By Shaku Atre

September 2015

Digital Disruption: The Forces of Data Driven Smart Apps

What are they? They connect us with friends, find us restaurants, allow us to deposit checks at home without having to visit ATMs, let us pay our bills online, provide the news, help us avoid traffic congestion, and even let us find with one click the side effects of a drug before purchasing it.        

Apps, Big Data, Embedded Analytics, and Smart Phones for Smart Users: Apps are running on the smart phones by digging into big data, transcending embedded analytics from transactional systems into the smart apps with dashboards for easier visualization. Today’s users are running the apps and apps are making the users run to quick and smart decision making. When conventional ways of doing business are thrown into turmoil by an agent, it is called disruption. Today’s agent of disruption is mobile technology and huge amounts of data that is collected. We are seeing the face of Digital Disruption.

Digital disruption and its four forces – Apps, The Users, Big Data, and Embedded Analytics:

  1. Power of today’s Apps:

The major three components of an app are:

  1. User Interface – also called User Experience or front end – the user interface is going to make or break your app,
  2. The backend with data – only a pretty face without backing it up with data is going to be the death trap.
  3. Everything in between which is mainly the logic – if that doesn’t support the pretty face and the data then you are doomed too.

How to start with the apps?

Once the decision is made by the business to develop apps there are a few questions.

  • How to plan, design and develop an app?
  • Should the app be developed in-house or an outside developer should be hired that specializes in app development or use “build your own app” by using software where coding skills are not required? Be cautious with this claim – coding possibly not required but logical thinking – yes – is definitely required.
  • Which data to use? Where to get it from, where and how to store it, how to express the results visually? How can you register responses and how should those be acted upon? And how quickly?
  • How to present the results digitally?
  • Where and how to distribute the apps? Which mobile operating system platform or platforms to use iOS (Apple’s Xcode), Android (SDK), Windows? How to develop and deliver apps on multiple platforms?
  • And very importantly, how to monetize the app –equally important aspect?

Three important criteria of any successful mobile app are:

  1. Simplicity: The ability to eliminate steps or make a current process easier to perform.
  2. Interaction: The ability to encourage greater user involvement that will increase productivity and loyalty.
  3. Encourage your customer’s input: The ability to leverage user insight to improve the functionality of the app.
  4. The Users:

         The demography of the user base is changed. Number of users has increased enormously. Almost everyone above the age of 18 is using a smartphone in the Western world. There is a staggering growth of smart phone users in emerging markets too.

         If we look at the enormous number of smart phone users the percentage of the number of technology savvy people as compared to the total number of smart phone users, who know the system’s internals is going down. Technology savvy is a relative term. For me a technology savvy person can open hardware and fix it or can assemble a working unit of hardware by assembling various parts. As far as technology savviness is concerned with software– it is someone who can write software and develop applications. Percentage of these hardware and software technology people is going down vis-a-vis the total number of smart phone users. 

         The percentage of the number of business savvy people is increasing. And the user base of people under the age of 25 is going up much faster. One of the big reasons is easy access to social media, to video games.

  1. Big Data:

         Is there lack of data? Absolutely not – there is so much data we all will eventually be buried like in Pompeii – unless we use the good data and discard the “garbage” data.

         There is data about existing and potential customers in most of the organizations. Not only what they buy or not buy but also their likings and dislikes – their “Digital DNA.”       

         The apps use big data. But the big data is supposed to be in the wings and not on the stage. Big Data is supposed to be used by the organizations to improve their business performance. Apps have to draw the big data to develop information to be displayed on the smart phone. For Data to be considered Big Data it has to satisfy the following five qualifiers.


What are the major types of data available?


  • Data
    • Competitive Data
    • Internal Data
    • Social Media Data
    • Sentiment Data
    • External Data
  • Data from customers:
    • Their purchases
    • Their sentiments: What did they buy, When did they buy, Why did they buy, Where did they buy, Why did they abandon             the shopping cart with a few other items?
  • From Potential Customers
    • Which competitors are they getting products/services from?
    • Why are the customers getting the items from our competitors and not from us?
  • From Partners
    • Who supplies the best products?
    • What is the rate of defects?
    • One σ (sigma)
    • Two σ (sigma)
    • Three σ (sigma)
  • From Warehouses
    • Which products are ‘moving’ at what speed?
    • Why are some products moving much faster than some other    products? (Shelf space is very expensive)
  • From Sensors
    • We can build businesses through insights gained by using new types of data collected by using sensors .We can capture, store and process this new data to apply predictive analytics, by putting together different types of data and creating single view of the customer, or can discover unseen patterns.
  1. Embedded Analytics:

Three principles of analytics are:

  1. Some things are compared – compared as better or worse than something else
  2. It should be compared based on evidence.
  3. Provide actionable information with multiple variables.

What are embedded analytics?

When trend detection, pattern detection, and the Make It Happen analytics technology is embedded in the transactional applications it is called Embedded Analytics. Some of the capabilities within software applications can be presented as:

  • Dashboards and data visualization
  • Capabilities for users to ask their own questions of the data by exploring a set of data themselves
  • Provide targeted information to support a decision or action in the context in which that decision or action takes place.


  • Amazon: At the time of buying any product from Amazon they provide information about product ratings, video reviews, and suggested products from the data that Amazon has already collected. The analytics are embedded in the Purchase application.