RealityMine CTO Graham Dean talks behavioural data technology

Behavioural science People Technology

Graham Dean is Chief Technology Officer at RealityMine. He was the first software engineer to join the company in 2012 and helped build some of the first apps and server code. He now leads the R&D efforts to ensure RealityMine remains the technology leader in the industry.


In this Q&A, Graham shares a bit more about the evolution of the company as it’s grown, RealityMine’s behavioural data products and what’s in store for the future.

Tell us a little about your background, and what led you to work at RealityMine?

My background is in software engineering. I studied electronic engineering at university (back in the previous millennium, ouch) and developed and sold software in my spare time which helped pay my way through university. From around 2007, I specialised in mobile development, working for a couple of mobile software consultancies in the North West of England. In 2011, we had an idea of using an app on a smartphone to report actual user behaviour and that ultimately lead to RealityMine being formed.

You’ve obviously been with RealityMine since the beginning, how has the company evolved?

The early days were very exciting with plenty of late nights and last-minute fixes to build the business and keep the technology working as the scale increased. The camaraderie and atmosphere helped make this a fun, rather than scary, time. As the company has grown, we’ve matured all our processes and thankfully, we don’t have too many late nights or panics any more. The best thing however is that the camaraderie and company ethos remains just as it did from the early days. It still feels like working for a start-up, but one that’s learned to grow up, just a little.

What exactly is passive metering technology and how does RealityMine’s technology actually work?

It is software that runs on a phone, tablet, laptop or other device and is able to measure how the user is actually interacting with the device. This technology contrasts, or complements, a survey-based approach where users self-report their behaviour, which may not always be accurate (can you remember how many times you checked Facebook yesterday?). RealityMine passive metering tech can built into an app that users opt into installing and the technology monitors the users’ interaction with the device. Users are typically rewarded for their participation, dependent on the study they’ve joined.

Can you tell us a little bit about how your clients are using RealityMine’s technology?

Behavioural data is an increasingly important part of the researcher’s toolkit, with various applications such as audience measurement. It’s notoriously difficult for people to accurately recall and report what media they’ve been consuming. So, for example, we are helping power Ipsos Iris, the new digital measurement currency in the UK. Another use case is path to purchase studies. We live in a world where people have all sorts of touchpoints, both digital and offline, throughout their purchase journey. Clients like Nepa are conducting path to purchase studies for some of the world’s leading brands across multiple categories, for both digital and physical products. You can check out other examples on our website:

Privacy is obviously a big deal when you are capturing behavioural data, how does RealityMine stay on top of that?

The first step is to collect the minimum data required. RealityMine’s technology is extremely configurable and we only collect data that is required for a given study and that the user has explicitly opted into sharing. All behavioural data follows a process where it’s always encrypted in transit and at rest. Data is deleted once no longer required and individuals can request their own data to be deleted at any time. By following industry best practice, we were already well prepared for the introduction of GDPR and other similar regulations around the world. We continue to review our policies and technology with regular security audits, ISO 9001 and 27001 certifications.

What kind of technology innovations can we expect from RealityMine in the future?

The aim is always to help customers derive value from behavioural data. We are always working towards removing barriers in accessing behavioural data, making it more cost effective and easy to generate insight from. All without ever compromising on quality. So, expect further developments along these lines!

Lastly, if you could be anything, what would your dream job be?

I always dreamed of being an astronaut but I’m probably a little late to switch to that career now. It might be pushing it to say that working at RealityMine is my dream job, OK yeah, that is really pushing it, but it’s pretty cool to be able to play with the latest technology and work with a dream team.