Proximity: Rendezvous with Technology

By Ajay Kumar Jha, GM IT, Reliance Communication Infrastructure Ltd

Technology has always been encompassed in new ways for humans to interact. Steve Jobs popularized the mouse in 1980s. Apple's latest iPhones have a feature called 3D Touch that responds differently depending on finger pressures. It is also working on touchless gesture control and curved screens for their future iPhones. This feature would let iPhone users perform their tasks by moving their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it. The new gesture technology would take into account the proximity of a finger to the screen. To stay ahead it needs compelling new features and designs that may help the company differentiate its product in an increasingly crowded market.

Proximity means knowing where your customers and assets are and a real time interacting with them in ways that are meaningful both to the User and Self. A proximity sensor detects the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. The maximum distance that this sensor can detect is defined as its range.

Internet of Things is a heavy weight champ on the technology hype scale. New enabling technologies  including Bluetooth 5, proximity awareness, and others have sped the path to IoT value creation. Latest rollout of Bluetooth 5 quadruples its range, doubles its speed and boosts data broadcasting capacity. These enhancement and capacity improvements open up vast new IoT opportunities for companies to build a more accessible and interoperable IoT.

The power of proximity awareness technology

 One of the most powerful tools for helping an organization gain profit ability from IoT is proximity technology. Smart proximity technology will play an important and critical role in extracting value from IoT, alternatively IoE – the Internet of Everything. It’s IoE because the value creation chain includes more than just things. It involves people, data streams,  locations, equipment, communication systems, and more, all connected to the Internet. Proximity- technology brings these scattered pieces of IoT together into a cohesive system that organizations can analyze and act on to solve problems, optimize time, and improve productivity. This is increasingly important as connected  “things” gain autonomy and begin taking more actions on their own.

Proximity solutions enable organizations to gain greater order, efficiency, automation, and predict ability from IoT. They solve for situations where people and things are spread, for eliminating guesswork and costly inadequacies. They enable organizations to see where things are, what’s happening with them, and how to make them more effective and productive.

Proximity makes IoT work

A large amount of data from IoT is being generated but only a fraction of it is being put to use. This is because the focus is mainly on detecting break-downs or other anomalies, rather than envisioning new, value building uses. By deploying smart proximity- technology, companies can realize greater value from IoT by using it to predict and optimize a wide range of activi ties. Once implemented and put to place the “old mindset of repair and replace transforms into a new mindset of predict and prevent”

"Smart proximity technology will play an important and critical role in extracting value from IoT, alternatively IoE - the Internet of Everything"

Enriching corporate data with proximity awareness pushes several things forward. Knowing where your people, inorganic assets, customers and goods are and when their joint movements become actionable al- lows automated responses to specific conditions of convergence and divergence. As the world becomes increasingly networked with nearly everything linked to everything or anything, production and supplier networks are expected to grow enor mously, meaning manufacturers will need to coordinate with more global suppliers. Boundaries that today separate individual factories and other facilities will be eliminated as IoT and proximity technology would connect multiple factories and the people working in them.

Building flexible solutions at scale

Smart proximity awareness based on a scalable and horizontal technol­ogy foundation lowers barriers and makes it easier to integrate all of the pieces into a single whole that is easy to operate, expand, and maintain. It’s high time to consider the IoT busi­ness opportunities, set a vision, estab­lish a plan, and put smart proximity awareness technology to work as a strategic differentiator.

It’s well pointed out by McKinsey as, “Businesses that fail to invest in IoT capabilities, culture, processes, as well as in technology are likely to fall behind their competitors”

Technology – Tryst with destination

Through many challenges that mar­keters face, one is discovering cus­tomers' needs, behavior and customs. Where does he watch our products for most of the time? What device does he use for that? What is the path that he follows to get to our site? Or maybe is he more into traditional pa­per-based offers and offline stores? All this and customer behavior is used to build their profile and taste for better segmentation and targeted approach. Despite new technology, platforms and ways to approach customers the real burning issue for marketers stays the same: how to reach customers, how to extend the business prosperity and what is the best strategy?

As technology is upgrading, so is the expectation of customers too. In practice, it means customers won’t appreciate an offer or discount, unless it suits them. It has to be designed in a way to create unique shopping ex­perience and build brand loyalty. Suc­cess on multichannel field is achieved when it meets customer's expectations and needs. The key here is to wisely segment the collected data, analyze it and successfully use in cross channel strategy. Further timing is important, customized and polished content with great discounts may flop if not ade­quately timed.

Every day we are bombarded with information: digital and paper-based. It is on marketer’s side to create and optimize communication in a way which cultivates interest. It is needless to say that communication should be done simultaneously on all platforms and channels.

Converting an opportunity onto Prospective customer or closing and finishing an order is more important. Driving user to shopping cart site - is just the beginning. In this world of smart gadget, we have to keep in mind, that during browsing and dis­covery a user can abruptly change his mind both voluntarily or involuntar­ily and switch off his devise.

Technology to the Rescue

Proximity Technology with the use of Bluetooth and Beacon gives an opportunity to connect with clients in an exciting and engaging way. It enables interaction with users in real time. Imagine building capability of transmitting content and promotions pertaining to product offering in a personalized way that too using all channels. Use of modern high-tech connection of Bluetooth/Proximity/NFC and Beacon Technology with mobile application enables client en­tering stores to instantly receive a mes­sage on their smartphone or wearable device. These messages include infor­mation concerning the physical loca­tions of product, its descriptions as a customized offer. Proximity technol­ogy can be used to drive more traffic to product store and bring more mul­tichannel sales to business. It helps creating a unique relationship with customers, enabling communication with clients both online and offline.

Apart from commercial benefits there are many socio, economic bene­fits and lifestyle status symbols encom­passed in products. Do remember the unique functionality which transform and enables next generation hands-free sensing faucet and lights in most of places. And the Retina sensing tech­nology being used in Apple Watch, these are few notable examples of Proximity Technology.

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