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Data

The new normal: how mobility data will support our quickly evolving business-as-usual environment

Lisa Jillson · June 15, 2020 · 6 min read
Lisa Jillson discusses why now, more than ever, is the time to invest in data as we switch to a new normal.

All at once, the world has changed.

Most of us are fairly flexible. We can work from home on occasion. We can temporarily shift our daily routines to flow with the unexpected. But after four, six, or more than eight weeks of daily life disruption, new habits begin to form. Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we think and go about our days personally, but it’s also affecting our work and the businesses we work with.

This impact is likely to last.

It’s really admirable to see how many businesses have evolved to work remotely or with social distance protocols so quickly. We’re Zooming. We’re having groceries, take-out, and toilet paper (if we can find it) delivered to our door. We’re driving less and walking more.

There’s something to be said for snapping back to business as usual after the Shelter-in-Place recommendations and mandates in March in the U.S., but it’s not business as usual. It may never be “usual.”

When behaviors change, especially from a marketing perspective, we sit up and take notice. And that’s no different for us at Arity.

The way people get from point A to point B is evolving.

Take a look at the report that Arity recently published based on our live webinar about the shifts in transportation and driving behaviors during COVID-19. Most people are driving less, but some people are driving more. Of those people who are still on the road, overall, they’re driving faster.  And, in general, people are driving differently, with weekend and weekday behaviors blurring together.

What can we, as a society, do with this data? That is the question. Arity certainly has a ton of data. We always have. That report I just mentioned is based on more than 23 million active telematics connections from diverse sources. We see this difficult time as an opportunity to dig into that data to show the differences that might impact our customers’ and other industries’ lives and livelihoods.

So no, this is NOT business as usual. We’re all making a new normal.

Behavioral trends will continue to shift.

One reason mobile app publishers like to work with Arity is that we can help them monetize data in their app by running ads that are unique to the app subscribers and how they get from point A to point B. These ads are based on real-world data about how people move, and how people move is rapidly and dramatically changing.

Marketing must change because trends are changing. Consumers are changing how they buy and where they go and how frequently, and the changes are happening whip-lash quickly. Old ways of predicting behaviors based on history are no longer effective when history is so different than what is happening today.

This might sound dire, but once we give in to this idea that we must adapt, we’re open to ideas and innovation. Waiting it out to see if society bounces back to the old normal simply isn’t an option.

This is the time to find new opportunities to reach the right audience wherever they are, to provide what they need maybe even before they know they need it, and to leverage systems, like telematics data and analytics, that your organization might have found extraneous or extravagant before.

We must keep up with the pace of change to survive.

So how do we adapt and transform to survive in this sea of change? Every business will have its unique approach, but let’s look at a few ideas:

  1. Continually test new data sources to optimize your marketing. With new and current data, you can think through, test, and learn brand-new behaviors to optimize your programs. Don’t assume that what worked before will work now. Consider these examples:
    • Leverage telematics or driver risk data in insurance advertising to get a more lucrative prospect in the door and force your competition to take the less valuable drivers.
    • Use mileage data for auto service advertising to reach drivers when they are most in need of service.
    • Deploy driver risk data to find the best drivers for delivery service.
  2. Innovate new products. Use shifts in transportation patterns to develop new products, like pay-by-the-mile insurance for customers who continue a pattern of decreased driving.
  3. Drill down on the data to predict emerging behaviors. People react to crises differently. For example, if you consider the restaurant business, you might think that they would unilaterally decrease advertising to their restaurants. While a segment might do exactly that, a subgroup might double-down on advertising for delivery or pick-up.

It’s possible to predict evolving consumer behaviors with data.

This time last year, we couldn’t imagine this pandemic impacting our world in such a deep and powerful way. This time next year, we’re going to say the same thing about how the world has changed even more. We’ll say that there was no way we could imagine the dips and shifts in how society moves without predictive analysis and forecasting based on real-time data.

If your business doesn’t already have data that is driving important decision making, from business strategy to marketing strategy to communication strategy, you’ll soon be in a very uncomfortable place.

Basing decisions on typical patterns or only traditional data sources, like demographics or credit scores, are not going to work anymore. Behaviors, and the corresponding data and analysis, are going to shift fast and dramatically over the next year or two as we move our way through this public health crisis.

Tomorrow will be unexpectedly different.

Now is the time to invest in data. There isn’t a business-as-usual to go back to, not in a few months, not in a couple of years. Different is the new normal, and tomorrow will be different in ways that are completely unexpected.

When you can quickly predict emerging trends and patterns, your leadership and decision-making will be based on our new and current reality, and you’ll be contributing to the success of our society.

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