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Navigate the challenges of location-based technologies

TTlogo 379x201 Navigate the challenges of location based technologies

As the popularity of Google Maps, Snapchat and Pokémon Go has made clear, location-based technologies have revolutionized how people use mobile phones. By 2018, there will be 2.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, according to eMarketer Inc. They will be navigating to restaurants, Snapchatting their vacations, checking movies playing at the nearest cinema, RSVPing on Meetup or looking up product availability at area Walmart stores.

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of smartphone owners use them to get information related to their location. Now, companies are starting to tap the location-based services (LBS) on consumers’ phones in order to send them relevant offers and messages. According to the Location Based Marketing Association’s (LBMA) latest trends report, 75% of marketers agree and believe that location-based marketing is an important business issue for 2016.

Location-based technologies use wireless transmission, such as between a smartphone and a beacon or Wi-Fi access point, to pinpoint a user’s location. A mobile app that has access to a phone’s location services can provide navigation as well as location-specific content, like coupons or product reviews. In fact, there are myriad uses for LBS in marketing, advertising and customer engagement.

MEPLAN GmbH, a German trade services provider, created the expoNAVIGATION app to help conference attendees find their favorite exhibitors faster. A user searches a database of exhibitors and enters a list of those he wants to visit. The app uses beacons to plot the shortest route around the floor, thus optimizing the customer’s time and, hopefully, boosting sales for exhibitors.

The Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA), based in Hillarys, Australia, has a mobile app that guides visitors along several themed tours (like the Shipwreck Coast or Animal Extremes tours) with interactive activities for kids. Created by Apps Ppl, a developer of cloud-based mobile apps, the AQWA app is part of a larger mobile app — “Everythere” — that tourists use to research activities around Perth and to get directions.

Location is the only piece of data that lets you know where people are throughout the day so you can engage [with] them. Asif Khanpresident, Location Based Marketing Association

But it’s the ability to combine location data with other customer information collected from a mobile app or store loyalty program that has the biggest potential for personalizing how businesses engage with their customers. People often use smartphones to browse the web, make online purchases and pay at the checkout counter. That information, and more, can be accessed and used to understand the buyer’s habits and shopping preferences.

“[LBS] can tie your entire marketing strategy together,” said Asif Khan, president of the LBMA. “We’re using location to blend brick and mortar with e-commerce and digital.”

The data can also be aggregated and combined with other consumer information and used to analyze consumer behaviors and trends.

Investment in location-based technologies will rise significantly in the near future, according to Juniper Research Ltd., based in Hampshire, England. The firm expects the LBS market to jump from $ 12.2 billion in 2014 to $ 43.3 billion by 2019, with context-aware mobile services being the main driving force.

Potholes in the road to location-based technologies

Nevertheless, businesses have been cautious about adopting LBS, despite their interest. Forrester Research’s report “Make Smart Wireless Location Technology Decisions” found that just 3% of businesses surveyed were actually using beacons, while another 11% were piloting them.

This is because location-based services are actually a collection of technologies — some old, some new and others still in research and development. It’s a rapidly developing market, one that can quickly confound an unsuspecting marketer or business owner.

The most common technologies are the following:

GPS: GPS systems are commonly used for maps and other outdoor navigation. They can’t penetrate walls and aren’t accurate enough for use in small spaces, so they’re not used for indoor tracking.

Wi-Fi: Already generally offered free to customers, Wi-Fi is often used for simple tracking of store traffic. One downside is it can’t identify unique individuals if they’re using an iPhone, and accuracy can vary.

Bluetooth beacons: Used primarily for indoor navigation, beacons have an accuracy range of one to several meters, depending on the product and whether fingerprinting or triangulation techniques are also used. Available in sizes as small as a matchbook, they can be hidden behind pictures or in lights. According to Forrester’s June 2016 report “Make Smart Wireless Location Decisions,” some beacons can send only basic data and can’t accept updates, while others are more flexible. Beacons also require maintenance.

“You have to place them, manage them, change batteries in them. They’re operationally intensive,” explained Andre Kindness, principal analyst at Forrester, which estimated an annual maintenance cost of $ 240,000 for keeping beacons operational in a 1,000-square-meter store versus $ 60,000 for Wi-Fi. On the other hand, Wi-Fi nodes run $ 900 a piece, according to the same study.

Two emerging technologies are visible light, emitted via smart LED lights and potentially capable of tracking with an accuracy of a few centimeters, and ultrasound waves, which send out chirps that are picked up by a phone’s audio receiver.

Both are promising technologies, said Bruce Krulwich, chief analyst at New York-based Grizzly Analytics Ltd., which specializes in mobile technologies like location-based services and IoT. However, both have their drawbacks, as well. For visible light, businesses have to replace their lighting with smart LED lights and controllers. Meanwhile, ultrasound may trip on other ambient sounds.

With more work, however, both may achieve performance better than today’s Bluetooth-based solutions, said Krulwich.

Fear of big brother

Consumer concerns about privacy are another challenge for location-based technologies. To work well, the apps need access to the phone’s location services, and consumers can deny apps access. According to the Pew Research Center, over one-third of adults and 46% of teenagers turn off location services due to fears over privacy.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) mobile app requires both Bluetooth and location services to be fully functional. To encourage participation, the museum pre-empted the usual terse system messages users get asking if they want to share location data with one that asks, “Would you like to receive location-based data?”

“We created it to be less intimidating,” said Tomas Garcia, digital media product developer at LACMA. He added that it’s also faster than using individual service prompts.

In fact, users will give up their location data for the right incentive. A Forrester brief, “Fuel Contextual Marketing with Location Data,” found that most phone owners would do so in exchange for benefits like discounts, a loyalty program, rewards for visiting a store or to get navigational aid in a store.

A location-based future?

Location is rapidly becoming the most valuable piece of information for consumer marketing.

Social media platforms and many mobile apps, like weather and news, already collect a user’s location information, said Khan, and they make it available in aggregate form to advertisers.

“We describe location as the cookie for the physical world. Location is the only piece of data that lets you know where people are throughout the day so you can engage [with] them,” he said.

Behavioral data, such as location, is fast becoming more important in marketing than standard demographics, said Maribel Lopez, head of mobile marketing research firm Lopez Research, based in San Francisco.

“Behavioral demographics are much more interesting,” said Lopez. “You may find that Android users do this, iOS users do that, people who are in my store 10 minutes do one thing, while those who stay much longer do another.”

But that also means marketers must think through their messages to target customers’ preferences without making them feel stalked.

“The greatest challenge will be to figure out what messages you want to send and where,” said Lopez. “It’s the most contextual engagement you can have, and people expect engagement, not a generic message or coupon.” 

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Imperva, CloudEra Navigate the Top Five Trends in Professional Services

websitelogo Imperva, CloudEra Navigate the Top Five Trends in Professional Services

Posted by Terry Melnik, PSA Product Marketing Director, NetSuite

A few weeks ago, amid a crowd of professional services executives, practitioners and leaders at a Silicon Valley event, I was reminded of how dramatically the professional services industry has changed in recent years.

Once upon a time, professional services was based on simplistic business models of sell, sign a contract and deliver services. Now the model is exponentially more complex and challenging. What I saw and heard from attendees at the event, “Chart Your Course to Professional Services Excellence,” made that abundantly clear.

Hosted by NetSuite, the event brought together leaders to explore how professional services firms and embedded PS teams can meet new challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Leading organizations have adapted well but laggards have not, as reflected in data shared by Jeanne Urich, managing director of Service Performance Insight (SPI), the leading professional services research consultancy.

As Jeanne noted, a 2016 SPI survey of 549 PS firms revealed that the top 20 organizations produce on average 23 percent net profit — compared to just 2 percent net profit for the bottom 300. The profitability gap is the largest in the nine years that SPI has run its annual survey.

SPI’s survey also found that services organizations using professional services automation (PSA) software improve their efficiency and visibility, critical to driving profitability. That’s the case for two companies that shared experiences at the event, Cloudera, a leading provider of Hadoop-based big data management and analytics platform, and Imperva, a top data security solutions vendor.

Each using the NetSuite OpenAir PSA solution, Cloudera and Imperva both shared how they were better able to manage projects and resources, streamline bid-to-bill cycles and monitor per-project financials in real time. Equally important, they have new insights and agility to navigate what I see as five trends that present both challenge and opportunity to professional services:

Hybrid business models. Especially for PS teams embedded within larger companies, products are increasingly bundled with supporting services, including both hard goods, such as equipment, but also software implementation and maintenance services. Hybrid models also include non-conventional extended service offerings on top of services, such as business process modeling or branding a client’s new software deployment to help drive ownership and adoption.

Globalization. PS organizations are enhancing speed and cost-efficiency by outsourcing to capable resources in highly educated and experienced centers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, or “re-sourcing” work by engaging a local, specialized third party to deliver services as part of the total integrated delivery to the customer.

Multiple subsidiaries. Creating semi-autonomous divisions or subsidiaries by functions or geographies can accelerate growth and establish specialization. By centralizing resources and best practices for multiple units, either internally or through partners, PS firms gain efficiency and economies of scale earlier in their lifecycle.

Services complexity. Successful PS organizations can flexibly accommodate complex, one-off billing models that some clients demand — extremely difficult with disconnected financial, project management and CRM applications. They also have flexibility to handle complexity in resource allocations, service level agreements (SLA), regulatory requirements and more.

Multiple revenue streams. Firms are diversifying revenue, but they need automation to handle income from subscription licenses, implementation services, enhanced support packages, education and training, business processing outsourcing, creative branding and more.

These changes are still unfolding, raising the competitive stakes in professional services. With continued disruption likely, PS organizations with the agility to adapt, innovate and maximize profitability will further widen the gap between top performers and the also-rans.

To learn how NetSuite PSA can help you achieve these goals and chart your course to services excellence, contact us for a complimentary services value assessment.

Posted on Thu, November 3, 2016 by NetSuite filed under

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Navigate noisy neighbor challenges in cloud vs. colocation

Noisy neighbors in IT are just as frustrating as they are in real life — particularly when it comes to colocation…

and cloud. If someone has an application that consumes so many network and compute resources that it negatively affects other users’ apps, in essence, it behaves like a denial of service attack on your system. However, the last thing you want to do is to throttle back your performance, allowing the neighbor to get on with the party.

One of the differences between cloud versus colocation is that public cloud is a fully multi-tenant environment while colocation is partially shared. With cloud, everything — the server, storage and network — is shared; in colocation, although the main servers and storage, along with a portion of the networking, belongs to you, there will be a shared portion of the LAN and the wide area network (WAN) that can cause major problems.

Let’s consider the noisy neighbor issue in the cloud versus colocation.

Public cloud

A public cloud platform is predicated on users sharing as much as possible when it comes to resources. The user rarely has much control over the physical infrastructure, having bought into the use of logical resource “chunks.” Platform management is also controlled by the cloud provider.

A large cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, is unlikely to run out of cloud resources. Effective resource elasticity should ensure that even a resource-intensive application doesn’t adversely impact other workloads around it.

However, other cloud services — particularly those based on a small number of white box servers, a cheap network switch and a network attached storage array — will run into problems as soon as they get more than one user. There aren’t enough physical resources to share; as soon as one application starts to burst, it will try to grab resources. If that burst is due to the application behaving badly — for example, if it has a memory leak or a poorly programmed re-entrant code loop — that provider is doomed. The lack of capability to share resources means that something has to give, and in a poorly managed environment, the whole platform could collapse.

In a public cloud environment, the cloud provider must be able to monitor in real time. It must have written into its agreements with users the proper procedures for a rogue workload. At minimum, this should include a rapid warning to the workload’s owner.

Avoid providers that just try to sell you a large initial instance of a logical platform so that you have more headroom to play with — this is no different than overprovisioning in the physical world.

The more established public cloud providers will also make part of that information available to all users so they can account for it with their own workload management tools. There is nothing more annoying for a systems administrator than when everything looks fine on a fully detailed set of logs on their own system only to discover that the damage is due to a neighboring user that allowed some developer to write a subroutine.

Avoid providers that just try to sell you a large initial instance of a logical platform so that you have more headroom to play with — this is no different than overprovisioning in the physical world. Look for those who can provide dedicated logical resource slices with guaranteed service level agreements. It will cost more, but having a guaranteed amount of network bandwidth could be the best guarantee against being hit by a third-party noisy neighbor.

Colocation

Another difference between colocation versus cloud is that, with colocation, you own a cage, rack, cabinet or room in which you run your company’s applications and functions on your hardware. The main server-to-server network will be fully under your control. But when you need outside access, you will need to use shared infrastructure such as the data center LAN and WAN.

You also have a responsibility to make sure that you aren’t the noisy neighbor. Use tools that enable you to monitor in real time. Being able to monitor the data center LAN and WAN is key to making sure you are not a noisy neighbor. This is also a way to see if someone else is being one.

Many colocation providers will have their own systems management capabilities, from simple sys admin tools to full data center infrastructure management tools. Look for those providers who are willing to share data from these systems so that both parties are monitoring.

Look to the colocation providers who are network-agnostic, enabling the use of multiple WAN providers. If a noisy neighbor impacts your traffic, you can switch all or part of your workload over to an alternative network. With the LAN, you may need to look to dedicated, guaranteed logical bandwidth. In extreme scenarios, consider dedicated network connections from your equipment to the WAN, in addition to dedicated WAN connections.

A well-managed colocation environment is where the colocation provider monitors what is going on and provides network switching and management services. This environment also includes full facility management, which will ensure noisy neighbors do not impact your workloads. 

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Colbran South Africa

5 Easy Ways to Navigate the AppExchange Like an Expert

YMxjY0zF90o8sB6 100x100 5 Easy Ways to Navigate the AppExchange Like an Expert

The AppExchange has more than 2,600 apps that help your business grow faster. But how do you narrow down that field to find the ones that will be most effective for your company? At Dreamforce ’14, guest speaker Garry Polmateer, Managing Partner at Red Argyle, helped answer that question and shared his tips for navigating the AppExchange and finding the apps that are best for your company.

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