As an early adopter of Fitbit, in my fifth year of membership, I watched a company take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. A ‘digital pedometer’ is how I initially introduced the One. People were less than impressed in the early days. Then the amazing side of big data showed up. Friends were following friends online to compare stats. Not just compare, but compete. The ‘fitness tracker that shares your data online’ as I began to describe the One, was something people were curious about. And I had it. Little by little people would ask in admiration, ‘Is that a Fitbit?’ My _________ (sister/mother/friend) has one. Awww.
I wore my One to a Matchbox Twenty show in Manchester NH on opening night of their North summer tour. Going through security the officer stopped me, pointed with his scanning wand over the device and asked abruptly, ‘What is that’? I got all excited and took it off to show him my Fitbit One and to describe how it worked and what it tracked, and he waved me through the line even as I kept talking on and on about it. My family was laughing like crazy, and had to explain to me that he didn’t really care what it was, as long as it was safe. Oh.
If, by accident, I got in my car without the One in the morning, I’d run back into the house for it. If I started to drive away and realized I didn’t have it, I turned back around. If the unthinkable happened and I got to work without it, I felt naked all day. I’d tell my Facebook friends to live it up because I wasn’t tracking any data today. Like you, I pat myself down to make sure I’m wearing the Fitbit.
We don’t care about the device though, do we? We are worried about taking a step that doesn’t count. Climbing a flight of stairs that will be invisible to our friends and family. The human side of big data says, I am all in, but I’m in it for me. I am in it for high-quality, accurate data that doesn’t let me down.
It’s been several years, and I’m holding big data to a higher standard now. Big Data needs to be trustworthy. And I’ve seen the side of it that says you’re a liar. On the days the battery in the device is dead, and the notification is two days late, then you’ve lost me. My insurance premium discount depends on the points accrued. And if my device isn’t tracking and giving me every point I deserve, then I’m out. The human side of big data says no excuses, do your job. The glory days of big data are over. Show us what you’ve got.