Software Usage Tracking by Large Companies
Ever wondered why such big companies like Microsoft, Google and Adobe are so prosperous? If you look back at their history, a lot of their releases were not successful at first. Yet today, they are the leading companies in the world and their products are used by millions of people. The secret lies in delivering the products in line with user expectations. Yet, how do they know what their users need? It’s all possible due to the detailed user-program interaction analyses, generated by large corporations, when they gather anonymous statistics about their software usage.
Famous Examples of Statistics Gathering
Microsoft has created Customer Experience Improvement Program. It collects information about how customers use Microsoft programs and what problems they encounter. Microsoft uses this information to improve the products and features that are mostly used by the customers. Participation in the program is voluntary. When a user decides to participate in the CEIP, his computer or device automatically sends information to Microsoft about how he uses certain products.
Google also constantly tracks the usage of its products. For example, Google uses information about the person doing the searching to make search results more relevant and to improve users experience with the search engine.
Google Chrome collects usage statistics and crash reports to personalize web ads and improve user experience with the browser. Participation in statistics gathering is voluntary and users can choose to send usage statistics and crash reports to Google. Google customers can turn off the statistics gathering option at any time.
With usage statistics and crash reports Google can diagnose problems with the browser, understand user-browser interaction, and improve its performance. Google Chrome strives to avoid sending any personal information that may reveal the user identity. It records valuable information about the browsing history, such as the URLs of the visited pages, cache files with text from those pages, searchable index of the most visited pages, cookies, record of user downloads. Information collected by Google Chrome is processed in order to operate and improve browser performance and other Google services.
Firefox constantly monitors individual user behavior in order to improve the visitor experience. It is optional and allows users to permanently opt out of online tracking. The most important reason for tracking is product improvement and advertising targeting, where advertising networks customize ads based on the user behavior across dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sites.
Another example of anonymous usage tracking is Adobe Product Improvement Program (APIP). It gathers valuable information about customer interaction with Adobe products. The program is voluntary and anonymous. Customers, who choose to participate in this program, share information about their operating system, processor, installed memory, product version number, and feature usage information, such as menu options or selected buttons. The collected information is used to better understand customer product usage and improve the Adobe products in the future.
SanDisk collects and analyzes anonymous usage statistics about its products. The primary purpose in collecting information is to provide customers with a positive and customized experience with SanDisk. The statistics gathering is voluntary and users can choose to participate when they first install the program. The company uses this information to customize, measure and improve its products and services.
Apple collects information regarding customer interaction with IPhone. This information is aggregated and used to help the company better understand customers behavior and improve products, services, and advertising.
Nullsoft also monitors the usage of Winamp in order to improve users experience with media player. During program setup users are asked to take part in anonymous usage tracking. Information collected by this functionality is used to operate and improve the services available through Winamp, to personalize the content and advertisements provided to customers and to conduct research about the use of Winamp.
JBoss Developer Studio provides a “Usage” plugin, which, when installed and enabled, gathers anonymous statistics about the way the JBoss Tools plugins are being used. All the data is gathered anonymously and can be disabled at any time. This statistics enables JBoss to find out how and where JBoss Developer Studio is being used, what OS versions are being used the most, what screen resolution users have and how often they start their workspace. This information helps JBoss continuously improve its products.
DAEMON Tools collects anonymous statistics about their products. This information helps to understand how exactly customers use the product and find possibilities for its improvement.
The Atlassian Connector for IntelliJ IDEA also collects information on the usage of the connector and sends the information to Atlassian. When the user opens his IDE with the connector installed, he is asked to participate in the collection of usage statistics. He can also change his decision later via the configuration settings. This statistics gathering enables Atlassian team to better understand the usage of the connector in order to develop better products.
Subclipse gathers anonymous statistics about the way Subclipse is being used. All the data is gathered anonymously and can be disabled at any time. The main purpose of statistics gathering is to find out how exactly the service is being used and to make a decision about software improvement.
Numerous examples prove that constant statistics tracking is an integral part of business success. It is crucial for making efficient decisions and creating products that will respond to users needs.