Beacons in the Enterprise: 7 ways to make the most of it
February 27, 2015
Beacons, the low-powered transmitters that have so far been known for transforming sectors like retail, museums and hotels are quickly making inroads into other consumer-facing domains too.
But are beacons useful in increasing backend process efficiency as well? In this blog post, we analyse how beacons can play a vital role in enterprise security, productivity and process optimisation. In an earlier blog post on ‘Beacons in the Workplace’, we talked about how these BLE devices can be used for employee time tracking, improving staff productivity, booking meeting rooms and more.
Today, we will talk about how beacons can be used to streamline processes and monitoring, maintaining and managing an organization’s assets. Businesses are often faced with operational challenges stemming from the lack of visibility into real-time location, status and condition of inventory, assets, staff, equipment and other problems. Since overall operational efficiency relies on such key success factors, its imperative that these problems are tackled effectively.
This is where beacons come into the picture. Beacons, with their location sensing capability, can help keep track of location of your staff within office premises and inventory in the warehouse.
Let’s look at some common use cases for beacons in the Enterprise:
1. Inventory Management and Tracking: Accurate inventory visibility is critical to optimizing business management processes and reducing unnecessary losses stemming from product unavailability. Beacons can be used for inventory tracking of when items enter or leave an area, such as a store, warehouse, or a centralized distribution area, in real-time . The system (built around beacons, a beacon management platform and warehouse database) can automatically alert relevant staff upon shortage or surplus of inventory in an area.
Some of the advantages of using beacons for inventory management include:
-Locating critical equipment
-Reducing inventory time
-Achieving real-time physical inventory of assets, enhancing productivity by remotely monitoring assets and infrastructure
-Delivering more timely information for decision making
-Improving security by preventing assets from leaving premises
2. Asset Tracking: Current manual processes of locating equipment are labor intensive and inefficient. Using iBeacon technology staff are able to quickly and accurately locate assets without having to search for it everywhere.
Some of the advantages of using beacons for asset tracking include:
-Reducing over-purchasing and equipment rental costs
-Improving staff efficiency and workflow by reducing search times and wait times for ordered equipment
-Increasing equipment utilization
-Automating inventory management
-Reducing equipment shrinkage and loss
3. Process Optimization: Beacons can be used to improve processes within an organization. A good example is Japan Airlines’ use of beacons to help managers locate frontline staff and assign tasks to them based on where they were at that particular moment. Staff near boarding gates could be asked to help customers board the flight etc. This helped them enhance their customer experience to a great extent.
4. Security management teams: The efficiency of teams that are responsible for patrolling buildings can be monitored using beacons. By placing beacons around such buildings, it can be ensured that each member of the team has covered the necessary checkpoints that need to be checked to ensure security. If that does not happen, a notification is triggered to the concerned department.
5. In the construction and maintenance Industry: Beacons can be placed in areas of high risk, or on machinery, to push contextual back-end server information to mobile apps. This data can include product information, alerts and checklists, as well as critical health and safety documentation for employees when out in the field. Jobs that require checklists to be ticked off, can utilise beacons to activate the correct list for the right environment, improving user experience.
6. In transport and logistics enterprises: Beacons placed in transport hubs could be used to push value-added services such as transfer or car hire information to passengers as soon as they get out of the airport. They could also be used in other transport hubs including ferry ports or freight train stations to send alerts and collect logistics data.
7. Mobile device management (MDM) at organizations: At the moment, if an organization needs to disable mobile device features on office premises, they are disabled across the entire campus or building. In reality, however, there are only certain areas that require features or apps to be temporarily disabled. MDM can be enhanced by beacons to enable or disable features such as, the camera, microphone or volume settings. This will give organisations better control of employee mobile devices to ensure secure company data isn’t compromised.
Thus, beacons provide innumerable opportunities in the enterprise. Are there any other use cases you can think of? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!