people drawn to the football on the TV in a pub. You see it with people walking down the street glued to their iPhone. You feel it yourself when you see a warmly lit destination at the end of a long walk in the dark.

A mobile phone is a portable energy source that almost everybody now has, and which connects people to the things they want.

A watch adds another mobile, connected energy source, to the list of available options.

These are the environments people are going to be drawn into for large parts of their day, without even consciously choosing to do so.

So if you want your simple, powerful, secure visualization to actually influence somebody’s decisions, put it on their mobile, connected energy source – they’ll have no choice but to be influenced by it.

*There’s a prize to anybody who can precisely define the differences between all of these in a way that everybody agrees with and understands.

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