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Location based information have been a hot topic around the office and as a result we have spent a lot of time digging into the details of location based technology and analytics. We are always driven to look for new ways to collect information so we can measure and manage different aspects of our business, and beacon technology is just one more tool in our arsenal.

What is a beacon and why would I want to use it in my business?

Beacon technology is a low powered bluetooth device that while is "technically" an old technology has been repackaged as a new technology ton the market. The purpose of a beacon is to provide us information based on our physical presence. In a simple form it serves as a connector between where I am physically located with information on the Internet by sending a small message to a device that has the ability to receive it.

What are some of the limitations?

One of the biggest challenges with beacon technology is that it requires the device to have bluetooth enabled and have the application that can receive the message in memory. In plain terms, if you want somebody to use the technology, you need them to provide something useful to them to make them turn it on. It sounds easy, but adding value to an experience requires alot of work. While this technology has a number of consumer based applications, I think there is also a practical application of this technology within the enterprise. I will dive into that further later in this post.

What are some of the use cases for the technology?

If you have ever been to a large conference center and couldn't find the session you were supposed to be in, tried to find a bathroom for yoru screaming kids in a large mall , wandered aimlessly through a resort trying to find the pool, lost your car in a large airport parking lot,  or gotten lost in a Vegas casino while you tried to find your room.. You can see the value in having location aware applications navigate you to where you need to go. (aka a reason to turn the technology on so that you can get the information you want)  Location based beacons such as the Aruba Meridian system allow you to do this.

The second obvious application is for consumer engagement. Providing location based advertising services to drive additional revenue in a retail setting. Being able to offer an personalized customer experience that is unique to the individual and caters to their interests. The challenge I see with this is that unless this is tied to some form of customer loyalty program that gives me a discount, I don't see myself turning this technology on. I think this type of technology is really only valid on national chains and not especially useful for a small mom and pop retail outlet with a couple of locations.

Where I personally see this technology becoming a potential game changer is within the service industry. Where service companies can mark high value cusotmers with beacon technology to provide an amazing level of customer service and situational awareness no matter who shows up to do the work. This type of technology is available today and is relatively accessible to most busineses.

The value of information to your business.

The underlying reason for investing in this technology is that you ultimately want to understand your customer better. The data collected as they utilize these features provides valuable insight into their behavioural patterns which can ultimately help you to drive more engagement and revenue for your business. Getting the information you want is as much art as it is science, but in the end.. Getting you that information is why we are here.

Interested in location analytics? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Bryan Janz