Given the speed of mobile business (and the urgency with which traditional businesses need to get into mobile), it’s understandable that many mobile marketers spend the majority of their time “hacking” solutions to short-term problems. Their days and nights consist of finding answers to questions like “How do I acquire more users,” or “How do I get my dormant users to open my app once more,” rather than addressing the bigger, more strategic issues like, “How do I create a competitive advantage that will grow and sustain my business?” It’s nothing to be ashamed of, we all do it to one degree or another.
The problem is that like eating too much sugar or polluting the environment, doing what’s convenient in the short-term as opposed to what’s right in the long term can carry enormous — and lasting — consequences.
Unfortunately, mobile marketers are all too prone to taking an incremental approach to their data, which is to say, one SDK at a time. Like eating junk food, it can become highly addictive and brings with it many hidden costs. App is crashing? Implement a crash reporting solution. Want to understand user flows and cohorts? Implement an analytics tool or two. Want to send push notifications? Implement a marketing automation solution. Need to re-engage users? Implement a retargeting solution. And so it goes, until the app is bloated, slow, and unstable.
By allowing opportunistic circumstances to dictate the data strategy and architecture, they have chosen — often without knowing they had a choice, making it accidental — the path of convenience as opposed to the path toward what’s healthy and right for the business.
The symptoms of an Accidental Data Strategy Syndrome (“ADSS”) can manifest in many ways. Much like running a fever or breaking out in hives, pains such as SDK fatigue, app bloat, instability, and slow user growth are signs of a deeper rooted problem in the company’s mobile business. There is no silver-bullet cure, but there is a recommended course of prevention and treatment, which includes the design and implementation of a proper data plan and infrastructure.
To find out if you suffer from ADSS, here is a list of symptoms to watch out for…
Are your engineers annoyed?
Continual tagging of the same events and no ability to re-use old code.
Have to do work that they don’t enjoy doing.
Have to commit to maintain something they didn’t want to do to begin with.
Important roadmap items slip because of inefficient resource allocation.
Is your App bloated?
Added weight from SDKs slows time to download the app.
Added weight has increased app size and has the app running slow.
Overall speed, performance, and stability having taken a hit.
Is your App unstable?
Bad SDK or bad implementation has the app crashing.
Maybe some SDKs work fine on their own but incompatible with other SDKs.
Is your code is a mess?
Lots of extraneous code from existing and legacy 3rd party vendors.
Updating the core app has become more complex than it should be.
The team can’t move as fast as they want in fear that changes will destabilize the app.
Technical debt that needs to get paid down but no cycles or resources to do so.
Do you have degraded UX?
Frequent app updates for “minor fixes and improvements” but really to fix an SDK issue.
Several crashes from partner code.
Users complaining about excess battery life and data plan consumption.
Are you tired of waiting?
Waiting to get engineering resources.
Waiting for the next release.
Waiting for the app store approval.
Waiting for users to update the app.
Are you unable to do your job?
Inability to get necessary tools implemented.
Stuck doing things manually which is slow, inefficient and wasteful.
Have you burned your political capital?
The partner you fought for – their SDK broke the app or didn’t work as advertised.
Too much budget tied up on vendor(s) that didn’t work out.
Are you moving too slow?
Cold start challenge with each new partners means 60 days are wasted waiting for data.
Too much time spent vetting vendors.
Opportunity missed waiting for new features promised by vendors months ago.
Do you feel locked in?
Stuck with vendors with no alternative because you can’t get resources.
No leverage over vendor pricing discussion so you overpay for tools.
No way to filter data to control for vendor costs or privacy.
Left money on the table because current vendor(s) didn’t work.
If you are feeling any or all of these, you should consult with an expert. The good news is that diagnosing the underlying problem is the first step to getting your data back into shape.
The bad news is there are no quick fixes. Diets don’t last and don’t work, and success won’t happen overnight. You have to work proactively at being healthy – it’s about making lifestyle changes that accumulate over time to create a surplus rather than a deficit of positive factors that contribute to overall well-being. Similarly, your commitment to building a healthy, responsible data strategy and infrastructure shouldn’t be undertaken as part of some passing fad.
If you’re ready to get started on the journey toward better data health, investing in a customer data platform is a logical step. Through consolidating data capture, you will not only streamline the myriad of ways in which you collect data, you will also be creating always-on access to your customer data. This will ensure that your data can be easily accessed, enriched, segmented, filtered, replayed, and connected to any number of platforms without having to do additional integrations, taking up engineering cycles, or settling for long lead times. You may not see transformations overnight by investing in a customer data platform (or maybe you will depending on how bad things have gotten), but much like choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle, you will soon start to accumulate a surplus of factors that aid in the overall well-being of your mobile business.