The Future of Location-Based Services is … Future Location!
Author: Israel Beniaminy
Location-Based Services (LBS) date back to prehistoric times, like before the iPhone. Today, they are everywhere. The Wikipedia page for LBS rightly states, “the question about LBS … is not what they are inside of but rather what they are not an active part of, and the answer is ‘very little.'” While the past has been impressive, there’s still great potential for LBS to do even more in the future.
In the consumer mobility world, you can find LBS in just about any social networking app. FourSquare is an example of an app built around location, but many other apps have added at least some location-based functionality as well as location-based search and location-based advertising, to name just a few.
In the enterprise mobility world, LBS serves many functions, with the potential to improve any application where it is important to know where someone or something is. The “someone” category often includes employees, customers, suppliers, contractors and any other role that is involved in how the enterprise delivers its own products or services. The “something” category might include vehicles, cargo, high-value equipment and inventory.
From the pervasiveness of LBS, we might think that it has covered all three dimensions of space, and this wouldn’t be far from the truth. However, this claim should lead us to ask about the fourth dimension – time. What would we get when we think not of “where” but “where and when?” If you noticed the spoiler on this post’s title, you know where this is going. It is the idea of moving from location (where is he/she/it now?) to future location (where will he/she/it be?).
Let’s revisit the world of enterprise mobility. For some workers like cable technicians, insurance assessors, delivery drivers, and lawn mowing services, the work day consists of a series of well-defined tasks which need to be performed at specific places and times. As you may imagine, performing these tasks has a lot to do with location.
To ease the pressures of a non-stop day, workers could be using intelligent software like ClickButler. This app can remind you as you’re driving towards your next service appointment that you’re going to get there within 15 minutes. It can also ask you whether you want to notify your customer that you’re arriving shortly. This is one of the simplest examples of thinking ahead to the location where you will be as well as the customer’s location.
There are even more opportunities for this idea in consumer mobility. For example, you can use a customer service app to verify that the customer is actually at the intended location, and if not, check if the customer can get there on time. You can also arrange a time and place for delivering required spare parts to mobile workers while they’re moving around to accomplish their tasks. And when hunger kicks in, it can even help two field service engineers meet each other for lunch at a time and location that is convenient for both their schedules.
Thanks to the magic of modern mobility, solutions to workforce management problems that arise throughout the day can be provided no matter where (and when) your workers will be.