Big Data and Your Post Holiday Pounds
Losing weight and getting fit are among the top five most popular New Year’s Resolutions every year. But resolutions tend to wear out by spring and many people struggle to keep up the energy, enthusiasm and motivation to stick to their goals. A very 2014 solution may be the answer to this problem: data.

Although data may not seem as motivational as a good RATT mix or a 6-foot-3, ex-Navy SEAL trainer yelling in your ear, data could be your ticket to a happy, healthy new year. And technologists are all in. At CES this year, fitness wearables stole the show. From Fitbit to the new Sleep Number smart bed, these products are all about data; their value is that they collect troves of data about the wearer’s exercise, eating and sleeping habits, which they can then (hopefully) turn into actionable changes.

Data, Data, Data

For marketers, the data from these highly intelligent smart devices provides valuable information about consumer likes, dislikes, routines and habits that’s used for a slightly different purpose. This data ultimately provides strategic direction for marketing campaigns and promotions. Using this personalized information gathered from smart devices, marketers can set advertising campaigns based on the specific times of the year when people are more likely to gain weight, lose sleep, eat more salad, etc. Say, for example, that Planet Fitness gathers data from Fitbit and serves more ads to users of the fitness band between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Contextual Relevance

But what if this information could do more than just determine when an advertisement runs or a promotion goes live? This brings me to the idea of the connected device and the Internet of Things.

I have a Withings scale. My scale knows when I gain or lose weight, and helps me track that information on the Withings website. If I can connect the data from my scale to an app where I track my meals, or a watch that tracks my workout habits, I can get a complete picture of how my diet and exercise routine affects my weight. By providing this contextual relevance to the consumer, Withings can really impact people's lives and improve customer experiences. With comprehensive incorporation of data, the product just went from just a pretty-cool scale to a full-blown personal trainer.

Flipping the data from a marketer’s hands to a consumer’s hands makes the experience mutually beneficial for both parties -- and it could be the best new way for marketers to use this data in customer outreach. There’s always a way for marketers to make data contextually relevant to benefit consumers.

'The Weird Factor'

We get it, it’s weird to let machines and websites know all of your personal information about about your health and your body. But, you get what you give in these situations. Data is what you make it. Just as Google can remind you about upcoming flights, or notify you of a contact's birthday if you let it read your email, the more information you give your Withings scale or any other device, the more it can work together with you to create a holistic picture of your overall health. Together, information from all those outlets can help you live a better life, guiding you to make the best decisions about your health and wellness.

Though this sounds aspirational, we’re really not too far away from a world of connected devices that work together to help us live the best life. The biggest hurdle for us to overcome is the tendency to silo information and data that could work together to provide us with valuable insights that go hand in hand. And it’s not just the health industry that holds this potential -- imagine the impact of combined finance and shopping apps, or weather and travel apps. The possibilities of contextual data are endless.

Title image by rknickme (Flickr) via a Creative Commons license

Editor's Note: Read more from Tom in Brands Take the Reins from Retail