Staying ahead of the curve isn’t simply adopting new technology, but reinventing your approach. Catch up with our latest VB Live event, where master data-driven marketers from dating site superstar and retail powerhouse Wayfair deliver insight into what it takes to use mobile data right.

Access this free VB Live event on demand right here.

“Companies that make real-time decisions based on data tend to have happier customers,” says Jesse Robbins, CEO of Orion Labs and former CEO of Chef. “Whether it’s a site like Match, a shopping site, or an enterprise site, people are now expecting a set of technologies and experiences that feel magical, personalized, relevant and contextually appropriate for them.”

“I consider that to be table stakes regardless of the type of company that you’re building,” Robbins adds.

Mobile data is changing the game

Information has always been a precious resource, says James Peng, head of mobile and social acquisition at Match Group. “But mobile has really transformed how data is used and how valuable it is,” Peng says. “That’s the reason why mobile apps are starting to catch the lion’s share of new acquisition. Data is very valuable not only to us but for users. If you target the user correctly, give them the right message, you can give them a much better experience as well as not waste their time.”

Amazon was an early leader on the commerce side in leveraging data to transform customer experiences, Robbins says. “Companies are essentially trying to make better real-time decisions and customizations so the things customers see are relevant, appropriate and useful,” he explains. “You’re not spending so much time searching — you’re spending more time doing.”

Building a data-first foundation

However, Bob Sherwin, VP of direct marketing at Wayfair, warns that an obsessive focus on new real-time data capabilities can be detrimental to the health of your business, if you’re not building the right foundation.

“First and foremost we want to be relevant for customers whenever they are in market,” Sherwin says. “But there are a lot of other basics that companies need to get right before they go really far down the path trying to do hyper geo-based targeting.”

The concept of “real-time data” is usually applied to third-party data that rounds out the capabilities you have in house. But too many companies have essential information sitting right there that’s never tapped.

“Leveraging your own first-party data is first and foremost to really understand who a customer is,” says Sherwin. “It’s critical to invest a lot of energy into linking that customer together across their actions on their devices, and making sure that data is as good as you can get it.”

What’s holding you back?

It’s an approach that can help overcome the major hurdles that most companies face when they explore the possibility of incorporating new mobile data capabilities — and what too often sends them screaming back into the arms of the static data sitting in their CRM databases.

“With the new data and increased number of devices, this data is much more complicated,” Sherwin explains. “You have to understand the identity of people across more devices and the role that different devices play in that person’s decision journey.”

And that can derail you. “If you still don’t have a sense of who that customer is, and there’s data you’re already sitting on that’s more basic than that and you haven’t figured out how to mine and how to operationalize, then the new data is going to be a distraction to you.”

The fix is, unsurprisingly, focus. “Our approach has been to be extremely disciplined in leveraging the data that we do have from the beginning,” Sherwin explains. “And being extremely disciplined in understanding and aligning on the metrics that matter to us. If you don’t have that discipline, if you don’t have the platform to track those metrics and an alignment internally, then new metrics can actually cause a distraction from getting the basics right.”

Preparing for the future of data

Another issue, Peng explains, is that even if you want to leap into the real-time mobile data metrics, it can often be hard to find and hard to reach.

“Right now the state of mobile data overall is just so sparse and scattered,” Peng says. “The biggest difficulty is that people are, for the most part, anonymous on their mobile devices. Not only that, but it’s spread out between different devices, so the identity of someone is incredibly difficult to determine and it’s also not standardized.”

But it’s still just the dawn of the mobile data revolution, he adds, and it’s worth the trouble to start implementing the strategy and infrastructure you need to take advantage of the value of mobile data.

“As data becomes more standardized across the space, everyone is going to be able target and reach their users much more effectively,” he says.

For insight into investing in infrastructure, streamlining your mobile data strategy, and the new KPIs that will change your customer relationships, catch up on this VB Live event now.

Access it on demand right here.

In this VB Live event, you’ll:

  • Learn which mobile analytics will matter in the next five years
  • Understand the ways that KPIs monthly active users (MUA) can be interpreted
  • Measure beyond smartphones — including wearables, connected cars and more


  • James Peng, Head of Mobile and Social Acquisition, Match Group
  • Bob Sherwin, VP Direct Marketing, Wayfair
  • Jesse Robbins, CEO, Orion Labs former CEO of Chef
  • Evan Schuman, Moderator, VentureBeat

This VB Live event is sponsored by mParticle.