Last Saturday I spoke at the London School of Economics’ Retail, Media and Technology Conference to share Mubaloo’s experience with beacon technology. As an event focused on emerging tech, I was keen to share real world commercial use cases of the technology and how beacons can be leveraged to transform both business process and the digital consumer experience.
Compared with two years ago the beacons market, along with associated use cases, have started to mature. Previously, we would see brands looking to create stand alone gimmick applications that offered no value to the end user, beyond spamming them with notifications. It was the equivalent of receiving junk mail direct to your mobile device.
We constantly saw use cases emerging as brands were keen to use the new technology to get ahead, instead of using the new technology to solve real problems.
A key point during the discussion was how challenges could be addressed through the use of technology, instead of inventing a use case just to try out the latest new technology, in this case beacons. Innovation should be driven by delivering value to a user.
An enterprise problem, with beacons as the solution
We recently worked with a large train operator to deploy over 200 beacons across stations in London. One of the main challenges for the rail operator was mitigating against, or preventing incurring fines across the rail network.
Auditors carry out inspections to report broken assets or cases of vandalism on stations. Previously these audits involved laborious checks at each station the train line serviced, inspecting ticket machines, lighting, graffiti etc. This was a paper based process and would take 4 to 5 hours per station on average. Train operators also faced compliance issues as auditors would often not visit all locations across the station, as this involved carrying around a large file of paper assets. This would mean they would complete some of their audit at their desks. Audits not carried out properly, or issues not detected early, would result in substantial compliance fines being issued to the rail operator.
Solution? We used beacons to identify micro locations at each station, enabling auditors to complete checks with the aid of a custom built app and beacon technology. Using an iPad, the app automatically detects the micro location of the auditor, as the auditor steps into a beacon’s range and presents the relevant assets to be audited in that location.
The result? Audit times have been reduced down to 3 hours on average; minimal admin time is required, as the audit data is entered directly into the app; incidence of human error has been reduced; faults are reported and resolved more quickly and the number of compliance related issues have been reduced, as the app ensured audits were completed correctly.
Evolving use cases in advertising
As the use of beacons in location based advertising has increased, so has the sophistication of the use cases. For example, we worked with a large telecommunications provider to shape a campaign around intelligent context.
What is intelligent context? This is the idea that if I know the user’s micro location in the physical world, I can then query CRM databases or analytics data to surface information about that user, in order to provide content and messaging that is more targeted or personalised to them. This increases the likelihood of a successful engagement or interaction as the content will be relevant to the user’s location and their specific interests or preferences.
I also shared the work the Mubaloo Innovation Lab is doing in this space with our MiBeacons Platform.
It was fantastic sharing some of my experience of working with beacon technology with the LSE audience. I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak to such an engaged group of people supporting technology’s key role in business.
By Tom Barbour, Senior Project Manager
Tom Barbour is a senior project manager at Mubaloo and product manager for Mubaloo Innovation Lab. Tom has overseen the creation of the MiBeacons Platform, in addition to working closely with global companies to deliver innovative mobile products.