Using small devices, you can measure everything in your life. This data may provide insights you might not want to share with everyone, but life logging can be helpful, such as detecting and reducing stress in the workplace, blogs Edo Roos Lindgreen.
One of the buzzwords in the tech sector is ‘quantified self.’ This is also known as “life logging, but no one knows what this really vague term really means. In any case, it refers to how you can measure various aspects of your daily life. Consider how you can measure exercise with your heart rate or body temperature. Take this one step further and you can measure many things: what you eat and drink, how many cigarettes you smoke, the quality of the air you breathe, your body, your ECG, your pupil dilation, adrenaline, perspiration levels, blood count, brain activity and, of course, what you buy, search for, play, download and more. It is thought that all this data can be used to assess your behaviour or environment, whether you are in a comfortable seating position or if you can become more productive.
Personally, I have been walking with a Fitbit for a month. I know exactly how many steps I take each day, how many stairs I climb and how many times I turn in my sleep (on average 24 times). It’s a fun smartphone app. Its effect is greater than I thought. It encourages me to take the stairs instead of the elevator in an effort to move more. And it reassures me if I think I slept badly. When I know that I have slept six hours and 49 minutes, then I feel a lot better. The old adage ‘knowledge is power’ is true. My Fitbit teaches me about myself and is the secret to a healthier lifestyle.
This does bring up a huge privacy aspect about the ‘quantifiable self.’ That Fitbit will soon know everything about me, along with the NSA. I am not very concerned, but it is a terrifying thought that secret government organisations can track everything and share this information freely with others and have been tracking the human race for decades. Not to mention the social constraints that comes with the progress of technology: can you afford to opt out of this permanent form of self-measurement? Will your health insurance, your employer, your social environment require your consent? And what about those with lesser incomes or educational levels who cannot participate and then become unhealthy and potentially live shorter lives? The answer to these questions seems obvious to me, but we are not going to solve them here and hold up progress. Let’s try to use this technology in meaningful and safe ways: for example, to create happier colleagues.
Employee well-being is a hot topic in the HR sector: how happy and healthy are employees in their work space? According to many leading companies, employee happiness is more important than productivity or vague ’employee engagement’. We know that happiness and health can be impacted by higher levels of stress. We can use self-measurement to identify stress in employees as quickly as possible, analyse and then prevent or eliminate its causes.
This is the reason KPMG is carrying out a pilot with Arbo Unie, one of the largest medical providers in the Netherlands. In the coming year we will see a joint programme or a combination of health scans, self measurement data thanks to wearable technology, coaching and data analysis that can be used to create a select group of happier and healthier volunteers. In addition, we can measure movement, sleep and heart rate, and learn how the participants feel each day. The privacy of the participants is fully protected by medical confidentiality: only the physicians of Arbo Unie can access their personal data. KPMG analyses the data at the aggregate level. The purpose of the pilot is to gain and share this experience with others. If the approach is successful, we will offer these in the market. If it does not work, we will also let you know.
Author: Edo Roos Lindgreen, partner KPMG Advisory