Best practices: 5 keys to delivering robust indoor location services
The market for real-time indoor location services is growing rapidly, with a wealth of new applications emerging across healthcare, retail, sports, manufacturing and dozens of other verticals that are expected to drive the market to $58 billion (€50.18 billion)by 2023, according to KBV Research says Fabio Belloni, chief customer officer and co-founder, Quuppa.
While their pain points and needs vary significantly, all are seeking to drive efficiency and cost reduction, and improve the customer experience, through location capabilities.
For example, in healthcare, companies are pursuing real-time location capabilities to track patients, employees and hospital equipment, with the goal of providing proof of compliance to hospital regulations, while meeting standards and ensuring staff and patient safety.
In retail, real-time location can help increase conversion rates, streamline inventory management, enhance loss prevention and improve the shopper experience. In industrial IoT, such as manufacturing and logistics, companies are seeking to improve operational efficiency, quality control and employee safety.
Likewise, the RTLS industry is literally powered by a variety of ways to get there, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), ultrawideband (UWB), Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi, and others. While all have their benefits and challenges, each has found a home in a particular vertical market segment.
However, as technology evolves and business needs are becoming more specific and highly curated beyond general location requirements, many companies across industries are investigating newer solutions that help deliver not only highly accurate location but also the scalability and reliability needed for complex, real-world applications as well as the ability to maintain the system easily over time.
This combination of accuracy, scalability and reliability has spawned a whole new set of applications that are helping companies more effectively compete and drive even more value across the business.
To find success with these next-generation applications based on real-time location, there are five key considerations companies should keep in mind:
- Think beyond the single application: Many companies make the mistake of trying to solve for the immediate problem—the killer app—without determining what other needs their department or company might have that would benefit greatly from a more modular solution—and a strategic plan. In choosing the single application, they end up budgeting for the minimum viable solution instead of one that will meet their mid- and long-term needs. That type of process will only bring frustration and cost overruns. The value from location services comes from a modular solution approach that takes into consideration both the short- and longer-term needs of the company.
- Clearly define the tangible and intangible project deliverables in advance of execution: Many IoT projects never deliver on the results that were expected because those expectations were never qualified and quantified at the start of the project. Defining key deliverables, as well as the due dates for each piece of the deliverable, is a crucial step in any project management process. It’s also important as part of the roadmap to understand what happens after a deliverable in the plan is successfully reached—what are the next steps that are automatically triggered? It’s helpful to think of steps as milestones. For example: when the milestone is reached, what happens next? Qualifying and quantifying in advance through a strategic, agreed-upon plan that all stakeholders have access to is critical and avoids downtime for team members, who will inevitably ask “what should we be working on next?”
- Make sure the end user problem is clearly understood: Despite the growth of the global location services market and the rise of IoT overall, that doesn’t automatically mean there aren’t growing pains. For example, end users may not be fully educated, and often either have unrealistic expectations or don’t really understand fully what they need. Taking the time to truly understand how the user will use the solution to solve a problem will avoid roadblocks down the road.
- Understand all of the components in your location solution: A complete solution for location services includes both hardware (tags) and software. However, software includes a wealth of layers and dependencies that make the solution robust and specialised to certain applications. Understanding what type of tags will work best for a company’s applications is also key. Taking a holistic approach in selecting hardware and software that meets immediate and long-term needs is critical.
- Do not take shortcuts when implementing your first real project: The temptation to speed up a project to meet deadlines often ends in disaster because enough time was not taken to adequately test the solution in real-world conditions as part of the implementation process. Companies need to understand how a solution will scale beyond their small test arena before implementing on a wider scale across the business. Cutting into the testing phase frequently ends in disaster.
Real-time location services are helping companies to deliver on a wide variety of applications that drive value across their businesses. By doing the legwork to understand these best practices ahead of time, companies will be well on their way to a successful implementation.
The author of this blog is Fabio Belloni, chief customer officer and co-founder, Quuppa.