You make hundreds, if not thousands of clicks each day on your computers, phones, smart watches, and tablets. Every click you execute, decision you make, and path you follow leaves a new trail of data. We lovingly call this exhaust data: the data that’s generated and expelled from the ‘online engine’.
But what value can we derive from this exhaust data? How can it create a competitive advantage for you and your business?
What is exhaust data?
Simply put, exhaust data is the byproduct of our digital footprint. It’s data that consists of our online actions and choices, stored as files, cookies, and event logs.
For example, most Salesforce users leave an audit trail of data, an event log that shows historically the steps and timings of the execution of every transaction supported. Let’s say a new service ticket is created: the log will contain the assigned case ID, recognize the case was opened, and the exact time it happened. We can use that exhaust data to better understand and refine the steps for service tickets to be handled through to resolution—helping improve the overall customer experience.
The power of exhaust data
Most people are familiar with the idea of GPS, but did you know GPS exhaust data has helped transform the global urban private transportation market?
The network of 24 satellites that make up the Global Positioning System (GPS) allows our mobile phones to navigate our position on earth. GPS data can be classed as exhaust data: data that’s generated as the by-product of using some digital service.
Here’s an interesting fact you may not have known. The founders of Uber were stuck in Paris on a snowy evening with no taxi in sight, so they decided to create an app to help find a ride more easily. They accomplished this by using the GPS data to locate a driver closest to a passenger - as long as both parties carried phones with GPS activated. Without owning a vehicle, Uber changed the for-hire ride service industry forever. There is an opportunity with exhaust data to upend industries.
How can we turn exhaust data into valuable insights?
Let’s continue our exploration with a driver of one such rideshare company.
Our driver wanted to understand what time of day would get the greatest return. However, as a driver, they didn’t have access to the APIs to pull the data from, and the rideshare company protects the dynamic pricing algorithm. Instead, they recorded the time-to-pickup, bonus payment, and fare, for each time of day and date. Then, with pen and paper, they were able to determine the times that would wield the greatest return for working. With simple analysis this driver created valuable insights for themselves.
Much like our driver, today’s software applications keep a log of what happens for diagnostic and troubleshooting purposes. Each time the system does something it records the activity, the date and time it happens, and the unique identity of that transaction. These logs are typically only examined when there’s a problem, which means that they are effectively exhaust data. However the information they contain is gold.
If we were to aggregate 12 months of transaction logs from every system used by a business process, it would create a lot of timestamp data. If we sort that data by the unique transaction ID, then we see how quickly processes are completed, and the steps that are taken for each process. Trends would emerge highlighting bottlenecks, or common processes that ended in a failed outcome.
This is the science of business process analysis—looking at the detailed steps in a process to find patterns, bottlenecks, and redundancies.
Turning exhaust data gold into profitability
Inefficient business processes aren’t new. Conversations with customer facing team members show they’re acutely aware of the problems. However, senior managers are shielded from the actual day-to-day pains because they look at reporting summaries.
Visualizing timestamp data by process exposes the actual delays, failures, and bottlenecks. This enables leaders to compare the standard definition of their process versus reality and pinpoint the differences in user behaviour that contribute positively or negatively to business outcomes.
Hubbl Process Analytics is a free Salesforce App that allows any Salesforce user to visualize and optimize their business process. It constructs intuitive visualizations, directly inside Salesforce, that enable users to understand the root cause of sales and service inefficiencies and drive real organizational change.