Beacon tech finds new applications outside of sales, marketing

Security still an obstacle, however

It's easy to dismiss beacon technology as a gimmick, but even if the idea never takes off for consumers there are still plenty of practical applications at the enterprise level that make it a niche worth watching. 

Already used by the NFL, Virgin Atlantic and the retail industry as a targeted marketing strategy, low-energy, location-based beacon tech could also earn its keep by streamlining workflows and increasing productivity in the workplace.

Some mobile productivity apps are already building the tech right into their products. WebIS's newest version of its time management app Pocket Informant includes beacon functionality that allows users to set micro-location-based reminder notifications as broad as "when I'm at work" or as granular as "when I'm at my desk".

Mobile solutions firm Mobiquity Labs sees a lot of potential for the use of beacons in the healthcare environment, from hospital admissions to long-term patient management. As a company blog post posits, "Envision a world where medical apps store all the information a patient would need (medications, treatments, etc.) to provide informed care at home. As beacons register the patient leaving the hospital, the app could push a coupon from a partner retailer (with the nearest location). Wayfinding at the retail location guides the patient to either the pharmacy or correct aisle with a product display for comparison. Should the store happen to be out of the suggested product or medication, the patient could order the item and ship it home with a single tap in the app."

Of course, widespread enterprise adoption of beacon technology won't happen until companies are more comfortable with the product's security. Of primary concern right now is that beacon data can be easily intercepted by a third-party. As we reported earlier this year, lack of consistent monitoring and tracking, along with the fact that beacons are fairly easy to steal, mean employees shouldn't expect to see the devices popping up in the office next week.

Nevertheless, as beacon technology improves, expect to see it applied in ways that move it out of advertising and into the workplace and beyond.

For more:
- see the Mobiquity article
- read about beacon technology

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