Taking Beacon Applications to the Next Level: Think Personalization, Productivity and Revenue

Posted by Taylor Haney on Mon, May 5, 2014

We are very excited to kick off our next guest blog theme for the month of May! This month we will be talking about mobile and our first post is from Brian Wilson, CTO at Kinvey. Brian discusses how location is changing consumer and corporate mobile experiences.

Brian WilsonBrian has over 13 years’ experience building large scale, mission critical software systems for enterprises. As CTO of Kinvey, he is responsible for guiding innovation and product direction for Kinvey’s Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) platform. Recently, Brian has focused on supporting next-generation beacon experiences through Kinvey. Twitter: @EchoAbstract

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are providing new challenges for mobile app developers and businesses. Apple’s iBeacon technology is currently leading the pack for all BLE beacon devices with widespread availability and Apple’s user UX focus. At Kinvey, we’ve been taking a look at building applications with iBeacon technology - to kick things off, let’s look at some use cases for iBeacons in several different scenarios.

Today, beacon “1.0” applications are largely marketing-focused. As they mature, beacon applications will become more sophisticated and will begin to improve business processes, reduce costs, and even drive new revenue sources. The examples below paint a not-too-distant picture of these kinds of beacon applications in action.

May I Help You?

Most of today’s use cases center around various retail implementations. There is good reason for this: facing competition from online and mobile shopping, brick and mortar stores need an extra edge to engage customers during the in-store experience.

iBeacons selectively placed around a store allow retailers to leverage dwell time and repeat visits to understand customer behavior. For example, if a customer is milling around in the same area, a store can infer that this customer might need assistance and dispatch a team member towards the customer. Also, by tracking how many times a customer returns to the same beacon area and dwells there, a store can detect when a customer is indecisive about a purchase and can either provide a special deal or a salesperson to close the deal.

kinvey blog postWelcome Home

While most use cases for iBeacons involve a vendor/customer relationship, beacons can be effectively embedded in other products to seamlessly integrate a digital experience with a physical one.

By having beacons in your lighting, your entertainment systems and even in your heating and cooling systems, your home automation apps can ensure your house reacts to your presence. While the number of home automation apps is exploding, these apps have traditionally been limited in both the user experience and in their knowledge of your behavior. Beacons now allow these apps to seamlessly know when they're near the systems they're controlling, allowing the physical environment to react to a person's presence.

Checking In

Industrial facilities can also leverage beacon technology as part of their technology strategy. Using tablets and phones to accomplish traditional "clip-board" tasks increases compliance and reduces costs, but is only the first step. Leveraging location and wearables, industrial sites can reduce the time employees take to complete tasks and increase the safety and repeatability of those tasks.

Using smart glasses technology, an employee performing an hourly check can access the reference image of the equipment being inspected and take a picture to verify the correct configuration. Adding beacons to the equipment allows the wearable to always have the correct media for the inspection, and allows the company to verify the time the inspection was made. If the duration of an inspection is too slow, the employee can be given extra training or the company can use innovative tactics like gamification to increase the inspection speed.

Transforming experiences with location

The coming beacon revolution is all about transforming consumer and corporate experiences making them more personal, more effective and more about the user. By leveraging the user's proximity to a physical location, beacons tie the digital experience back to the physical world. Users regain a sense of place allowing them to feel more engaged and more attached to the physical space, while companies regain physical knowledge about their users and employees. The net result of a good beacon strategy is a win for both the business and the user.