You’ve probably heard the popular phrase, Big Data. But what exactly is it? If you ask experts in the industry, you’ll get a variety of definitions. However, according to Forbes, Gartner, Inc. defines it as, high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.”
To gain insight about why Big Data is such a big deal, I sought answers from one of the experts, James Rogers. Rogers says,
The explosion of data, often referred to as Big Data, is a result of the conversion of online business occurring 24×7, news and media going digital, the social media explosion, and the connected universe we live in. As a result, there’s amazing, new, and unique data elements that previously didn’t exist, that now allow incredible new insights for common sales, marketing and researcher tasks such as profiling, prospecting, and researching — all to gain deeper insights to improve customer engagement and business execution.
So how does “Big Data” relate to your own personal data — the data about YOU? Traditionally, corporations have effectively used data analytics in Human Resources, Customer Support, Marketing, and Sales to measure the effectiveness of employees, to generate leads, to better serve you, and to drive sales. Gaining knowledge, the “deeper insights” that Rogers refers to, enables corporations to make better business decisions, improve customer engagement, and to improve the bottom line. Just like in business, your personal analytics (data) can be applied to your personal life in order to improve your health, wellness, happiness, productivity, and effectiveness. These analytics help you to decide how to invest time and money into yourself to obtain a better return on your “self investments.”
Your “Personal Analytics” or “Personal Big Data”
Your personal big data can include any information about you. The purpose of measuring these aspects of your life is to gain knowledge about yourself, which can lead to insights for improving your health and happiness and for reaching personal goals. Personal analytics is also referred to as the “Quantified Self.” If you’re unfamiliar with the “Quantified Self” movement, refer to http://quantifiedself.com/ to learn more about self-tracking.
The technology for measuring personal analytics for health and fitness has been around for some time. In fact, I purchased my first Polar® heart rate monitor to calculate calories burned from my workouts at least ten years ago. Wearables became mainstream after the partnership between Nike and Apple came about to launch footwear that connects directly to the iPod to measure time, distance, calories burned and pace. Since this time, several products have emerged that measure everything from sleep patterns, blood pressure, miles, to calories burned. These wearable devices are convenient because they automatically measure many analytics so there’s no need to manually enter the information. Most of these devices include an online component, and the corporations that collect this data from the wearables are able to utilize this information to better serve you, and they can also tailor their marketing efforts to suit your buying habits if their privacy policies permit this usage.
The LightArrow Approach to Personal Big Data
With the growth of wearables, apps, and tools to gather your personal data about health, fitness, wellness, etc., eventually you’ll find yourself wearing several different devices and tracking data with a variety of websites and tools. You might end up looking like Inspector Gadget. At LightArrow, we take a different approach. Consider LifeTopix or My.Agenda as the Swiss Army knives of tracking. They provide the flexibility for you to manage the personal metrics that are suitable for your life or business. For example, LifeTopix and My.Agenda (through an in-app purchase) include built-in and user-configurable log forms that allow tracking. The multiple topic log form below includes a variety of aspects of life that one user likes to track – all in one form.
Our apps don’t include a wearable component; however, they enable tracking of any aspect of life you wish to measure (everything from blood pressure to baby burps). You can easily enter your personal data by using the LifeTopix or My.Agenda app on your Apple device, and it’s in context with everything else in your life, such as your schedule, to-dos, schooling, travel, finances, shopping, events, contacts, assets, and more through LightArrow’s 12 life topics. If you use a variety of wearables and websites to track different aspects of life, consider entering the highlights into your LifeTopix or My.Agenda app. For example, you can record your total calories each week, your run mileage, and your BMI in a multiple topic log form. You’ll see useful trends over time.
Custom Log Forms for Personal Big Data
Custom log forms in LightArrow apps are easy to create. For example, the following log form was created for the first year of growth for a baby. Below, you can see how easy it is to create a form and the flexibility of the possible entries. Notice the red arrow — the types of units you can enter are endless.
Once the data is entered, you’re able to gain knowledge about yourself (or others), which can lead to insights for improving health and happiness and for reaching personal goals. Several views are available for analyzing your data (e.g. a list, plot, line, or bar chart). Imagine having the useful data below at your baby’s one year checkup.
Tutorial – How Do I Create a Multi-Topic Log Form?
Are you ready to start measuring your own personal big data? Watch the following video to learn how.
After years or even weeks of usage, imagine the multitude of data you’ll gather and the trends that will give you insight into your life. With this insight, you can take advantage of what’s working, and eliminate what’s not working. And take note, your LightArrow app data is stored on your device (not online), and you can choose to share your ever-growing data with your friends and followers over email or social media. The decision is yours.