Ooh La La : Beaconising NFC World Congress and World Smart Week

Last week we exhibited, spoke at, and “beaconised” the NFC World Congress in Marseille as part of World Smart Week. Here’s how it went. 

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We had several involvements with the show. First off, we had agreed to place Aplix iBeacons all through the show, and created a set of White Label Apps on Android and iOS that would react when near these Beacons. The iOS app went live in the iTunes Store a week or so before the event, and the Android App, which was the first of our “new” iBeacon ready white label Apps, had been completed “just in time” for the event. 

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When we arrived on Sunday, they were still putting together stands and main areas, so we huddled and set up content for Exhibitors, rooms and so on, while the show techies did their thing. We basically loaded content for the other Exhibitors (you’re welcome!), and then for all the main show areas. We had a few things we wanted to do:

  • Trigger a greeting on Arrival 
  • Deliver Fun notifications around coffee, lunch, networking areas
  • Present Digital Product information around Exhibitor’s stands
  • Trigger special rewards near the LocalSocial Stand

We got the exhibitor content from their websites and form the show site, and then also pulled together a bunch of information about the venue, the rooms and so on. Pretty soon, it started to come together. 

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As the work finished on the stands, we started placing Beacons around the venue, which had lots of ideal places to position iBeacons, and then we could start testing the apps against the beacon positioning as we walked the floor. All good. 

It’s funny the reaction sometimes as you place Beacons in a venue. One of the folks at Reception saw me placing one of the Aplix Beacons and said “ah, you’re going to track us!”. :-) Not really, I explained, but was fascinated by the reaction. 

The other main reaction from people is “ah, you’re going to push offers at me!”. This is also fascinating, and I think, a real issue for the nascent iBeacon - powered Beacosystem as it evolves. if people make a 1:1 associated between iBeacon and either “being tracked” or “push offers” then we’ll see significant dis-engagement from how widely the technology will be deployed and used. And this means there’s a responsibility on all parties deploying these projects to think carefully about data, privacy, notification frequency, and communication. All aspects must be balanced in order to balance everyone’s interests, and create great experiences that are net positive for all. 

Anyway - with our stuff set up, it was time for a beer. 

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The show kicked off on Monday, and we were speaking on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, we moderated a panel of presentations on Proximity Marketing and Beacons, that included:

A great discussion ensured, and we even ran the session on time! :-) Our slides are here.

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That night there was a gala dinner on a fixed boat in the Port of Marseille. Most enjoyable (thanks conference organisers and sponsors)!

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The show itself was great. Some very interesting sessions covering NFC, payment, and of course the killer question for all:

What is Apple up to??

Apple were the most-discussed company at the event, for obvious reasons, and it’s fascinating to hear the varying opinions on what their “support” for NFC means for all players in the ecosystem. 

For our selfing interest, there was quite a bit of “good traffic” as they say at our stand, and a lot of interest in the uses of iBeacon and Proximity Platforms in various areas, including retail, transport, enterprise / corporate use and so on. 

We gave a talk on the second day that described our experience deploying iBeacons for Real Estate customers Savills. The slides for that talk are here

Overall: great show, really interesting attendees and speakers, and of course, a great venue. 

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WizTurn from SK Telecom : Indoor Location (iBeacon) Platform

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We bumped in to the SK Telecom Folks at the excellent Place2014 Conference in New York a few weeks ago. One of the folks we chatted to was from SK Telecom - where it turns out - they have built out their own end to end indoor location / proximity platform called WizTurn. It seems to be the full soup-to-nuts platform - everything from maps to proximity, apps and APIs. Fair play to them. Plus they have quite a few use cases to discuss (they were in the slides from the event). Will also post their rather cool video explaining it all…

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LocalSocial in one minute

Macy’s all-in on iBeacon with ShopKick. Long time coming this. Interesting snippet here also : 4,000 Beacons to cover all Macy’s Footprint in the US? Wow. Bad news for the hardware providers. Good news for the upper layer service folks. Yes - that is indeed a self serving observation :-) I’m sure after they go wide (cover all stores) they can then go deep (more density of beacons and indoor accuracy). (via Macy’s Expands Shopkick Beacons to Stores Across the Country | Street Fight)

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As reported in TechCrunch EuropeStamp.it has secured initial funding to launch its Customer Loyalty Platform for small businesses. Looking, um, remarkably like its American Big Brother Belly, it combines a mobile app, physical loyalty cards, and an electronic option for small to medium sized retailers to roll-their-own loyalty service. Basically “loyalty-in-a-box”. And from what I can tell from the site, it follows the Belly playbook (stamps for rewards, mixed physical and mobile loyalty card/app, iPad for display, attract and signup).

Judging by the website, they may have an option (as Belly does) to provide an iPad (or you can supply your own).

According to TechCrunch, it’s a spin-out from Marco Pearson’s Vouchercode empire - with one of the employees becoming the CEO of the new venture. Will be interesting to see how and where they launch it in the UK, but certainly, armed with the Markco Media relationship, there should be plenty of synergy to get them up and running.

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