Google Glasses and dozens of other brands of Augmented Reality goggles hit the road running for Christmas 2013 and over the next couple of years AR applications went from Wow to business as usual. Today people look at you sideways in many cities if you aren't wearing glasses. But there has been a downside. People can't bear to be without them.
Our water bill has shot up in recent times, we had a leak repaired in November and it settled down to its new high, but January went nuts to the level of a 6 person household. Ours is 3. We couldn’t understand why, but it hurt, especially on top of the new increases in water fees on the North Shore in Auckland. Last week we finally discovered a new leak right by the water mains and on 8 February we called Water Care Services.
The call center staff were very friendly and said it would probably take 3 working days for someone to come and check it out. While we were waiting for this visit a lot of water went down the drain. A neighbor had a similar problem and Water Care sent them a contractor to check out the problem.
On The 13th I rang again and asked what was happening. They put me on hold, came back and said I was in a priority queue. I was pleased that something was happening. I asked if the contractor could ring when they were coming and I was put on hold again and she said that was fine, they would ring when they were on the way. I told her I was working from home on the 14th, so that would be great. I had a plumber booked for the 14th in case the problem was on our side.
No one came to our house on the 14th, but a Water Care contractor went to a similar problem about 4 doors down the road. My next door neighbor asked them if they could have a look at my problem while they were there. He said he would look into it. He didn’t. I postponed the plumber.
I rang the Water Care call center again on the 14th and they explained that the contractor couldn’t look at our place because he didn’t have access to the works order for it. She said someone would be there before 11 on the 15th and they would call before coming as requested.
I worked from home again on the 15th, wanting to be there when the contractor came. At around 11:30 I went to the letter box, the area around the meter box was very muddy and water was coming out of the mains box in much greater volume than before. In the letter box was a note from a company called Lend Lease saying “SUSPECT YOU HAVE A PRIVATE LEAK”
I contacted the plumber who is unavailable for another 3 days and now we walk backwards and forwards to the water main, turning it on and off as required. The plumber said to us that there appear to be many instances in the area of higher pressure in the pipes (due to increasing water supply capacity works for the new Long Bay subdivisions and other growth in the area) causing leaks.
So a couple of questions for you and Water Care. How is it that you can send 3 contractors to the same street in the same street in different instances and you don’t have the technology in the 21st century to identify that there are other jobs that could be done at the same time? Sending a van out from wherever and back 3 times must be quite expensive (a bit like my water bill). If that happens 3 times in one week, just in my street, how much extra does it cost. Calls like mine to the call center which had local sounding people (which must be pretty big, because I never spoke to the same person twice), Maybe half an hour of time. Calls from them to contractors, another 15 minutes. Processing multiple works orders, maybe 20 minutes. 3 trips from vans to my street, with driving time, probably an hour each. That’s a lot of ratepayers money. It’s also a lot of wasted water, are the dams overflowing after this dry summer, that we can afford to waste it?
Does Water Care Services have sustainability KPI’s?
I’m starting to understand why Water Care charges so much. I know they have a geospatial database, one would assume they have a good CRM. Hopefully they will give me a rebate on the excess water for January and February, which I can apply to the plumber’s bill. I’m looking forward to having him fix the problem in a couple of days time.
I am wondering if other people have had similar experiences? Please feel free to leave a comment. By the way I am not a whingeing stirrer, I give credit where it is due to, for example my recent blog about AA Insurance, who provided me with fantastic service after someone dinged my car in a car park and took off. The thing is, I am a ratepayer, I am paying massive amounts of money for water and waste-water and I suspect that with better management or systems, I could be paying a whole lot less.
Drought and grass fires have pushed the price of hay to near records, making it an increasingly irresistible target for thieves or desperate peers.
The hay may only be worth $200-$300 but it's feed and the livestock are depending on it. I have had many discussions with companies supporting farmers, but this is a first, although very logical one.
I’ve been engaged in a conversation in a mobile marketing group LinkedIn discussion where people involved in solutions such as mobile coupons are complaining that retailers are intellectually lazy and not looking to embrace new technology.
I argued that most retailers focus on BAU (Business As Usual), working in their business employing strategies and technologies they have used for years, which they understand and can deal with. They do not spend anywhere near enough time working on their business, including strategies to embrace new technologies.
Many retailers have been hurt by one-day deal companies, where they gave up 50% and more in GP in the hope that if they gave great service, they would win new loyal customers. Of course we now know that didn’t work and the only ones that made big money out of it were one-day deal companies. They didn’t have to invest in inventory or carry any risk to speak of.
I’ve presented at a number of conferences on the topic of mobile and location based marketing. What I found really sad was that of all the delegates, the number of retailers at these events could generally be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I’ve been looking at how I could help retailers, particularly in New Zealand and Australia with solutions available today in a cost effective way. I think I have come up with a solution, but its going to take me a fair amount of time and money to deliver.
I will start in the area of Travel and Tourism, largely because they are more focussed on customers who are actively looking for services and new experiences and the industry is used to investing to win new business. Their market is also tough and the traditional business services continue to largely support those who own the systems, ie reservation engines, directories, commissions to tour operators, rather than retailers themselves. These businesses are easier for me to access and easier to quantify direct ROI. Also the individual transactions often have a higher dollar value, so if I can demonstrably increase their cashflow and profit and share in the gain, I can recover my costs more quickly.
I was thinking about how hard it is to get retailers out of the shop to talk to them and from years of calling on owner operator retailers in the past, trying to talk to them in their own environment with customers in store, that’s all but impossible.
So I’m thinking retail readers, if there are any here, and would welcome your feedback on the best way to get in front of you and your peers. The problem is that most of them will never read this. The majority do not attend retail conferences, they don’t even participate in their own main-street organisations. They don’t even do something as simple as co-promote their neighbours. I remember years ago hearing Mark Blumsky (past retailer and Wellington Mayor) talk at the New Zealand Retailers Association conference about how he collaborated with his neighbours by giving away free coffee coupons at the next door cafe to people who bought shoes from him and the cafe gave discount coupons for shoes to their patrons. Leading retailers (because they were at the conference) all talked about it during the lunch and coffee breaks, but I don’t know if a single one of them ever emulated the exercise.
We have amazing free services such as Foursquare and people have probably used one of these apps to check into your store. They may even be your Foursquare Mayor, but you probably don’t even know what Foursquare is.
You need to embrace mobile technology and I want to help. But you’re probably not reading this, so you will have to wait until I have helped some other people first. If you are reading this, leave a comment, connect with me and others who want to see Australasian retailers thrive and grow in this exciting new world. Learn at your own pace, but please step outside of BAU and do something. One little step a day is 365 steps a year and that’s quite a lot.
I’ve just read an article by Hugo Garcia of Futures Lab in Portugal in the latest issue of The Futurist. He was outlining how younger people today are more mobile, more focussed on consuming goods, services and experiences, rather than being attached to things and places. One area that he was strong on was the fact that people are now so mobile and keen to explore the world and their environments.
Location becomes far more important because you are continuing moving around as opposed to tied to a fixed location in the world. He said that one example is the trend towards not owning a home, perhaps ever. I always hear talk about how hard it is to get into property, I don’t think it has ever been easy. When we bought our first home (to give ourselves and our children some long term security) we bought in a cheap neighbourhood and at one stage were paying in excess on 20% interest. For a couple of years in the beginning, we went without pretty much anything, just to pay the interest. Today many don’t want to restrict their lifestyle, making it a choice, their choice is to live for today.
The ‘office’ is for many people today, especially knowledge workers, not somewhere we need to be a lot of the time and the cost of maintaining an office, commuting, car parking (you could almost rent a room for the cost of my Auckland City car park). We go to the office when we need to, for meetings, teamwork etc, but otherwise I can be much more productive from my home office.
Hugo talks about shared mobility. This is not a new concept, but certainly one that is coming back with a vengeance. Back in the 1960′s the Provos introduced white bikes that anyone could use. The idea was that you grabbed a bike, rode it to where you wanted to go and left it there for the next person to use. Their concept, same as today was to reduce pollution and traffic congestion and promote community engagement. They were certainly engaged as very quickly the bikes were stolen and repainted, but the idea was very good.
Today carpooling continues to grow, Zipcars, recently purchased by Avis, which is currently being debated as to whether it was an anticompetitive manoeuvre, is an example of car sharing, which in principle makes a lot of sense. People share ownership in boats, holiday homes and other items and many people are travelling around the world using the services of portals like Airbnb. There are loads of companies sprouting up like Whipcar, which lets you rent out your own vehicle when you don’t need it.
Globalisation is also an area that is changing rapidly. I remember reading history books about the great depression and how people moved from town to town looking for work. Mobility today is something far more international and international borders are being crossed continually by people in search of work, whether it is because they can’t find it at home, want a better life, or simply enjoy the itinerant lifestyle. Over a million Kiwis are working and living overseas, while British and other nationalities are moving to New Zealand to work on projects such as the reconstruction of Christchurch.
Hugo points out there are pro’s and cons. “Unfortunately, some areas may become abandoned because they lack competitive advantages. The war for talent between countries will increase, but regions that offer good living conditions may gain an advantage.
I note again that knowledge workers, one of the biggest industry segments today can often work from anywhere and travel when required. I know many journalists and developers that live in small towns for the lifestyle, but can still perform on a global stage.
This mobile society opens up huge scope for innovation and disruption, particularly with location based services, applications for mobile use, which can support the new mobile lifestyle. Kiwi developers can and are developing applications used globally, despite those that say you can’t be successful unless you are in Silicon Valley, things are changing. The money may be there, but they don’t have a monopoly of good ideas.
If anyone knows about a mobile lifestyle its Kiwis, anywhere is a long way from New Zealand. We know how to travel, we absorb and learn and we love new technology. Where we need help is harnessing our smarts, to help our innovators and entrepreneurs to learn how to scale and think big. That’s a tough ask and I don’t think our Government is doing anywhere near enough to ensure that smart people are able to grow from small concepts to large global enterprises.
I was just asking myself how I suddenly got on my soap box, but then I’m not sure I ever get off it:)
The bushfires are raging in Australia, temperatures are breaking records daily and the traditional hottest months haven't even arrived yet. Meanwhile Imersia has been developing a technology that can reduce stress, improve efficiencies, information flows and potentially save lives in future.
It seems ironic watching this BBC News clip after watching a story on BBC News a couple of nights ago claiming that global warming is slowing down when…
Hey folks and valued readers. It has been a few days since I posted and I just wanted to let you know that there have been some changes in my career, but that I am still around and will continue to share my thoughts and interests in this blog.
After 8 years it was time for a move from Geosmart and I have now joined a relatively new company called Imersia as CCO. Imersia was founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs Dr Roy Davies and Jon Lowther, a couple of very clever guys with ideas about the world we live in and the world we want to live in, similar to mine.
In a nutshell we are working in location based services, mobile, Augmented Reality, proximity based marketing, GPS and more across a wide variety of industries with a local flavour, i.e. the business is based in New Zealand and we would like it to stay that way if possible, but a global focus. Effectively I am walking the talk, I have spent many years consulting and evangelising, I’m still doing that, but also much more on the creating side, at least from a company perspective, I’m not a developer myself.
So stick around, don’t delete your RSS feed because I still have lots of exciting ideas, if I say so myself, about leading the way into the future we want, from a technology perspective, but also about the kind of world we want for our families and future generations, cool toys and business tools as well as a safe and sustainable environment. I am ever the idealist.
New Zealand is full of clever people and I am hoping we can enable more of them to take part in the global stage. I’m keen to see some new names appear in the lists of Kiwi innovators contributing to our GDP and being supported by our Government. I love names like Tait Electronics (I spent 7 happy years working for them), Gallagher Electronics and Fisher & Paykel, but isn’t it time for some new kids on the block?
Watch this space:)
Nestle in the UK has come up with a very cool imho marketing campaign. They are putting GPS chips in the wrapping of 6 food bars such as Kit Kats and when they are opened / activated, within 24 hours they vow to track down the chips, send in the commandos to find, and possibly scare the hell out of the people who bought them and give them 10,000 pounds.
This is a very cool use of location based technology that will fire up marketing people and those into location based marketing like me big time. CNET says that this campaign will appeal to men and perhaps they are not usually the target market for chocolate. In this case I suspect sales will go through the roof and while this campaign hasn’t yet gone seriously viral, I’m sure it will. It is also likely to be winning awards as TV cameras from around the world follow the commandos to the lucky people receiving the prizes.
Just as well they are using TVC’s and billboards with NFC and QR Codes to promote this campaign or people will be thinking that a new war has broken out.
Location based marketing is going to play a major role in our lives going forward and those who are in early will reap rewards by standing out from the crowd. This certainly puts a new spin on guerrilla marketing.
If I had a dollar for each time I get asked this question I would be able to retire. I have blogged about this before, but it is certainly time for an update, particularly with some of the stories I’ve seen in the media recently, which have either been advertorial or blaming GPS for sending people off the road.
Some people see car navigation as a cool toy, or think that they are all pretty much the same. Instead think about what you need it for. Going skiing? Picking up the kids from somewhere you haven’t been before on a wet, dark winters evening? Trying to get to an important business meeting on time, finding your hotel or the nearest ATM? Are you a geek, or do you need something that is basic and easy to use?
Car navigation today offers a myriad of options from mobile smartphone applications through PND (Portable Navigation Devices) to in-car devices that are factory installed. The most important things to look at are the currency and accuracy of the map data and points of interest information. It doesn’t matter how cool it is if the information is inaccurate or out of date.
NZ Automobile Association subsidiary GeoSmart has a NZ based team driving and updating maps full-time with 4 major updates every year for a number of car navigation brands, and maps roads to sub .5 meter accuracy. Have you ever been told to go to the nearest road when you are on it? This includes important things like having accurate speed zones to warn you when you are over the speed limit, school zones, current Points of Interest and safety cameras.
Traffic congestion is here to stay and it’s not just in the cities. Real time traffic is a powerful navigation tool to find alternate routes when available and with brands such as TomTom offering HD Traffic in connected devices (PND, iPhone and iPad, and in-car systems), real-time traffic is available throughout all of New Zealand where you can receive a mobile phone signal.
Whilst traffic is a major urban problem, this winter has already seen hundreds of road closures due to slips, accidents, flooding and more, most of them outside the major cities. Many people don’t think outside of the city until they get stuck.
When there is a weather bomb the AA Roadwatch website can have up to 100,000 page views in a day and that’s before people even get in their cars. Some brands and devices only offer traffic information via RDS-TMC broadcast radio in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, which has limited capacity for the amount of information it can send due to bandwidth restrictions and of course if you are driving outside of those cities, it can’t help you.
This technology was launched in NZ by GeoSmart back in 2006, but now they can stream live traffic and congestion data every two minutes across all of NZ via a mobile network, this means that you are fully informed of the road conditions for some 97% of the road network of NZ.
When people ask what is the best GPS, there is no correct answer. There are many great products and it comes down to when and where you want to use them and what information matters to you.
They start with ‘free’ products on Smartphones. These may provide routing, but are unlikely to have information such as speed zones, lane guidance, turn restrictions or have the latest map data. They generally don’t have the maps loaded into the phone which means that every single map image and set of instructions has to be downloaded as you go and this can add up to a significant cost on your mobile data account. Recent research in Europe has shown that often adding the data costs result in ‘free’ being much more expensive than buying an app or a device where the maps are stored locally.
There are paid apps for Smartphones and tablets including products such as Metroview NZ City Maps which gives you one NZ city or region for $9.95 with full car navigation and the maps on your device, to TomTom which offers effectively the same experience as you would get on a TomTom device, even with real-time traffic, funny voices and even social media location-based apps. Obviously a benefit of a mobile app is that your mobile is always with you and you don’t need to have multiple devices.
There has been a price war in recent times with portable devices and you can purchase devices from as little as $100. Keep in mind that generally you get what you pay for. To put a device out at really cheap prices, something has to be sacrificed. Some products state that they will give you “up to” 4 map updates a year (which could mean just one) where others will “guarantee” 4 map updates per year. Are they up to date with changes such as speed zones, new roads, State Highway realignment, the Auckland SH1 tunnel and viaduct switch, new suburbs and subdivisions?
On the matter of updates, how do you get them? How easy are they to install?
Try the device in-store with roads you know have changed. Entry level doesn’t have to mean inferior but it pays to understand what you need from it. We are also starting to see larger screens on portable devices up to 6 inches, which is great for trucks or people with poor eyesight.
The future of car navigation is a connected device, whether it is a mobile smartphone, a PND that contains a SIM card and is always connected, with the ability to do location-based search, social media and location-based check-ins and look for live car park availability, entertainment and events, or a device that comes factory fitted in your car, also has a SIM card and has the ability to tell emergency services that you have had an air bag deployment and can provide your location.
This market is evolving all the time. Next time you look at buying a nav unit or application, think about the last time you needed help. Were you in a hurry? Did you get stuck in traffic? Do you travel outside of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch? Think about an area that you know has changed recently, for example the Victoria Park Viaduct over-bridges southbound or the tunnel going north. When the Wellington Street on-ramp is open again onto the Northern Motorway, would you like to know about it? Have you arrived at a motorway on-ramp only to find it is closed for maintenance? How did you feel? Did it matter? Did you know how to get to another ramp that was open?
GPS units aren’t all equal. Try a unit before you buy. Don’t just read what it says on the packaging (or at least read the fine print carefully), ask someone who has one if they would buy the same product again. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the freedom to go wherever you want via the best route at that specific point in time, to be able to relax and enjoy a stress free journey.
Do you have a car nav story? Did it help you on a trip? Are you happy with your purchase?