Insights From Christian Nielsen
Mobile Strategist at Nodes UK, developer of enterprise-level mobile apps
When Apple introduced the iBeacon technology back in 2013, it was projected to revolutionize many industries around the world, especially brick-and-mortar retail. However let’s be honest. Looking back, iBeacon has not yet become the projected blockbuster people hoped for. But is the iBeacon technology dead?
First let’s be absolutely clear: iBeacon is alive and well. It’s true, however, that initial projections were off. Not the first time in history that has happened.
Without diving deep into the analysis of why, I believe the fact Apple never really promoted the protocol after its launch has a lot to do with it. As with all other technologies, success depends upon adoption in the marketplace, and industry leaders can create new standards almost at will. In this case, Apple didn’t really try and instead left iBeacon's fate to third parties.
This means that iBeacon has been growing in niches, where purposeful conceptualization and implementation have become strong perquisites for value creation.
I’ve been working in mobile agencies for the past four years. My experience has lead me to believe that iBeacon will find its revival in the enterprise because of one main reason: it’s far easier to determine the business case beforehand. Allow me to explain.
Unlike retail or customer-facing apps and campaigns, enterprise use cases don’t need to worry about uptake, penetration rates, and metrics. There’s no struggle with heavy marketing or pushing customers to download an app.
So in what contexts can iBeacon generate value and be exceptionally easy to integrate? Instead of pushing for engagement, enterprises will be using beacons and beacon-based apps because they are able to determine the business benefits, e.g. efficiency gains, cost savings, etc., with a fair amount of certainty beforehand.
Imagine a facility service company that takes care of cleaning, security, and janitorial tasks. In these buildings, overnight security guards need to document presence checks at various points throughout the building. I imagine that key-activated checkpoints could easily be replaced by a smartphone app and iBeacon because such solutions can be made more interactive and deliver more precise data - they’re also potentially cheaper to install.
Or consider how cleaning personnel report to various locations to record facilities that needs fixing. A smartphone app combined with iBeacon could easily deliver this information and prompt staff to report broken assets and determine urgency.
These are just two examples where I see iBeacon making a difference within facility services where the company can easily evaluate their business case based on certain routines. You can probably think of several other examples where iBeacon and apps can create value in relation to enterprise mobility.
I, personally, have experienced an increase in companies who want our help exploring how mobile can help them build a stronger enterprise.
I don’t wish to create huge projections for iBeacon in enterprise, but the increase in demand that I experience for enterprise solutions - a demand solidified by Apple’s deep step into enterprise with IBM, SAP, Deloitte, and Cisco partnerships - makes me a firm believer that enterprise mobility will create a revival for the iBeacon technology.