Location on the rise
By Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings.
While geolocation through apps such as Foursquare on social networking sites such as Facebook is revolutionising the way we socialise and discover new places, it's an equally valuable tool for business, enabling a new approach not just to understanding customers, but offering a multitude of opportunities for forward-looking companies to enhance the way they do business.
"We have become used to checking in to caf'es, bars, restaurants, parks, offices and pretty much anyplace else. This has opened up a rich experience where friends can recommend places for you to go or things for you to do and see nearby. But why limit this to social networking? This technology is adding another dimension to the mobile marketing toolkit for businesses," explains Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings.
Retailers, for example, can offer not only store location information, but location-specific specials. Restaurants and caf'es can obtain real-time reviews and feedback. Even banks can benefit from this technology. And its uses are not limited to customer-facing organisations: real-time tracking of vehicles and merchandise is already commonplace.
"Geolocation can provide a fourth level of authentication in financial transactions - if your bank knows you live in Johannesburg and sees activity on your credit card in Cape Town, they can immediately check for fraudulent activity. Or, if your ATM card has been stolen, the banks could use geolocation to pinpoint the exact ATM machine where the thieves are trying to withdraw money. Similarly, real-time monitoring of merchandise has never been easier, and manufacturers or retailers can track exactly where an item or shipment is at any given time," Firth explains.
In fact, locally developed !Waytag has taken this type of location-based service to a new level. Providing a permanent geolocation address, a !Waytag can be used by individuals or businesses to offer a simple way of finding something or someone, and integrates with popular location-based services such as Foursquare. Privacy is not an issue, as !Waytag owners can choose where, when and with whom they share their information.
"Right now, geolocation apps seem to be mainly about fun. But as geolocation technology proves its usefulness in more business-oriented applications, such as those used by public safety and news-gathering professionals, logistics, etc, increasingly smart, convenient and enjoyable apps are changing the way we approach the issue of location. Understanding the spatial network of 'who' and 'what' in business is as necessary as 'where' and 'when' these days. If you haven't already looked at location-based services for your company, can you afford not to?" Firth concludes.