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How mobile analytics can work

By Jonathan Stark

I do not know how many Craftsman hammers are sold every year, but I would guess the number is at least in the hundreds of thousands.

Given that hammers tend to last a long time, it is probably safe to say that millions of folks have a Craftsman hammer stashed somewhere in their basement, garage or workshop.

What does Craftsman know about these millions of hammers it has sold? Next to nothing, I will bet.

Hammering it in
Perhaps Craftsman knows how many hammers have been sold, and from what store. Maybe it has captured information about some of the consumers based on loyalty, rebate or warranty interactions. But, when you really think about it, that is not much data to go on.

What if Craftsman hammers got ?smart?? What if they could communicate with Craftsman?s Web site to report usage information or environmental data?

For example, imagine that my hammer ? my personal hammer, not some generic one ? could send the following messages to Craftsman:

? ?Jon holds me too far up my handle. Please email an instructional video to him.?
? ?Jon has been using me a lot more than usual. We might want to send him a coupon for framing nails and other building supplies.?
? ?The moisture level in Jon?s garage is too high. Please send an SMS to his phone to let him know I?m going to rust prematurely if he doesn?t do something about it.?
? ?I?m not in my normal location and I haven?t been used in a long time. I think I?m lost. Please contact Jon to let him know where I am.?

Of course, SmartHammers? are a long way off. But if such technology existed, do you think Craftsman could capitalize on the data? You betcha.

Craftsman could segment their customers based on usage patterns, skill level and physical strength to push highly relevant and targeted messaging.

The company could look for patterns in environmental data ? physical location and altitude, motion, temperature, humidity, lighting conditions and sound levels ? to inform future product design such as ?Wow! 32 percent of our hammers in Florida are stored on boats year round. Maybe we should make one that floats?? And, of course, it would be building incredible brand loyalty with its consumers.

Here is the key point:

Craftsman would be insane if it did not aggressively capture and analyze analytics from its hammers.
Hammers might not be crawling with sophisticated sensors and radio transmission technology just yet, but your customers do have a tool in their pocket that is ? their smartphone.

The question is, ?How can you take advantage of the mobile analytics available on these devices to reach your business goals and delight your customers??

Buying it?
There are as many possible answers to this question as there are businesses. I will give you one scenario that focuses on retail:

Let us say you run ?BuyMore? ? a big box home improvement retailer with 2000-plus locations in North America. You come in on a Monday morning to find the following ?Hot Prospect? automated alert in your email inbox:

On Sunday, Erica Smith visited three BuyMore locations in the Boston area and lingered in the appliance department for more than 15 minutes at each store.

Greg Lane, a BuyMore associate, approached Erica in the third store. Erica asked Greg if it would be possible to get a refrigerator delivered to her house by Tuesday. Greg said yes. Erica continued browsing and left without buying anything from any of the stores.

Ninety minutes later, Erica searched from her home computer for ?stainless steel refrigerators over $2000 with an icemaker.? She compared two particular models for 7 minutes but left the site without buying anything.

Based on this data, it is obvious to you that Erica has two grand burning a hole in her pocket and she wants to spend it on a stainless steel fridge with an icemaker.

You quickly search your competitor?s site and discover that their prices are 10 percent lower for the same two refrigerators, but it does not guarantee next-day delivery, and also charges for extended warranty.

Feeling you will lose the sale if you do not act quickly, you push a notification alert to Erica?s phone offering her 10 percent off either refrigerator, a free extended warranty and guaranteed next-day delivery.

All she has to do is tap the ?Buy Now? button on your instant notification and she will have a shiny new refrigerator in her kitchen by tomorrow at noon.

Unlike my hammer example, this BuyMore scenario is possible with technology that is widely available today. This particular case would require a customer-facing application, an app for store associates, and backend systems to collect, merge, and report on the data.

But make no mistake, the star of this show is the analytics gathered by the customer- facing app.
Without analytics, the mobile app would just be a dumb catalog of products that tells you nothing about your customer, other than whether or not she bought something.

ADMITTEDLY, IT TAKES a lot of effort to build and integrate a system sophisticated enough to crunch this kind of analytics data. But consider the power you will wield with access to the intimate details of customer behavior.

Even if it took you a full year, and cost a couple million dollars to integrate mobile analytics into your systems, you would be insane not to do it.

OK, so maybe analytics themselves are not sexy. You know what is sexy? Success.

Analytics are critical to the success of your mobile apps and, ultimately, your ability to meet and exceed your business goals.

Oh, sorry, got to run. My hammer just texted me.

Jonathan Stark is vice president of application architecture at Mobiquity Inc., Wellesley, MA. Reach him at .