Data Simplicity

I recently had a birthday. So, the day arrived, I was given a little box, opened it up, and was completely deflated when I realised it wasn’t an Apple watch. It was a little plastic thing that looked like something out of one of my daughters’ Happy Meals. According to my wife however, this thing was even better than an Apple Watch. “You put it on your shoe, connect to an app and gives you all this cool data stuff when you run” she said.

A few days later I went for a run. I tied this thing to my shoe, then spent about 10 minutes trying to sync it to the app. It didn’t work. I was convinced it was a dud. Deflated, I took my iPhone in one hand, dog lead in the other and set off on another uneventful, boring and monotonous run.

When I got back home, everything changed!

I opened up the app with low expectations, only to find a wealth of information that I’d never seen before. The dodgy little plastic device had somehow captured the basics such as my pace, but more interestingly, it told me my stride length, how I was landing on my foot, whether I was hitting the ground too hard or too soft, and whether my back-leg lift was high enough or not. I was amazed.

After over 30 years of running, running the same way and basically seeing it as a chore, I was like a kid with a new bike. I couldn’t wait to run again. In fact, I went back out the next day, and worked on everything the data told me I needed to do to get better. And I ran better. 3 months on, I’m still looking to improve and have that dodgy little plastic thing on my shoe.

I was amazed that being presented with 5 new pieces of relatively simple data, in a timely and convenient way, completely revolutionised something that I had been doing the same way for over 30 years.

I tell this story whenever I’m talking to clients about getting started with data. We often get worried about what we think we should be doing or trying to develop the world’s most comprehensive data solution. When all we really should be doing is looking to use the data we do have to find and present those little snippets of new information that can have a significant impact on the way we do things.

We need to start by asking what we want to know. The data’s out there.

And so is that Apple Watch!