We all use location services, often without even registering that we are using them. As we carry our mobile devices around, it’s possible – with our consent – for third parties to identify and track the location of the device. And with your device’s location, the idea is that your customer experience will be transformed.
An obvious example of location services would be booking an Uber, or perhaps searching for a nearby restaurant or retail outlet. Alternatively, a brand can send a notification whenever the customer enters the ‘geofence’ of a store – the geofence being a virtual, circular parameter that identifies when a mobile device enters or exits from the boundary.
The reason why location services feature so heavily on digital transformation blogs and news articles is because many believe they will have a transformational effect on how brands do business. A prevalent problem currently is that in-person transactions still have considerable friction which can be alleviated by technology.
Connecting with patients and ‘creating an intensely positive digital experience’ is a priority at US firm Dignity Health, says Dr Shez Partovi, the company’s Chief Digital Officer. Dignity Health launched its digital transformation in 2016. It’s now deploying remote care and telehealth with an app that lets users find a doctor, book an appointment, and conduct “video visits.” This year, they’re hoping to introduce pre-registering for check-in to a clinic or pre-admission to a hospital.
One of the big pain points for patients and their families, the company has noticed, is finding parking when they arrive at a hospital or clinic. “What we see heating up is the combination of the information you can present using a mobile device, whether a QR code or barcode – with geolocation to enhance the experience and simplify the in-person transactions,’’ Partovi said.
Reducing costs while improving customer care is critical; meeting customers when, where, and how they need it “may be the only way to keep healthcare organisations competitive in the near future,” agrees Alpa Shah, global vice president of digital transformation at Frost and Sullivan.
But while this all sounds great, there are other issues to consider with location services. The opportunities to generate innovative and lucrative insights from big data are likely to be significant, but so too are the risks from perceived unethical behaviour, whether actual or merely unintentional. How data is collected, managed and used is not just a legal issue, it is an ethical issue. Already, concerns have been raised over the ability of mobile phone software to track individuals’ movements even when the location services feature on the phone is inactive – to collect personal data for reasons that are likely to be less than sincere.