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Article Blog - Suresh May 12, 2014 3 minute read

Data in Everyday Devices: An Indication of What Lies Ahead

By Suresh Katta, Founder and CEO, Saama Technologies

In a recent trip to Lake Tahoe I was once again struck by how pervasive data collection has become.  While this year has not been the best in terms of snow pack, there was enough snow for skiing.  Upon arrival my son presented me with something new to try: ski goggles equipped with GPS that enabled data collection and information display.

This technology could show:

  • My speed throughout the run, including my top speed,
  • The distance I traveled,
  • The vertical slope of a run,
  • What the altitude was,
  • How long it took me to reach the end of the run,
  • A comparison between runs from one time to the next, and
  • How many feet away my family was in relation to me.

I found the ability to capture this data and flash it on the tiny heads-up display enhanced the day’s skiing adventure and my overall experience.  I learned the top speed I skied that day.  I learned how fast the lift was at different points throughout the day (and could avoid the slowest times) and if I was improving on a run or needed to try harder. My skiing companions and I had fun sharing stats with each other.

The real-time data capture and display via the goggles, while not complex when compared to advanced business data collection, management and analysis, is an example of how data analytics is making its way into everyday objects.  Another increasingly common occurrence of data collection is by ski resorts through hands-free, gate access systems to lifts.  These cards are issued once and the guest can repeatedly reload days as needed. While guests benefit from faster access to slopes by these modern lift tickets, the resorts learn valuable information about the users skiing habits such as:

  • Which lifts are accessed,
  • The number of times someone does a run, and
  • How often the guest returns to the resort.

While personally identifiable information is not shared based on these cards, the resort is able to make more enticing offers to guests based on the information that is known about them.  As a result, the resort can more easily target marketing campaigns to individual guests.

Data gathering is happening all around us and has never been more effortless than today.  Data collection is not new, however, a clear indication of how the data industry is moving forward is the degree to which we have become savvy in capturing a data element and making it more meaningful through advanced analytics.  This trend means that data gathering will increasingly pop up into our everyday devices and tools, which in turn will cause us to re-think the whole data collection process.

This is a fundamental shift in thinking from business intelligence days gone by.  Rather than looking to the data we already have and analyzing it, we will approach it from the perspective of where we want the data to take us and what value we hope to gain.  From there we will work our way back towards what data we need to collect and then determine the best means through which the data can come to us.


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