Beacons Need Content

prismatic.pngThere’s a thought-provoking story at prismatic that explains Why the beacon revolution has been postponed. I worked on an iBeacon client project (on Android) this past year and some of the observations are similar to mine.

If you don’t know what beacons are, at their simplest, they are just Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that don’t need conventional Bluetooth pairing. This means iOS and Android devices can easily detect them and apps can perform actions when they are detected. The (i) in iBeacon is mainly only a Bluetooth custom packet (data) format defined by Apple, an extra interpretation of the signal strength as a range of intermediate, near and far and the ability of iPhones themselves to become beacons. Hence, (later) Android devices can also see iBeacons and the signal strength can be used to determine range.

Back to the story, Tim Dunn says that beacons need a lot more than installing small beacon devices into stores or venues. The system requires "wholesale changes in data management, user identification, merchandizing, messaging and the build of a new set of CRM rules". It "requires commitment in CRM and content generation".

I agree with Tim. It’s not just about installing beacons and creating the iOS and Android apps which can be (human) resource intensive in themselves – although 3rd parties now offer SDKs and backend systems to ease integration. The clever and innovative parts are in associating the right business objects (Stores, venues, rooms, products, even people) with beacons and continually creating appropriate and timely content. The last part, "continually creating appropriate and timely content" can be hugely (human) resource intensive and I think there are many opportunities in this area to automate content generation for specific industry areas.