Beacon technology is clever, but let’s use it wisely

Written by on May 13, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Tempte sur le phare de la grande jete (La Chaume)News that Citibank is rolling out Beacon technology should fill us with joy and hope for a better future. That this announcement almost certainly means that others will follow suit should dramatically increase the excitement.

Sadly, it does the opposite.

Beacon technology allows banks, well, anyone, to offer personalised, location-based services to customers.

For some location-based reasons, this is excellent technology. For banks, for some purposes, it makes sense. After hours, a customer can approach a locked bank lobby, the beacon will know you are there and allow access using an Apple Watch or iPhone as a virtual key. Clever? Certainly. Simple? Absolutely. Useful? Definitely, in our busy deconstructed world where work and play are blurring into one.

What will ruin this very simple, sound, idea is this ability to offer ‘personalised, location-based’ services. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the guys in Marketing will not be able to hold themselves back. We know that if they can offer a location-based, personalised service, they will. In fact, they will offer more than one, probably dozens. They will, if you will pardon the expression, go completely over the top.

Which is fine, if your company is the only one doing this, in, say a shopping mall.

We also know that once the ability to offer location-based, personalised services is actually here, everyone will be doing it.

Customers will be deluged with offers of every sort and from every direction as they enter the building. Some, of course, will sift through them, reap the benefits, spend far too much time and money, and go home with a car full of bargains that they did not want.

Most of us will ignore them, switch them off, leave our phone in the car, block them, or go and shop in the equivalent of the ‘ad blocking’ Mall down the road.

And we should not respond to this problem by assuming that Millennials, or Generation Y’s (or Z) will embrace these offers any more than we will.

They hate being bombarded.

As we discovered at the recent ETIS BRM event, Millennials hate giving out their number, they assume that they will be bombarded with offers of services they do not want. They are already sick and tired of being offered bolt-ons – daily – when their data is about to run out, they worry about their privacy as much as the rest of us and they hate advertising clogging up their social media timelines, with a vengeance.

What they do to combat the bombardment is to stop using data until the beginning of the next billing cycle. What they also do is stop using a social media channel that uses advertising. They will, without doubt, also avoid the shopping Mall that does the same thing.

Beacon technology may be great technology, but it must be used wisely, to solve a problem or make our lives easier and better and not, as we tend to do, to see how far we can push people’s patience.

If we do not, the next opportunity for someone will be to build a beacon blocker.

Actually, if you’ll excuse me…

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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