Innocent feature tracking can quickly turn into unacceptable user behavior monitoring, user profiling and a money-spinner for a company. Here’s how.
When it comes to tracking feature usage of a product, there are two extremes.
At one end, there is the idea that the user’s activities are ultimately private; that the user has the right to their privacy, that a company should not actively monitor which features of the product the user favors.
At the other extreme, there is the approach of monitoring each and every action that the user takes within a product, recording their behavior, and using it to streamline the processes for the user, even remove unused features to reduce maintenance.
In between, it’s a grey area.
As someone working in a software company, it is very easy to see the benefits of knowing what features of your product the users are actually using, or whether one version of a feature is more easily understood than another. Aside from the possibility that you might remove a feature simply because your users are unable to find it rather than not wanting it, it also ushers in the problem of how to respect the privacy of your users.