What are the particular benefits of Activity Data?

Activity data is special on account of the way it is collected and the nature of the evidence
  • It is derived in real time, automatically and effortlessly (once the systems are set up - such as tills in a supermarket or analytics for a website)
  • It represents a particular type of evidence - relatively undeniable (it really happened) and authentic (compare a user survey about activity)
  • It can be collected at scale - unlike traditional mechanisms such as surveys and interviews
  • It can be combined - potentially opening up complex narratives could not otherwise be readily captured or analysed
However we should be aware that activity data tells its own particular lies - we can never be certain who a person is or why they browsed a series of pages or whether they even intended to read the book they borrowed. Activity data is just part, but a special part, of the range of evidence available to businesses (and potentially to the users themselves) about the user experience, alongside such a surveys, interviews and counselling.