3 Ways Companies are Leveraging Your Smart Phone Against You

October 25, 2013

what smart phone analytics are being fed to businesses without your knowledge

There’s a hidden intellect growing within your smart phone.  While you are shopping, dining or even sleeping, it’s got a social life of its own.  And smart companies are learning how to take advantage of this social newbie.

We’ve all become used to thinking of our mobile devices as something that makes our lives easier and more convenient but it would be more appropriate to think of them as conduits between you and an infinite number of companies.  Here are three of the newer ways companies are leveraging your mobile device in order to get to get to know you better:

  • They know who you are.  The mobile sphere of information used to have one major drawback: companies couldn’t tell exactly which human was attached to which mobile device (the same problem exists among social networks).  An entire industry has grown to solve this problem.  Device owners typically aren’t required to provide personally identifiable information when using apps, until you want to do something in the real world—make a purchase, ship to your address, check-in at a location.  During these activities our Smartphone is revealing exactly who you are (especially if security settings are vague—the age-old concern about facebook).  If a company can determine who you are they can sell that information or market to you in a way that is more likely to prompt a purchase.
  • They weave bigger webs.  It seems as if individuals can become lost in the infinite web of information created by mobile devices, social networks, apps and website, but it is exactly the opposite.  The bigger the web, the better chance they have of finding you because you leave the DNA-like trace evidence throughout the web that marks who you are.  This isn’t only your personal information, but also the personal information of your Smartphone.  Companies now build complex data models to track devices they interact with, not just the humans, because your devices often less shy about spilling their secrets than you are.
  • They connect more dots.  More devices = more confusion, right?  Not a chance.  Pick a random product, totally unrelated to your real life and perform few searches on it through your phone.  Next, go over to your tablet or your laptop and very quickly you will see advertisements for this product appearing in facebook, email ads and random websites.  Most people don’t manage their security settings well enough to prevent their mobile devices from bragging about their mobile relatives.  When you see this you know companies have figured out who you are and you can expect them to get better and better at appealing to your interests as they create a more complete profile of who you are.

Their attempt to find and understand you is actually the underlying reason why “big data” has become such a popular topic.  Big data isn’t problematic because it is so vast; it is only problematic because the most valuable answers within all that data are specific answers within: who people are, what their preferences are, their buying habits and where they exist in the real world.  Those are answers that require massive processing power and “big data analytics” to reveal.

None of these things present a tangible problem for the average consumer; the fear over these topics is generally misplaced.  After all, companies cannot change your fundamental preferences or behaviors.  Or can they?  More on that next time…

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About The Author

David F. Giannetto helps organizations leverage information—providing both the technology and methodology necessary to create, understand and utilize it to improve performance. Widely respected as a thought-leader in the areas of business intelligence, enterprise performance management, information management and analytics, he has led some of the most complex information-driven initiatives for today’s leading brands. He is author of two books, including The Performance Power Grid (J.Wiley & Sons, 2006), one of today’s leading performance management methodologies. He is SVP of Performance Management for Salient Management Company.

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