We have been getting a lot of companies come to us for geocoding services lately. What is geocoding? Essentially it is generating accurate coordinates for a location or street address.
This can be really important if the locations are used in a GPS based device and especially where routing or directions are involved. For example it is often not practical for vehicles to zigzag from one side of the road to another. It may be impossible because of median barriers, difficult because of heavy traffic, or the vehicle could be one that must stay on one side of the road, for example a rubbish truck. Another classic situation would be where the address is given as Corner of X and Y Streets. That could be any one of four or more corners, which could have significant implications on routing and another time waster for people on the road.
GeoSmart has driven most roads to sub half a meter accuracy which means that when we provide coordinates they will be on the correct side of the road. We have seen frequent examples of map providers who use source maps which are not spatially accurate, which can often result in the road being displaced to the point that both odd and even numbers are shown as being on the wrong side of the road.
We have a number of services on offer. We have API’s which allow an application to look up addresses using an auto-completer. This is particularly good for accounting software, CRM and other applications, allowing companies to get the full information correct first time, right into the application. We never cease to be amazed at how bad some companies record keeping of addresses is for their clients. This may not be a problem when the same person calls on them for years, but when change happens, it can become a major time waster, especially in a country with so many duplicate place names. Go to http://www.aamaps.co.nz and see how many instances of Queen Street there are just in Auckland City!
We have a geocode web service and also a Software as a Service (SaaS) application which allows you to upload a CSV file of addresses. It will resolve them including looking at incorrect spelling, vanity (e.g. where someone says Remuera, but technically they are in Newmarket) or incorrect suburbs and much more. The results include Post Code ane even Census data such as Mesh Block and the ability to export to GIS in MapInfo format.Results are ranked based on the result, for example if you look for 21A X Street and we don’t have 21A, but we do have 21 X Street, it will show as a sub 100% result and an explanation that we believe that result is correct. The same if a name is misspelled or perhaps it was entered as 21 X Street when it should have been 21 X Avenue.
The application also allows you to modify the location by moving an icon on the map yourself. For example a property may have multiple entrances, or the location may not even be on a street. It could be a building in a park, or a location within a large complex such as a hospital, university or shopping mall. We offer the flexibility of doing it yourself and being able to interpret it yourself according to your needs, without requiring GIS software or skills.
Having driven pretty much every road in New Zealand with our mapping car in most cases to sub 1 meter accuracy, we are able to offer a degree of quality not available anywhere else.
In addition to a very attractive pricing model, we are a local company in your time zone, we have developers that you can talk to and are very passionate about all things location.
To top it off, we are a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association which is of course committed to New Zealand motorists and all revenues are retained in New Zealand.
Want to know more. Why not contact us and be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to use and of course affordable.
P.S. We can offer the same services for Australia.
For a long time we have been encouraging our business partners to look at developing applications and devices to track elderly people, people with memory impaired conditions such as dementia, blind, autistic and others. There have been many challenges in this area because these devices are often a little on the bulky side and need daily charging due to the power constraints of batteries used for communications and GPS. Designing devices that are appealing such as bracelets, necklaces that people are prepared to wear has been a challenge. That development goes on and we hope that in the next year or so, we will see some success and demand from the market.
There is of course another huge market segment where mobiles are used. We are starting to see a number of applications like Pingbot, which we mentioned on our Facebook Page. This uses location based services including GPS to identify the location of a person’s mobile, with their permission of course. Effectively with Pingbot, the owner of the mobile has a secret word, effectively like a password that the user can share with those trusted people who may need to be able to find them. Obvious users would be children (most teenage children would not go anywhere without a mobile today), people with some form of disability, injury or medical risk, such as allergies or requiring medication, they may have forgotten to take with them. It could also be a social, sport or other reason for people to be able to find each other, such as a buddy finder environment. The idea of Pingbot is that all you need to do is send an SMS message with the secret word in order to find the location of that person.
GeoSmart has the web services and API’s to help developers create these types of solution in New Zealand and Australia. This includes highly accurate mapping, accurate turn by turn directions via the fastest route and services such as Reverse GeoCoding, which allows you to send a set of coordinates to our servers, which will return the nearest street address to that location.
These sorts of applications were difficult to market in the past because most people didn’t have mobiles with GPS. Today is a different story. It’s almost difficult to find a mobile in a retail store today that does not have GPS. We’d like to hear from developers who would like to help find that child that didn’t get home, the diabetic who went out without their insulin, or the blind person who has become disoriented. We offer a Developer Agreement for free and are local, in your time zone, with real people you can talk to about your application development.
There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.
In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.
As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.
GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.
By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.
Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.
Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.
Does this sound familiar to you? We talk to companies all the time who have problems with who to allocate a new customer or prospect to when they ring the sales or franchise company or call centre. Sales territories have always been a bit of a problem to deal with, but this will no longer be a problem for people who use GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP business intelligence SaaS (Software as a Service) application.
Old school BAU (Business As Usual) is still the way most sales and service companies work. They pin a map on the wall, draw the territory on it with a sharpie pen and write the name on the map. There are always arguments over whether a territory includes both sides of the road, where the suburb boundaries are and don’t even start about what happens when you want to modify a territory.
If the call centre or people taking the calls don’t have access to the map when new customers ring, there can be major time wasting and potential for problems ensuring that the right person is dealing with the client quickly and professionally in order to secure new business. There are also issues over making sure the address is correct. There are a dozen Queen Streets in Auckland and we have heard plenty of stories about people driving up and down a road in the wrong suburb looking for a client they are meant to be meeting with. Then there are vanity suburbs like the person on Remuera Road who say they are in Remuera, but they are actually in Newmarket and knowing which numbers of the street belong in which territory. It is a problem that has been around for years.
This problem goes away with BIonaMAP and there are a number of ways that we can deal with it. Some companies are simply going to use a query on the BIonaMAP home page which effectively allows you to start entering the address, with an autocompleter allowing you to select from a drop down menu to get the right one. Some companies are going to integrate this function right into their accounting software, CRM or other business database application, which means that the full correct address with Post Code and correct suburb as well as the coordinates are recorded into the right fields.
What makes this different? Database applications on their own can deal with suburbs or post codes, but typically can not deal with spatial queries, i.e. in what territory or polygon does this belong to? The answer effectively will be one of the following:
- It belongs in Territory X.
- It appears in Territory X and overlapping Territory Y (e.g. a sales and a service territory)
- It doesn’t appear in any territory
BIonaMAP is available for New Zealand and Australia and has a host of location based business analytics capability. It is Software as a Service which means no software installation and it can be accessed by using a web browser. We also welcome inquiries from sales, service, franchise and other business consultants, resellers and systems integrators.
I just read a story about an application in the US which I posted on our Facebook Page about an alarm company which is providing an application for people who use their home alarm systems, which uses geofences (a line around an area, such as your property) drawn with a mouse on a map to send a notification to people’s mobiles when they have left home, but haven’t set the alarm.
Of course the first thing I thought of was why didn’t someone in New Zealand think of that. The answer is probably that alarm and security companies in New Zealand are probably too focussed on BAU (Business As Usual) although I’d love to be proved wrong.
Of course GeoSmart has the technology to enable a solution like this. It would be easy to do and could be a huge value add to the purchase of a home burglar alarm. I’d probably go a step further and enable the possibility of arming the alarm remotely when you realise you have dones this and you have already left, or the ability to disarm it if you have someone at home that doesn’t have the code and has just set the alarm off.
I had previously thought that the security industry could use our BIonaMAP application as well, but have focussed on industries where we already have client demand. As you can see on the web page above, BIonaMAP allows you to see your customer locations on a map and run queries from your business data and view it on a map. This could include:
- Show all customers on a map who have a particular type of alarm
- Show all customers whose alarm needs a preventative maintenance visit
- Show all customers who hasn’t ad a visit or sales call within a certain period of time
- Show all customers in an area by the number of security guard visits
- Show scheduled visits by security guard run on different nights of the week, different staff in different colours
- Show results of sales calls including yes, no, maybe or by competitor brand
- Show domestic clients by demographic
- Find new clients by demographic statistics e.g. household income right down to street addresses within a mesh block
As an example, this picture illustrates using BIonaMAP to find areas where the people have lived in their homes for between 5 and 9 years AND have a household income of over $80,000 p.a. which could possibly be a good target market to purchase monitored home burglar alarms. BIonaMAP can even provide street addresses for the houses within those shaded areas.
I’ve blogged about route optimisation many times recently. One recent blog talked about Fleet Management, our new BIonaMAP application and some other wonderful concepts, as ideas on how to save your business money and time and thereby increasing productivity and productivity.
I would like to break this down a little bit because there is a misconception out there that all of this technology requires spending lots of money and installing expensive equipment in your company vehicles. Let me break it down for you. There are some wonderful solutions out there, many of which are offered by our valued partners and they all have a purpose and fulfil business needs. Some business problems are complex and require complex solutions and some are simple and provide very quick return on investment.
So here is a simple problem. You have one or more vehicles which need to go out on the road and do several jobs. They may be regular runs, or they may be different each day. Let’s make it even simpler. Let’s break it down to one vehicle. You may have lots of vehicles, but let’s just look at one of them.
Here we have a merchandiser, who has to visit a number of supermarkets. One person has to visit 9 grocery stores, checking their stocks, managing the shelf placement, demonstrating new products, taking orders. As do many field sales people in New Zealand and Australia, their territory comprises of urban calls and calls out in the country and they spend a lot of their time driving.
The problem is that you can only fit so much time in a working day. You can have a pretty good idea of what order to do the jobs in, probably the order you always do them in. The other problem is that the price of petrol is going up, prices are coming down and your budget is going up. You need to get smarter.
Our Route2GO Lite application is a simple web service. There is no software to be installed, no set up fees and as Software as a Service you only pay for what you use. In this case person, who is a great sales person, spent 28 1/2 hours in the car, dead time between calls in order to make those essential visits. Route2GO worked out how she could do the same visits but spending only 22 hours in the car. Now she can either fit in more calls in the same amount of time or spend more time with each client enhancing the relationship, doing product knowledge training with their staff and increasing the average sales she generates from those clients, which reduces the pressure on her and her sales manager to get the results the company needs.
We also cut over 400km in driving distance from this sales trip. At even $1 per km that’s a lot of money going back to the bottom line.
So what do you need in order to achieve a result like this? A PC with a web browser. An account with GeoSmart and a little time. For this run which included 9 clients and returning to base with a pile of orders, the total cost to GeoSmart would have been $6.25. No hidden surprises, that’s it. This includes the fee for geocoding (generating coordinates for calculating the route) and the optimisation from the office, to the 9 stores and back to the office. Oh and the cost of a piece of paper if you want to print off the above map and route.
It really is that simple. If you want to know more, why not contact us? We’ll even do a couple of runs for you for free, preferably ones you have already done previously so you can get a genuine comparison as to whether it will work for you. This was a dramatic example, in some cases it might only save you a little, but if we could help you visit one or two more customers in a trip without increasing your fixed overheads, every trip, hat would that add up to over a year?
We have more information about route optimisation in our blogs, so why not have a scroll through and see if you can find an example that’s relevant to your business. In an upcoming blog I will explain in simple terms what route optimisation actually is and why we can do it better than you can drawing pictures on a map. The key point of this exercise is that you can achieve dramatic results without putting in any money upfront and without having to buy any technology you don’t already have. Route2GO is available for New Zealand and Australia.
Following on from my last blog Adding Location to Loyalty Cards, an area that I feel is really important is game mechanics. One of the problems with loyalty cards is that they are inherently boring and there are lots of them. We live in a world of constant distraction and we want instant gratification. However that gratification doesn’t have to be a free air ticket or turbo food processor with Ginzu knives. It can be as simple as points or recognition and applications today need to evolve as the public become more tech savvy on their mobiles.
What is game mechanics and how is it relevant? Playing games is part of who we human animals are. Games are a natural part of entertainment and education, whether it is a child doing its first jigsaw puzzle, or the All Blacks heading into a rugby match at that international world competition for a cup. Yes, ultimately no matter how passionate we are about success, Graham Henry and the NZRFU themselves said “It’s just a game.”
Games are immensely popular and computer and mobile offers massive revenue potential. Gartner predicts that the global video game industry on its own will generate revenues of over US$112 billion by 2015. That doesn’t even take into consideration mobile. Application developers have been all over Facebook, now on Google+ and on devices such as iPhone, iPad and Android and now developers of smart location based games and marketing applications are heading the same way.
Developers are looking to use our interest and passion for playing games to influence the behaviour of consumers and it is working. One obvious area is in the retail, travel, tourism, attraction, hospitality and entertainment industries. Of course as I have outlined in many recent blogs, loyalty is a key aspect that all of these industries are looking for, or in other words, profitable repeat business.
So what aspects should a loyalty application include. A major one is achievements. I’ve talked about reward and that rewards don’t have to be tangible items. A reward can be points such as the points used by Foursquare when you check into a location. They also have badges and mayorships which are either the reward itself or their may be special deals or offers made to those people who come in regularly. The new Tap City game allows you to earn virtual dollars for checking in. One of the great things about group loyalty operations is the ability to cross market, for example using a passport concept where the more locations you check in to, the more rewards you get.
The appointment dynamic is extremely powerful. This is where you want people to do something at either a predetermined time or an ad hoc time. For example a restaurant that is always quiet between 3PM and 5PM on a particular day of the week might offer incentives within the application to get more business at that time of day. The concept I like the most, is pushing deals when you have inventory you want to use in a hurry. An example might be the special of the day in a restaurant where you haven’t sold as much as you catered for. The classic story I often use of a jet boat that is going out in 20 minutes with 5 empty seats. This is a perfect opportunity to push a deal to people who are close by and have opted in to be offered deals. The cost differential between having 4 or 9 passengers is negligible but the fun and entertainment factor of 9 people screaming as the boat does a 360 degree spin is significantly greater for all, including the 4 who paid full price. There is also a potential dynamic of more people seeing them having fun and therefore wanting to have a go themselves. The same could apply to any attraction, like the luges in Auckland and Queenstown.
I can come up with a hundred concepts for different types of locations for cafe’s, restaurants, attractions, theatres, travel, accommodation, entertainment, retail, sport, tourism and so can you.
I will continue this blog next week with more thoughts on game mechanics or gamification that you might like to consider in your location based application. Remember, GeoSmart has all the data and tools you ned to make these ideas possible and whilst we don’t develop these sorts of applications ourselves, we have many partners who are keen to assist you if you want to take advantage of the opportunities now possible because of the large number of people using location aware mobiles. The question is how much extra business would you like?
Maybe you would like to join the discussion and leave a comment of your own to add to the mix?
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