You Can't Trust the Data if Users Don't Trust the App

My favorite quote is one of Yogi Berra's:

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."

In theory, sharing data in cloud apps helps everyone. But in practice:

  1. You can get in a lot of trouble for sharing everything.
  2. Sharing often benefits the sponsor more than the user.
  3. People selectively only share the good news.
  4. When people share mostly good news, it discourages people from sharing all their news.
  5. Extremist users over-share their POV, making most users feel less connected.

The result? Most people, aware of the consequences of tracked data, hold back. Data is therefore highly distorted.

In theory, radar guns show most drivers following the speed limit. In practice, people see the speed trap and slow down. Tracking awareness changes behavior and engagement.

Pilots intended to get better data

We are experimenting with a number of companies on apps that address these issues. Using the same tracking technologies, we turn the tables. Instead of tracking to catch the user, we present the data directly to the user for their benefit. Here are some of the principles we are following:

  1. Make data capture a simple self-diagnostic.
  2. Give great data to get great data.
  3. Trust that the user will self-improve when they see data they trust.
  4. Track, but in a way that benefits the user directly.
  5. Focus on user return-on-use.
  6. Create incognito sessions where users can perform "what if's" securely and without consequence.
  7. Let the user know they are in a private group with peers they respect and want to follow.