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:)
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting to a group of ICT professionals at the Mercure Hotel hosted by Sead I.T. People. The presentation in the series of Sead Latest in IT Seminar was on Mobile Marketing.
Covering topics including the latest Gartner Hype Cycle predictions, Location and Proximity Based Marketing, Check-In Marketing, Mobile Computing, QR Codes, Business Intelligence using maps and the hot topic of the use of personal devices in a corporate market, there was something in it for everyone. Case studies illustrated not only practical use of technology, but professional processes to ensure that projects were well designed for success.
The presentation outlined the ongoing chasm between people in the ICT profession and their colleagues when it came to understanding and use of new technologies, particularly mobile and location based. I encouraged the audience ranging from consultants to CIO’s to consider how they can educate and encourage their companies to understand the new technologies and how they fit into their business frameworks. There are great opportunities for IT people to be welcomed back into the boardroom by working closely with the management team to show them how to implement and benefit from new technologies, safely and securely.
It was interesting to learn that O2 is now going to get into daily deals. They will be the first British Telco to enter this market and according to the Financial Times, they are going to invest £6 Million into their daily deals service with the expected participation of 3,500 high street brands. Shaun Gregory, O2’s managing director of media, said that their opt in process was going to be less clunky than that on Facebook and Foursquare etc. and would not require check ins. This effectively means it is not a location based service at all, but yet another spin on the Daily Deals I wrote about in my blog yesterday.
Ironically I and many other people in the telecommunications industries over the years have been trying to convince local telco’s to support payment for products via mobile, including vending machines, pointing out the enormous value in clipping the ticket on transactions. Probably about 12-15 years ago I was able to buy Coke from a vending machine at the local Ericsson office, but it was only ever a Beta service.
Amazon is also getting in on the act in the USA with Amazon Local which is yet another spin and hardly local given that it works in exactly the same way as the regional deals every other Daily Deal site offers, noting to do with check ins. It will at least support local businesses in the same way as other sites does with vouchers etc to be redeemed in local eateries and stores with the same debatable results. Amazon certainly knows the value of clipping the ticket as I mentioned in an older blog with a link to a Harvard Business Review Clip of John Donahoe explaining what his business model is, and I can tell you it is now selling books.
Eventually if you keep following this blog, I will get to the point of the value of using Location Based Marketing instead of Daily Deals. This is starting to seem a whole lot like the boring unimaginative reality TV shows that all the networks are rolling out. It’s much cheaper to imitate than to innovate and of course you are encouraging them by watching, because if you didn’t watch, then they wouldn’t be able to get advertisers to promote their daily deals businesses!
In an article at LBS Zone, LeClairRyan attorney Kevin D. Pomfret says businesses should step forward to educate Congress and executive agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the breadth and scope of location-based technologies, as well as the industry’s enormous potential.
This is something I have been saying for some time in past blogs. If we get Location Based Services applications right, they can enrich our lives in so many aspects. For example:
- B2C Marketing. I would welcome personal location based marketing, based on my location, time and interests. Tell me if there is a hot deal on a new guitar pedal or music software as I drive past a music store on a Saturday. My girls would love to be told there is a 2 for 1 coupon on the latest summer fashion as they walk past a shop and their colors and sizes are in stock.
- Health and safety. If one of my relatives is ill and needs medical help while on vacation, a blind or disabled person becomes disoriented, a diabetic travels and forgets their insulin, a car’s airbags deploy on a remote country road. These are all instances where consumers can be aided by LBS apps and help directed to them with ease.
- Entertainment. Rugby World Cup year starts in less than 24 hours in New Zealand. Wouldn’t it be great if people can sign up to services that know where in the country they are, what they are interested in and can guide them to other activities based on time of day, interest and location? It could be golf, a cultural performance, Happy Hour, a concert or music festival, you could opt in before hand with your interests so if you are a ballet fan, you don’t get guided to a Christian Death Metal Grunge Fest.
- The Road Trip. An application that provides car navigation, access to traffic information, entertainment, allows you to connect to your social networks, upload photos and blog, find ‘friends’ close to you and more.
We’ll see more of these in 2011, along with apps from Facebook, Google, Apple, Foursquare, Groupon, Twitter and hundreds of others. But what about the risks?
When you sign up for these applications, do you know who you are giving access to? Do you know whether you can opt out? Do you know of the service has the ability to delete your information if you decide to opt out. Often the services themselves don’t have that ability because Google and other services have cached it and even if they delete it, it still exists in other places.
It is a well know fact that criminal elements already use sites such as Facebook to identify people they want to commit crimes against. It might be that they want your car, your jewellery, your 65″ 3D TV, all the Christmas presents you displayed on your profile, or just to ransack your house. It may be nothing to do with you, as they say in the movies “Nothing Personal, this is business”.
You could follow this thread and think, this guy is anti LBS. Wrong, its how I make my living. I love it for what it can do for me and you. I just worry about how it can be used and believe it is incumbent on the developers to make the applications as safe as possible, to provide privacy controls and make sure people know how to use them. They might also want to consider liability insurance. I’ve heard of insurance claims by people who drove their cars into rivers because their nav told them to turn right. It won’t be long before there are claims from people saying that it is the fault of the social media location application, which indirectly told a car ring that their expensive sports car would be parked at the airport for 2 weeks.
The article that set me off on today’s blog was about educating politicians, something that needs to happen all over the world, because these applications go international very quickly. It is also necessary to educate the developers because they are focussed on what they want people to be able to do with their apps, not the inherent risks of uses they hadn’t considered. I often want my ‘friends’ to know where I am, but I don’t want people who are not my ‘friends’ to know where I am or where I am not.
This is not my first blog motivated by Pomfret. In September I wrote about Location Based Apps and Trust, prior to that Proximity Based Marketing and Trust, and a whole series of blogs around Who’s Looking at You on Facebook. In one of them I thought up a name at random, searched for someone with that name and found out a huge amount of information about the person. I found it to be very scary, what I could find out about that person. Add location to that mix now and it could become downright dangerous.
Of course the tables can be turned on crims as well as law enforcement agencies can use the same apps to find out what they are up to and where.
My road was recently recently resealed, well sort of. There is loads of loose metal on the sides of the road, tar is welling up through the metal and 3 cars in our household have had stones stuck with tar to our brake disks. I rang Auckland Council to ask when it was going to be finished and they said it was, but that they will look into it. That was 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard a thing since.
Then I read about Voice My View which is a project collaboration between five leading universities in the UK. The basic concept is to use a variety of media to allow the public to voice their opinions about their surroundings via mobile phones, strategically situated kiosks, social media and going forward with an application combining web, SMS and many other input media called Viewki, which includes features such as geocoding, clustering of comments and much more. This application is still in prototype but looks like a great innovation.
I hope they get past the prototype, this is something that Local Government all over the world should embrace. I note there is already an iPhone App available, which is good to see.
I just read a blog by Kevin Pomfret, Executive Director of the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy, about the decision of Craigslist to pull it’s Adult Services section after finding out that people had been using it for prostitution and trafficking of women and girls. He suggested that people developing geolocation applications needed to also consider privacy of users in the same way.
I totally agree. Already there are many anecdotal stories of people using Facebook and other stories to target empty homes. One story in Mail Online called Facebook a shopping list for burglars. It went on to suggest that insurance companies might increase the risk profile of clients who have social networking accounts.
Now of course we have Facebook Places, which starts by checking the city your IP Address is based in and then invites you to let it know exactly where you are. There are bound to be loads of Facebook applications for mobile that will use the GPS in your phone to check exactly where you are. Great for stalkers who want to find you and for others who want to know where you aren’t and such as when you are not at home.
For more on this, check out my blog on Who’s Looking at you on Facebook?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am totally into location based services. I just want to make sure that people understand what they are getting into when they start using them. An application I really like is foursquare. It has rewards for people who use it such as points and badges. You can see where your ‘friends’ are, which is great if you want to catch up with them. I recommend if you do that, you make sure you actually know and trust your ‘friends’.
As foursquare starts to work towards monetizing, a good thing to do for application developers:) they are now selling advertising and encouraging locations to offer deals based on proximity. For example, if you become Mayor of a location you can get special deals. If you are Mayor of Auckland Airport for example, you can get free entry into the Koru Lounge. The cool thing about that is that the advertiser doesn’t have to know who you are and has no way of knowing who you are unless you tell them.
That’s one of the places I want to go with proximity based marketing. I would like to see Happy Hour applications and be offered deals based on product segments I’m interested in, at times when I am not only in proximity, but also when I am open to an offer. Offer me a 2 for 1 deal at a bar on a Friday evening, but not on a Monday morning. Give me the ability and an incentive to invite my friends, but I don’t want the advertiser to to have access to my friends details unless they want to provide them.
Opting in and informed consent is crucial for location based marketing. There is a Code of Practice for Direct Marketing in most countries. Proximity Based Marketing is even more important and for applications to become accepted, we need to be able to trust that our privacy and security is protected. This is particularly important for children and young adults who could easily be targeted by dangerous criminals.
Informed consent is a key issue here. Most people don’t read End User License Agreements. Do you know the rights you have bestowed on Microsoft when you open Microsoft Office? Did you read them, or did you just tick the box and start using it. In the Windows 7 EULA it says “b. Use of Information. Microsoft may use the computer information, accelerator information,
search suggestions information, error reports, and Malware reports to improve our software and services. We may also share it with others, such as hardware and software vendors.”
If you use any application, especially a location based application, you need to clearly understand what privacy it allows you and what your potential risks are. More on this in the future. In the meantime, the onus is on the application developers to protect the interests of the users if they want to encourage them to use their applications.
When The Hyperfactory started in mobile marketing, they got together with advertising agencies and other interested parties and formed a wireless marketing association. One of the first things the association did was to form a voluntary code of practice. I believe the same thing needs to happen for location based applications and quickly.