THE BLOG

The 2014 Consumer: Living in a Data Wonderland

10/09/2014 12:03 BST | Updated 09/11/2014 10:59 GMT

A couple of years ago the immediate actions of a cyclist following a lengthy ride would be eat, stretch and shower. This was until Strava came along. Strava is the app which allows cyclists to record their core metrics (distance travelled, average speed, elevation gain etc.) then compare with other users. Now the post-cycle routine is upload, analyse and compare. A fellow cyclist's obsession with this app recently triggered some thought-provoking issues around the role of data in society - something it appears is largely representative of the social conditions Strava has helped create:

Don't try and hide....

.....from data - because you can't. Data is infiltrating all areas of our lives - you cannot even escape its grasp on the high paved roads of Europe where Strava segments are digitally mapped out for cyclists to race up. The driver of this fledging data maze is us - everyday consumers. All of our actions now have a data point attached to them - whether it be buying an iPad (transactional data), using Facebook (buzz and Klout) or pedalling on a bike (Strava Leaderboards). As a result, society has become more data-savvy and data-related needs are now being generated. The result? More data and the creation of a 360 degree information cycle.

A new day and a new role.....

.....for data has arrived. Data used to be an IT or mathematic-based commodity aligned with terms such as 'nerdy' and 'geeky'. Now we live in an era of data-tainment, where consumers can get emotive enjoyment from the data they generate. Whether this be happiness at how many 'likes' a recent Facebook post has gained or breaching the top 100 for miles covered on Strava in August, data now brings enjoyment to the masses, not merely yawns to the friends and family of IT workers.

Today's consumers all have.....

.....a researcher hidden within them. Apps such as Strava, Garmin Fit and My Diet Coach result in the same broad process that insight agencies across the globe utilise daily - consumption of data, reading what the data is saying and then deciding on a course of action. Just like a Strava user analyses their miles covered, sees that they have fallen on this month's leaderboard and therefore decides to increase next week's mileage, insight teams look at customer satisfaction scores, decipher where weaknesses lie and advise the relevant teams where improvements need to be made.

All of this results in.....

.....more intelligent beings operating in a more measured society. The fact we can now measure such a wide range of our actions means we are now in a better place to evaluate our own behaviour. The effects of this new widespread skill set spans across many areas - from health as we now have the ability to track our calorie consumption for example through apps such as MyFitnessPal all the way through to more efficient energy use via tools such as Meter Readings. The growth of data has also resulted in the increased need for a more visual digital existence to help us understand the data we are creating. No longer is data communicated in binary - but through visual, colourful mediums - meaning the growth in popularity of data usage has helped build a more visualised society.

In short, data has become a fundamental part of many people's lives. We cannot escape it - so it must be embraced - not out of forced consciousness but because we all now have the opportunity to make decisions and decide on our future behaviour by using data as evidence. Strava is a great example of this. Cycling - once considered one of the most pure of outdoor pursuits - is now run on data. From the data-driven machine known as Team Sky all the way down to bank workers commuting into the city. Strava exemplifies how data touches us wherever we are, it generates social status and stigma within its community and fundamentally helps its consumers become smarter. Millenials move out of the way - the Strava generation is truly here.