While geolocation through apps such as Foursquare on social networking sites such as Facebook is revolutionising the way we socialise and discover new places, it's an equally valuable tool for business, enabling a new approach not just to understanding customers, but offering a multitude of opportunities for forward-looking companies to enhance the way they do business.
"We have become used to checking in to cafés, bars, restaurants, parks, offices and pretty much anyplace else. This has opened up a rich experience where friends can recommend places for you to go or things for you to do and see nearby. But why limit this to social networking? This technology is adding another dimension to the mobile marketing toolkit for businesses," explains Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings.
Retailers, for example, can offer not only store location information, but location-specific specials. Restaurants and cafés can obtain real-time reviews and feedback. Even banks can benefit from this technology. And its uses are not limited to customer-facing organisations: real-time tracking of vehicles and merchandise is already commonplace.
"Geolocation can provide a fourth level of authentication in financial transactions – if your bank knows you live in Johannesburg and sees activity on your credit card in Cape Town, they can immediately check for fraudulent activity. Or, if your ATM card has been stolen, the banks could use geolocation to pinpoint the exact ATM machine where the thieves are trying to withdraw money. Similarly, real-time monitoring of merchandise has never been easier, and manufacturers or retailers can track exactly where an item or shipment is at any given time," Firth explains.
In fact, locally developed !Waytag has taken this type of location-based service to a new level. Providing a permanent geolocation address, a !Waytag can be used by individuals or businesses to offer a simple way of finding something or someone, and integrates with popular location-based services such as Foursquare. Privacy is not an issue, as !Waytag owners can choose where, when and with whom they share their information.
"Right now, geolocation apps seem to be mainly about fun. But as geolocation technology proves its usefulness in more business-oriented applications, such as those used by public safety and news-gathering professionals, logistics, etc, increasingly smart, convenient and enjoyable apps are changing the way we approach the issue of location. Understanding the spatial network of 'who' and 'what' in business is as necessary as 'where' and 'when' these days. If you haven't already looked at location-based services for your company, can you afford not to?" Firth concludes.
MIP Holdings is one of the world's leaders in the provision of 'risk-based' billing services to mainly, but not exclusively, the financial services industry. The company designs and develops software solutions that focus on the collection of contributions and payment of benefits in the healthcare, employee benefits and life assurance industries, as well as in personal finance, integrated lending systems and treasury.
With a focus on meeting client-specific requirements and through extensive investment in technology, MIP 'future proofs' its solutions. Strict adherence to industry standards, as well as stringent internal control over standards and quality assurance, ensure that the systems MIP develops meet all client expectations.
Expanding into the telecoms sector through its purchase of Itemate, MIP Holdings provides telecoms operations and management solutions to communications service providers worldwide. The company's specific skills in the area of mobile prepaid value chains, prepaid product life cycle management analysis, voucher management systems and mobile financial services enable it to provide an end-to-end service. Its most recent acquisition, Waytag, further enhanced the company's ability to provide a comprehensive solution to its clients through the unique Waytag offering of location-based services.
MIP Holdings was founded in 1989 and is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional offices in Cape Town and Pretoria.