Location Based Services (first published in Parramatta Business Access)
By Dexter Duncan
This article gives a brief overview of Location Based Services, including some business benefits and examples of some market leaders. The LBS market is still in the infant stage, but exploding to almost USD $13 Billion by 2014 (according to Juniper Research). Interestingly, the largest geographical market for LBS is Asia Pacific, with Japan and Korea leading the world. For businesses, this is a new channel to market and sell products/services with potential to build loyalty or improve efficiencies to your bottom line.
What is Location Based Services? Most of you are already using “Location Based Services” but probably do not realize it.
- The most basic LBS is the car GPS (Global Positioning System) for navigation or traffic updates. The same application has become common on iPhones and Android phones.
- Telstra released its’ Whereis® Everyone service in 2008, which gives you a free way of tracking your family and friends on a map. The service is used to give you an SMS alert when someone arrives at a preset location and is also used to find your lost mobile phone.
- Some of the other more common uses on current GPS includes list of nearby or on-route restaurants, shopping centres, ATM, petrol stations, schools, etc.
The two main technologies used to pin-point your location are GPS which uses satellites and Mobile “triangulation” technology which uses mobile phone towers.
The new entrants to LBS improve on above by adding games, rating systems, social network sharing and general comments based on location. Part of the reason for the growth of LBS is the combined popularity of social networking, smartphones and cloud computing, so you can say it is mostly a consumer based trend. The main barriers to entry are slow data on mobile phones which is why high speed internet and faster smartphones are important.
Many companies have jumped on this bandwagon, making it easy to download applications to your iPhone or Android. Facebook provides LBS through something called “Places”. Google has something called “Latitude” tracking your location to Google maps and allowing you to see other users, make comments and review restaurants in the area.
What are the Benefits of LBS?:
- Business to consumer benefits – Engage your customers & build loyalty:
- Give most frequent visitors status
- Give discounts
- Advertise specials
- Business to business benefits – Cost effective “off the shelf” tools to improve your service to other businesses.
- Track start/stop and arrival times – no need to install expensive hardware like “buddy” clocks or fingerprint scanners at each location
- Use metrics to improve service and show contract compliance.
Some Business to Consumer Examples: Foursquare® and Gowalla®
The most common example in use is for retail and food outlets to incorporate LBS into their marketing and loyalty programs. Two of the most common in this space are Foursquare and Gowalla. Foursquare already have more than 5 million users. Simplistically, they both combine location based games with social networking into some modern day loyalty programs for businesses. Instead of the barista clicking your coffee card at Gloria Jeans, it could happen automatically, but you could give greater attention to your most loyal clients or those that visit you the most over the last 30-60 days!
With Foursquare, someone with frequent visits at one or multiple locations earn “badges”, thereby entitling them to special privileges such as discounts or a special “reserved table” for certain badges. The person with most visits is crowned “mayor” until someone else surpasses them. All are tracked on a modern day smart phone.
With Gowalla, you have a ‘passport’ that allows you to collect stamps, pins or other virtual items (like coupons) based on locations visited. When you travel to different cities, states or countries, you collect different “pins” to show your achievements. You are also able to share photos and make comments on places your friends visit.
Some Business to Business ideas:
LBS can help you locate a staff member, truck or item and tell you if and when he/she/it arrived or how far away they are. Some interesting scenarios for Business to Business applications include:
- Cost effective solution for tracking your staff or equipment arrivals
- Location based information storage. Many need to fill out forms or report based on the location.
If you have a lot of staff and locations to track, LBS allows you to build an application that gives you real-time updates on a map. If a security guard, nurse or truckie does not show up, you’ll be able to take action before the client rings! Some scenarios:
- A nurse who goes to a different location each day/week to help others. LBS could let you know when they arrived and how long they stayed. You could even fill-out location specific forms that may be required such as medicine or progress reports.
- A security officer who attends different sites based on a contract or response to an alarm. LBS lets you know when security arrives and could provide a location specific report.
Call your local technology partner for more advice.
See our website for more:
About the author: Dexter Duncan provides marketing advice and heads marketing and business development at Empower IT Solutions. Contact Dexter at email@example.com
Location based services reach $12.7 Billion by 2014 according to Juniper Research
Phlanthr compares Gowalla vs Foursquare on their website. Below comparison is from Phlanthr on this link.