The Tech Equestrian

Welcome to the new normal. Technology is everywhere and effects everyone and everything. To keep up with the changes and information that impacts the equestrian world, I hope you will enjoy the stories, profiles and insights this blog features. In addition, stay connected on social by joining the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages!

TTE Advisory Board: The Data Dilemma

TTE Advisory Board: The Data Dilemma

At The Tech Equestrian we know how important data is to any size business looking to advance their business with the aid of technology. Many of today’s tech enabled businesses are building a one-to-one relationship with their customers by customizing their offerings and experiences. And guess what? It’s getting easier for them to tailor their products & services because the digital footprint you leave every day is expansive and immediately brings to mind the sensitive topic of data privacy.

Let’s ask The Tech Equestrian Advisory Board their thoughts on the best way for tech savvy companies to value and respect their customer’s data and maximize it to expand their offerings – and you be the judge – do you think there is a data dilemma brewing or is it moving business solutions in the right direction?

April Question: The Data Dilemma - Too much customer data or not enough? How is your company using customer data - what are the advantages? What should consumers be aware of when it comes to data privacy? 

Data is essential to the Hylofit offering. At this point there is no such thing as too much. The app provides customized insights based upon data generated during each ride. The more someone rides with Hylofit, the better the insights we can offer. We are continually speaking with customers about how they use Hylofit and considering how we want to expand our data collection to improve our insights. Technology is changing the way people train and data allows us to know more about the impact our riding has on the fitness and well-being of our horses. Sharing data with a key care network (vets, trainers, other riders) helps improve performance and create accountability. Within Hylofit, users can share a pdf of a specific training session with a caregiver or can choose to give someone permission to view all of their rides. Our customers own their own data and it is their decision to share it or not. When they sign up for Hylofit they give us the right to use their data in an anonymized fashion. As we grow our platform we are looking to aggregate this anonymized data to offer comparison insights to our users. Average stats based upon breed, discipline and age can be used to benchmark an individual horse’s performance within the app and deliver more meaningful training feedback.

Personally, I find companies' use of customer data to be mostly helpful but sometimes creepy.  In most cases, I appreciate that, for example, Amazon knows what type of book I enjoy. However, sometimes it's scary when I've had a phone conversation with a friend about buying a new mattress, and then presto - my Facebook feed suddenly show ads for mattresses. THAT is creepy!  In any case, I think that consumers need to be aware of what data they are putting out through the Internet, and to whom they give it.

At Stable Secretary, we collect and analyze limited and basic information about our users. We use it to keep our messaging relevant to each individual user, and to help us understand the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. For example, we track an address for each subscription to help us understand the adoption rate of our software geographically.  We use other information - Product Type purchased and Team Member Type for each user - to filter email lists to keep them relevant for each recipient. For example, only users with our "Professional" product can invoice through our system, so we don't bother the users with Performance or Essentials products with information about an invoicing upgrade in our software. Similarly, since stable employees and owners cannot customize most of the settings in our software, we don't bother them with announcements about customization that aren't relevant to their usage. 

There is never enough customer data. I found a surprising lack of available market and customer data in the equine market. To that end, I spent two years conducting extensive direct surveys, collected data, and drawing additional information from public resources. At StableGuard we use this data to identify the geographic areas or equine segments we should focus our time and resources. We also collect usage information to build better user experiences.

The collection and use of data should be regulated. Control over your own personal data is liberty, and should be a fundamental right.
I think Europe gets this more right than us with the adoption of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). They have a lot more laws around personal information - For example, in Europe consumers have the right to be forgotten. Technologists can, and should, incorporate privacy and data controls into the framework of all of platforms.

At Magic AI, we are dealing with more horse data than humans. But we take our responsibilities seriously. Privacy and ethical use of our platform are built in from the ground up.And we try to be clear with our customers about the capabilities and limitations of our systems.

We have many examples of how Big Data is transforming the industry from something as visual as the reduction of traffic jams to its use for the personalization of products and services. But let's talk about data visualization: Too much data is useless if we are not able to visualize what we are looking for. The challenge for companies is to extract the value of the data, and for this reason it is necessary to have the best visualization tools. Over time, artificial intelligence and machine learning models will be responsible to process these huge amounts of data (it is already done, in fact, in some fields), but there will always be a decisive human factor, at least for some time ahead.

Data visualization will grow in importance in the short term. Data visualization is a general term that describes any effort to help people understand the importance of the data by placing them in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that can go unnoticed in text-based data can be more easily exposed and recognized with data visualization software.

If we talk about Big Data, the visualization of data is crucial to direct decision-making at a high level with greater success. The analysis of Big Data has immense potential to help companies in taking decisions and place the company in the face of a realistic future.

At Ekinox Tech we are thinking (in the medium-long term) of creating an app for mobile phones where we can quickly view the data stored in the terminal and also be able to better understand the consumer's behavior. For example: which EMS programs customers use more frequently, what type of horse muscles the customers trains more, the heart rate of the horse during the different sessions, how many times a week the system it is used and for what purpose.

When you’re building a product and or service, you can never have enough data because you can use it to make your offering even better. Without data, you wouldn’t know what the most important features are, which functions are difficult to use and how to provide a premium customer service experience.

Just this week, I was looking at who had entered the most horses into The Equestrian app. I found one member with over 150 horses in the system and immediately thought WOW! I sent them an email and talked to them about how I could make my app easier to use when managing all those horses at their stable.  She was surprised I contacted her and was even more excited that I was willing to listen to her requests.

In addition, when I was reviewing location data, I noticed three users in Dubai. One of the locations was in the desert and when I drilled into it, I thought to myself, “That is just the most amazing race track ever!  Just beautiful!Then I noticed the track was a funny shape, kind of teardrop shape and low and behold the Google bubble told me that it was a camel-racing track! So now, I have camels in my app.

But it is all about privacy and trust and the importance of it. One of the FAQ questions I have on my website is, “What do you do with the data?” My answer is simple. “We are not Facebook, we don’t sell your data.”

The Data Dilemma: Quality or quantity?My answer always will be, when it comes to data it depends on your objectives and how are you going to use it.For example when we started Equo we wanted to know more about the lead that came through the website such as number of horses, discipline, if they have a trailer, if they mainly use commercial shipping companies or friends/trainers, and that was a good strategy to know the market. Now we also look at email, phone and zip code to use this info to contact them directly and to learn more about our customer needs.

You have to be very careful when asking too much information from a potential customer because it could turn into something negative. You should have a very well planned process and always focus on giving back anything in exchange of personal information, discounts, e/books, etc.

Let me tell you, this is a big topic for companies large and small.  In my day job, my Fortune 50 clients are asking these same questions every day. However utilization of data and data privacy is just as applicable to trainers and barn managers in the horse industry as it is to these multi-billion dollar organizations.  

The big question is how do you turn data (facts you know) into information (organized data) you can use to further your business. For those entrusted with the care of our precious horses, I think having easy access to data that is organized for them is key to the success of the health and happiness of our horses. For example, keeping track of the horses farrier and vet history in one central location makes it easy to see when it was last reset or vet work was completed. You can never have too much data, as long as it is in a retrievable and easy to use format. This is one of the founding bases of HorseLinc, which is designed to help consolidate this data into information without adding hours of data entry on top of everyone's busy schedule.

Data privacy is also a hot topic for all companies, especially with increasing regulations in this space.  Do owners really know where their personally identifiable information (PII), such as address and credit card information, ends up with all the service providers required to keep our horses in tip top shape. Again, another topic that is near and dear to my heart and another guiding principal for HorseLinc is giving the owners the option to enter their information once in a secure location that then they can authorize trainers to approve payments on their behalf. This avoids the risk of having trainers, barn managers, and service providers holding and securing PII for their clients.

We all have the obligation to use what we have available to us to help our horses live the best life they can have. We need to store and use this data in a manner that does not put anyone at risk in the mean time. Certainly an interesting topic for the horse industry as it slowly evolves into the 21st century.

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Legal Insights on Knowing Your Data Rights to Protect Yourself and Your Horse

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