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We touched on beacons in our previous blog, but I want to delve a little deeper on the rise of beacon technology and provide some industry examples. So, what is a beacon? A beacon uses wireless access points that produces Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) signals which are then sent to mobile apps that provide the location of a customer. Merritt Maxim, senior analyst at research firm Forrester says, “Certainly the technologies (beacons) are maturing, and there is growing industry support behind it”. So, we should be prepared to see beacon technology implemented everywhere. Did you know that mobile phones, tablets and even PCs can function to perform as beacons as long as they support Bluetooth low energy?

Where will we soon see beacon technology?

Beacons in Transportation.

Jason Werther, Senior Director for digital customer experience at Amtrak.com is looking at using beacon technology to update passengers on Amtrak trains as they get closer to the station. Currently passengers receive alerts through browser or a mobile app. However, as technology is getting better, Werther will look to provide passengers with alerts automatically using a “omni-channel experience”. For the users, this makes life easier as they will not have to open the application to get these alerts or even have to search for Wi-Fi spots.

Furthermore, beacons could offer an alternative to scanning tickets when boarding an Amtrak train to prove they have paid. They will be able to scan their ticket once, when they board and with the help of beacons, ticket inspectors will be able to track if a customer who has paid has moved seats. Amtrak believe that this technology will help improve the safety of travel. Imagine a train derailing or even crashing, you would want to know how many passengers are on your train and where everyone is. With this technology, Werther says that they will be able to send emergency staff to where it is needed in case of emergencies.

Beacons in guidance

It is also said that companies will soon be using applications like radio-frequency identification tags which will escort employees that have disabilities through office buildings, or they may use magnetic fields that will help pinpoint emergency staff at a time of crisis. Imagine using this technology at football games or concerts. A transmitter could possibly be put on a first responder to track their whereabouts in a heavily populated area.
IoT is said to be exceedingly beneficial for a range of industries. Beacons help in automating a process by bridging a gap between the physical world and the internet. In every business, the use of beacon ranges from the distribution process to improving customer engagement.

Beacons in online payment security

The multi-national payment company, PayPal have already integrated beacon technology to remove the need of cash or swiping your credit/debit cards. The protocol PayPal has implemented will work with their application to allow for ‘hands-free’ payments. This will drastically improve the checkout process by removing the need for ques, and also allowing customer retention to take place by offering promotions.

Beacons in Retail

In today’s world, retailers will need to stand out to stay on top of competition, this can be done using beacon technology. A Huffington post article claimed that beacon technology will help retailers more if they try to retain their current customers rather than try to bring in new ones. It is said that retail experience is all about personalising engagement and then combining it with specifically targeted in-store experiences for each customer. An example of this engagement is understanding in more depth about customers location, demographics and behaviour to provide customers with offers/discounts or recommendations that are personalised to what they are shopping for.

Beacons in Banking

The fast-growing use of beacon technology will soon be seen in other environments such as banks. Beacon technology can be used for branch experience such as distributing applicable information on a range of accounts and other banking options while customers queue up to be served. Banks could also use beacon technology by assigning customers a number meaning they won’t have to stand in a queue, so they could read about other banking services whilst waiting for a notification on when their turn has come.

McKinsey & Company, a high-tech company believe that there is a growing need for companies to become digital leaders. In fact, it is believed that in order to do this, you will need to ensure as an organisation you offer enhanced user experiences. In this case you can use beacon technology to offer just that. We hope you’re ready for our already digital world to become even more digitalised, because soon you will see the use of beacon technology in airports, museums, cinemas, retail stores, sport stadiums and much more, so keep an eye out!

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