In its most recent round of updates, Google Calendar announced the inclusion of Goals, a new tool that allows users to set goals (like learning a new language, or working out more), that Calendar will automatically schedule in during free time. Want to start hitting the gym four times a week? Trying to remember to meditate? Need to squeeze in time to call your mother? Calendar will suggest timing for you, which you have the option of deferring until later in the day or week.
While technology companies leveraging user data to "push" suggested products or behaviors is not necessarily a new concept, it is one that has become increasingly widespread. Today, consumers are virtually chased around the internet with suggested ads based on their search and browsing preferences; we have "smart" thermostats that automatically adjust themselves based on learned temperature preferences; some meal delivery services that are programmed to re-order based on items that its users have rated highly.
As I've discussed in previous blog posts, consumer adoption tends to drive widespread adoption, and I don't see the data automation trend being any different. However, not every industry -- or product offering -- is suited to provide this level of service. So if you're considering launching a similar application for your business, what is necessary to truly make this a seamless, and useful, process?
- Access to data, lots of data: In order to successfully bring to market a data automation product, you need to have a lot of good data to fuel it. A data automation tool is virtually useless, and difficult to execute, without a high volume of accurate data, so if mainlining information isn't a part of your business model, you may want to look elsewhere in terms of services expansion.
- Necessary technology to deliver value: Once you have the data, you need to determine whether or not you have the technology at your disposal to use it in a meaningful way that will deliver value to customers. While some have questioned the necessity of something like Google Goals, the stronger criticism has come from those that have (fairly) pointed out that it requires a high degree of user involvement to make sure that it runs smoothly -- and isn't scheduling conversational-Italian lessons during your afternoon meetings.
- Customer demand: Despite having the available data, and the relevant technology, you need to ask yourself whether this is truly a service that your customers need, and will use. At this stage, it's important to be honest with yourself about whether you are building it because it will truly enhance the user experience and bring value, or just because you can.
While offering your customers a data automation tool can be a great way to drive further engagement and show off the breadth of your service offerings, you should first determine whether your product and industry is really fit, and will add value to users rather than additional hassle and noise.
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