Uber Can Seem Like Magic
If you are the Digital Native type, it's hard to imagine the world now without Uber. If you try hard, you can think back to those days - a couple of years ago! - when we all actually would have to call for a taxi. If you were lucky enough to get a person called a 'dispatcher', there was usually a long and uncertain wait ahead.
Or think of all that wasted energy spent in any major urban city when the rain starts falling, waving hopelessly at cabs that are all full.
Uber changed all of that - instantly it seemed, almost like someone had waved a magic wand. You open an app, request a car and within seconds you receive a confirmation and estimated time or arrival that is usually just a few minutes later. You calmly finish sipping your coffee and stroll outside to meet your private driver. All that for a substantial discount off the same ride in a taxi.
But There's No Magic: Just Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps - and Smartphones
But Uber is not magic. It is just a tremendously compelling example of the transformational power of combining:
- navigation quality positioning;
- navigation quality maps; and
- ubiquitous smartphones.
Once those three foundations are in place, the rest is all software. Add a few crucial pieces of business logic and filtering and suddenly, thousands of independent actors - drivers on one side and people looking for a ride on the other - are able to self-organize a hyper-efficient operation for ride sharing.
None of this is meant to diminish Uber's achievement in the quality of its user experience, technical execution, incredibly rapid scaling and operational expertise. It's simply to point out that from the standpoint of software, there is nothing particularly unique or difficult about it.
Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps Will Create Similar Opportunities for Efficiency Gains Indoors
To us this seems blindingly obvious. Sure, the first "killer application" of high quality indoor positioning and maps is navigation, and that is where we have focused our energies as we entered the market.
But that truly is just the tip of the iceberg. Navigation itself is really just an enabling User Experience. We always start our product meetings by reminding ourselves that no patient or visitor to a hospital comes to have "an Indoor Navigation experience." They come to get to their appointment. Our mission is to make that as painless - hopefully even pleasurable - and efficient as possible, and Indoor Navigation is one of the best ways to achieve that.
But we also spend a lot of time thinking about what other users and use cases would benefit from navigation - and navigation quality maps and indoor positioning. The list is a long one - ranging across operations, work flow, security, facility management an more.
It is absolutely clear that over time all the same benefits in terms of operations, logistics, analytics and business intelligence that have accrued from outdoor GPS and navigation will translate to large, complex indoor facilities, campuses and networks.
The Uber-ization of the Enterprise
We call this concept the Uber-ization of the Enterprise. Sure - in part because its a catchy phrase. But it also captures what is essential - and somewhat underappreciated today - about the revolution of Indoor Mapping, Navigation and Location-services. That is: there is no one killer app, but rather successive waves of innovation to come, each with increasing efficiency gains.
When the government blasted all those GPS satellites into space and NavTech (far before Google) set about building navigation quality maps of the world, nobody was thinking about competing with taxis. And even Uber itself is no longer thinking about competing just with taxis, but more generally about "revolutionizing transportation and logistics."
So yes, its not a stretch in our view to think that we can help our Enterprise clients - or more specifically the people that must get around their very large and complex facilities, campuses and networks - to self-organize and coordinate their navigation and flow to achieve big gains in efficiency.
One Example: Our New Shuttle Tracker Feature
We are going to be breaking new ground in a number of important areas in our deployments this Fall. . One that speaks to directly to this concept is integrating the location data of campus shuttle vans directly into our mobile application. Here we can take advantage of our unique ability to:
- close the gap between the Indoor Map and the Outdoor Map;
- track the position of the user; and
- integrate and display the position of other users - or in this case vehicles;
to provide a service that is truly compelling, useful - and transformative in at least this small part of the user experience.
Our Shuttle Tracker feature will enable us to show users:
- where the nearest shuttle van is currently on the map;
- provide its estimated time of arrival to the pick-up location closest to that user; and of course
- get that user to their pick-up location efficiently and on time to meet their shultte with turn-by-turn indoor navigation.
No - these are shuttle vans - so you won't be to order one to come pick you up on demand. Not yet, anyways! But that's definitely the direction this can head.
In the meantime, we can make the user's experience of waiting for that van a lot better by giving them visibility into what is going on. No more staring at your watch and wondering. Sip your coffee and relax! Or, if you are just leaving an appointment, we can provide your estimated time-to-destination inside the building- and compare that to the Van - to check if you will make the next pick-up!
This is just the first step. It's not too hard to imagine where we can go step-by-step as the app is deployed Enterprise wide - to caregivers, operations, security, drivers, vendors - anyone that needs to get around this enormous campus and complex buildings.
Stay tuned for more on that as we get closer to launch!