Data Considerations for Connectivity
Three decades ago, when viewers watched Knight Rider covertly fight crime in an AI-driven, sentient sports car, artificially intelligent vehicles were a work of fiction, but the future is finally here. Consumers aren’t just driving with the help of interactive dashboard navigation; they’re also working, shopping, and living in a connected world thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity that’s stronger, faster, and more reliable than ever before. From house lights programmed to dim at a specific time of day to a wearable personal assistant in watch form, technology expansion and improved software integration have improved our lives with convenience and efficiency in our day-to-day world.
We’re more connected than ever. Connectivity creates opportunities for companies to improve operations, encourage a good customer experience, and boost revenue. However, with exponential growth in available data, businesses must consider privacy, security, and transparency to their bottom line.
Benefits of Connected Data
The majority of data businesses collect is harmless and even necessary for a good user experience. Consumer-provided data, also known as first-party data, enhances app personalization that many consumers appreciate, creating a more useful digital product or application. Tech giants like Apple and Google collect data to connect services—maps, mail, searches, and app integration—seamlessly, which is much more efficient than asking users to submit their data anew for each program.
While laws protect highly sensitive or confidential user data, other information—including search history, location, usage, and browsing history—is passed to businesses and advertisers. Companies use this data to personalize their experience across the IoT and serve up highly relevant ads. Third-party data is why you see ads for the exact product you researched. It helps cut through the clutter and gives consumers the information they need.
Consumers can enjoy unique possibilities as data collection grows, and software and apps use it in more sophisticated ways. Using browsing data, app companies can anticipate needs based on time of day, location, or date (imagine an app that tells you where to eat based on your past restaurant experience—an end to the “where do you want to eat” conversation). It can help small businesses reach more of their target market to thrive. Data collection and analysis can even keep us safer by predicting criminal activity through early warning systems.
The future is developing quickly. Here’s what consumers and business leaders need to know about data privacy and security in today’s connected world.
For two decades, data privacy was an afterthought for many companies. Data harvesting gave unprecedented access to customer insights and market analysis, and many built their business through third-party data. Consumers primarily offered their information without considering how companies would use it, while companies considered data a trade secret and operated outside government oversight.
Today, consumers are more protective of their data and have become increasingly distrustful of sharing their private information. Data collection practices needed to change, and we’ve witnessed a shift toward more transparency and more choices for consumers in the last few years.
Your User and Their Privacy
Data privacy, at its core, revolves around transparency. Consumers need to know how you collect and store their data and why, when, and what data you collect. Typically outlined in a privacy statement on a company website, privacy policies create trust between a company and the consumers they serve.
Data collection is a balancing act. Consumers have noted that companies who ask for too much information, create complex or confusing privacy policies, and use inaccurate information about themselves used in marketing topped the list of what leads to distrust.
Companies should be acutely aware of how they ask for information from consumers and empower the users by giving them back control over what they share. Relying on first-party data and collecting and storing it ethically shows respect for your consumers. When consumers know a company has their best interests in mind, they are more likely to continue building trust with the company for years to come.
Current in Big Tech
One of the most powerful shifts in consumer privacy came in an iOS upgrade for Apple products aimed to protect users’ data. The iOS15 upgrade included the option to mask IP addresses and block third parties from tracking email opens, an iCloud-based subscription that prevents sites from tracking Safari users, and an email address “cloaking” feature that provides a fake email address.
Google upped the ante by announcing they would phase out third-party cookies by 2022 and were not planning to build alternative options to track users as they browse on Google products. After some backlash from the online advertising industry, Google created a Privacy Sandbox initiative to create website standards that access first-party data while still protecting users.
The switch to a first-party data-driven world has considerable implications for development and marketing alike. Developers will have to get more creative with asking customers for their data—email forms, surveys, location data, and browsing behavior. Marketers will, in turn, use this data to identify consumer insights, which means they’ll have to be more in tune with their customers’ needs and continuously iterate to discover what works. Advertising may be more challenging as marketers won’t have a chance to rely on platforms like Facebook or Google to find their ideal customers.
Consumers expect companies to use their data responsibly and protect it from bad agents—scammers and cybercriminals who collect and expose data for profit. Data breaches increased 68% in 2021 from the previous year—the highest total ever. Despite the attention to data protection, more than 294 million people were affected by these cyberattacks, which focused on smaller, targeted attacks on smaller businesses.
Data privacy and data security go hand in hand. As companies work on compiling first-party data and building trust with their customers, cybercriminals will more heavily target individual companies protecting this data. Our ever-present connectivity, including smart cars, smart homes, smart devices, and the overall IoT, brings another dimension to data privacy because there are more access points for cybercriminals to steal personal data.
Now is the time for development and cybersecurity professionals to double down on protecting this data. As your company builds software and digital products, ensure they are secure by design. Develop fool-proof security measures to prevent theft, detect theft early, and respond to security threats. Create code review policies, audit trails, and vulnerability scans to find security gaps.
Consumers are accustomed to the ease and personalization of their apps and software integrations, and companies rely on the information these consumers provide to make informed decisions that benefit their customers. The connectivity ecosystem is a delicate balance between too much and not enough, but the future of data is in good hands.
InspiringApps & BrainTrust
This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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To attract customers to your digital product or platform, you’ll need to provide an experience that stands out. At a minimum, customers have baseline expectations and experiences you need to keep up with—but they’re looking for more than that. Technologies that provide personalized data experiences and real-life value will be the ones to delight companies and users alike. Owning your customer’s digital experience means understanding your user’s journey from beginning to end. By anticipating every touchpoint your user experiences, you can craft solutions that meet their needs at the right moment. Ultimately, digital products that do so will find loyal customers that keep on coming back. Here are some considerations you may stay aware of along the user’s journey as you create your customer’s digital experience. Seamless, Frictionless UX and UI Users expect a smooth and seamless digital experience from start to finish. That means everything from anticipating and displaying the content they need to automatically unlocking the door they’re walking up to—all without a glitch. One of the quickest ways to get your customers to thank you is by providing them with a seamless payment experience. Digital and contactless payment tools like Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, and Google Pay are easy options that users rate highly. These tools enable a connected user experience for quick payment within your app. Making it easy to pay is a win-win for everyone from a user experience and user interface perspective. Users are hungry for one-stop shopping enabled by the digital marketplace, and frictionless payments connect to your users’ digital wallets. An ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT) opens up even more opportunities to influence your customer through a seamless experience. For example, consider how an app like Turo changes its customer’s experience of arriving at the airport in a new city. Turo’s customers can skip the rental counter and walk right out to their weekend ride with a digital key, eliminating hassle on their weekend getaway. Time saved delivers real-life value to your user, and many will repeat the experience if it goes smoothly the first time. Data/System Integrations Better insights drive better business decisions. App and system integrations enable interoperability to help guide business operations and provide the right solutions needed in today’s market. Integrations can be a lot more exciting than you’d imagine at first glance. Here are two significant ways to use data integrations to help your customers: Bring people and data together, so your customers feel connected to what matters most. Then, you can serve up their favorite products and content on the platforms where they already work and play. Customize your customers’ experience to their set preferences to experience more comfort and continuity in their daily lives. For example, you can hide technical complexity and offer a seamless experience. Using this combination of approaches, you can deliver a level of personalization to your customers that feels authentic and unique to them. Imagine getting home and having the heat turned to the right setting, the lights dimmed to your preference, and your favorite playlist queued. This hyperconnected experience is only possible when devices and systems share data and “talk” behind the scenes—and the result is significant to the user. Provide Tools To Solve the Problem Owning your customer’s experience involves using experience-driven thought to anticipate your user's needs and behaviors at every step of their customer journey. Innovative companies are taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies to anticipate the needs of their users and provide the data, insights, and tools they need to solve the problems they encounter. This approach benefits both sides, as customers are able to more quickly get to their solution, and companies reduce their customer service costs. Examples include interactive chatbots and virtual assistants. AI can answer a question, point you to resources, schedule a meeting, and do much more in these instances. Data itself is a crucial tool we provide users in many of the apps we create. For example, we’ve created products that allow users tools and insight into their home mortgages, enabling them to make the data-driven decisions that are best for them. By informing users of their current interest rate and when market interest rates are down, we provide timely refinancing suggestions and the tools to get it done within the product. We also developed a marketing platform that enables prominent technology vendors to arm their channel partners with tools to manage marketing campaigns with automated personalized content and analytics. Ultimately, we help consumers save money while increasing their brand loyalty and the likelihood they’ll become trusting, repeat customers. Set the Stage for Loyalty and Repeat Business Personalized experiences set the stage for loyalty and repeat business. The end of the user journey should feed into the next one—creating a cycle for brand loyalty from buyers who trust and want to reengage with your products continuously. Consider the stage set by Withings. Consumers have multiple entry points to buy across several connected healthcare products—all leading them to download the Withings app. When users buy their first Withings product, they gain experience with the app and develop trust in the brand. Their experience is uniquely personalized, aggregating their health data in one place and integrating it with native iOS and Android health apps. Once users have seamless, connected data built into their native health ecosystem, Withings devices are top of mind when they’re ready to buy another connected healthcare product. Loyalty and personalization is a dynamite combo that enables brands to target at the segment level with broad-based recommendations. Customers receive offers targeted not just at customers like them, but as individuals with uniquely relevant products, offers, and communications. InspiringApps & BrainTrust This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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The future is virtual thanks to advances in the Metaverse, a virtual world where individuals can gather, work, and play. The Metaverse is experiencing explosive growth, and companies are strategizing on existing and thriving in this new frontier. Meta (previously known as Facebook) believes it is the “next evolution of social connection.” Behind this evolution are the key technologies defining software development that dictate how we spend, connect, and experience life in the Metaverse. Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and NFTs If you’ve heard the terms Bitcoin, crypto, and NFT but still feel out of the loop, you’re not alone. Bitcoin is the best-known example of crypto (in fact, it’s why blockchain tech was created in the first place). Enabled by blockchain, the Metaverse will support an economy of crypto and NFT assets that users own. That’s why this interrelated “fintech” will not only develop but be a key driver in the Metaverse. Blockchain Let’s start unpacking all this with a look at blockchain. Blockchain can be likened to a virtual banking system. It’s a digital ledger of transactions replicated and distributed across a network of systems on a virtual chain that is (appropriately) virtually impossible to hack. Blockchain-based Metaverse environments offer digital proof of ownership for assets. In other words, blockchain enables an economy in the Metaverse. Cryptocurrency Financial technology experts believe cryptocurrency (crypto) is exceptionally safe, private, quickly transferable, and inflation proof. That’s because crypto is created and stored electronically in the blockchain, using encryption methods to control the establishment of monetary units and to authenticate the transfer of funds. In the Metaverse, crypto is comparable to the money in your wallet. Unlike a physical wallet, a private key for your crypto wallet proves your ownership of the funds. If you want to buy something in the Metaverse economy with money in that wallet, crypto will serve as the currency of exchange. NFT NFT means “non-fungible token”—a digital asset representing a real-world object like artwork or music. NFTs are typically encoded with the same underlying software as crypto to prove ownership in the Metaverse. The key difference between NFT and crypto is that NFTs are unique and irreplaceable. Crypto is fungible (a dollar is worth the same as any other dollar, and can be swapped with any other dollar). Nonfungible is the opposite—there are no two same versions of the Mona Lisa. In the Metaverse, users can purchase NFTs for the purposes of not only art but other unique assets like virtual real estate and event tickets. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality Augmented reality, or AR, is an enriched form of physical reality. AR is achieved by embedding virtual objects or digital elements, including sound, visuals, and other sensory stimuli, into the real physical world. Virtual reality (VR) creates a simulated environment that enables users to interact with an artificial three-dimensional (3-D) environment through computer modeling and simulation. With VR, you disappear into a created space. With MR, the space is designed around you. There’s an argument that you can have AR or VR—not both. That’s where mixed reality (MR) comes into play. Mixed reality is a cutting-edge form of AR that lets users interact with virtual objects. Instead of just seeing an object in the virtual version of physical space, users can touch and interact with the object—for instance, placing a virtual whiteboard that users can draw on using a tablet. MR tech continually gathers information about a user’s environment to make the space feel “real.” While there are still many questions about how the Metaverse will function in the future, AR, VR, and MR will no doubt be at its core. These technologies will enable the Metaverse to resemble space and time in the real world, so interactions are visual, auditory, and dynamic. Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer’s ability to do things typically done by people. Today, Meta uses AI and algorithms to analyze, curate, and serve up content within their other platforms, Facebook and Instagram. Most people have experienced AI without realizing it. “Alexa, what’s the weather?” and “Hey Siri, read my messages” are both examples of AI in everyday life. For the Metaverse, users will find examples of AI in avatars and digital representations of the human body. Avatars represent the individual’s creativity in their virtual world, freeing them to change their look to whatever they want it to be. Digital humans acting as background characters can interact with real people through AI technology, creating a richer, more profound virtual experience in the Metaverse. Bolstered by machine learning, AI technology, including language processing, will make interactions in the Metaverse increasingly more sophisticated. A key feature of AI is language processing, where processing breaks down natural spoken languages and outputs them into a machine-readable format. Then, the AI creates a response, converts it back to English, and sends it back to the user. Language processing could enable interaction between players and non-player characters (NPCs) in the Metaverse. AI and machine learning both benefit from a plethora of data. As the technology collects more data and experiences feedback from human interaction, AI gets better. As the AI gets better, it will be increasingly more realistically human, and the Metaverse will continuously grow more like the real-world human experience. Conclusion The Metaverse has plenty of benefits—like secure transactions, inflation-proof digital currency, and engagement with friends and family anywhere in the world—but it’s still a topic of debate. Questions of access, integrity, security, and ethics will keep the Metaverse in active conversation. However, the Metaverse is still relatively new, and research, operations, and testing advance it daily. The Metaverse is an amalgamation of advanced technology introduced with increasing speed over the past decade. Our clients don’t have to navigate the complexities and questions of the Metaverse alone. InspiringApps builds beautiful and inspiring software, and we’re here to help you thrive during your journey into the Metaverse. InspiringApps & BrainTrust This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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