Olympic athletes have agreed to become beta testers for a number of technology companies focusing on health and fitness. Volunteers will allow the trackers to collect their exercise, nutrition, and sleep data for the duration of the Games. Members of the US track cycling team, for example, have agreed to wear glucose trackers and sleep monitors that report on nutritional needs and muscular capacity.
Companies like DexCom and Zeo, which manufacture health tracking devices, and Optimized Athlete, a startup that analyzes patterns in personal health data, are taking advantage of the golden opportunity. Stakeholders hope to collect a wealth of high-quality data from, in theory, the best test subjects in the world for their devices. Olympic testing will provide insights that inform the reengineering of these gadgets and ultimately help position them for success on the market. As the Financial Times pointed out, perfect compliance with the study will lead to perfect data. What more could a marketer want?
This is exactly the type of value exchange that marketers should be building into data-driven products, during beta testing and beyond. It’s a true value exchange: the marketer collects data that teaches him about his consumer and how to improve his product, and the user receives personalized information on how to be better.
In the Olympics arrangement, each participant has access to continuous information on his nutrition, the quality of his sleep, and essentially the performance potential of his body. The athletes (users) provide their personal data and in return receive pattern analyses that educate them on how best to eat, sleep, and optimize performance in their events. The device manufacturers (marketers) will walk away with top-tier research that will allow them to perfect their products.
In the long term, we (the consumers without Olympic-caliber athletic prowess) stand to benefit from the intelligence gathered at the 2012 Games. What was once raw data—such as depth of sleep or daily intake of glucose—will be applied to teach us as individuals more about our bodies’ unique needs. How do you think you stand to benefit most from this research?