Challenges of location based solutions (LBS)
Location based solutions have entered the mainstream and have a tremendous future – however, they have several challenges to overcome before becoming ubiquitous. Here are a few to mention:
Time to market
Contrary to belief, providing location based solutions are a lot more than just turning location awareness “on” in an application. Location calculations or rather geolocation related calculations and computations are overly complex and require heavy duty experience with GIS. How is an average application developer expected to take an idea, that simply relies on location data, to market quickly? This involves creating an entire and elaborate backend system – just to provide location related functionality in their applications. Time to market and costs associated with such applications are a barrier to an average application developer’s foray into location based solutions. Application development costs are very expensive with no guaranteed income. Application developers spend on an average 8K to 150K but 68% of developers don’t break even.
True, even ubiquitous applications like twitter and facebook are already leveraging location based tagging, posts etc. but many surveys prove that users are not as savvy as a developer would expect. There are well documented studies of brands’ efforts of location based marketing and the challenges average users faced with such campaigns. The mere nature of fast changing and voluminous location data necessarily involves big and fast data at its core. This means that any application looking to leverage location data has to be leveraging big and fast data technologies from the onset. What further compounds the problem that location data can be obtained from GPS, A-GPS, Wifi, Cell-IDs, GeoIPs etc. This necessarily means that a developer needs to not only understand these technologies but be able to create technologies that understands and abstracts all these technologies.
Limited penetration of smartphones
Despite and contrary to popular belief, smart phones still have limited penetration in the global markets. While in the developed markets, the penetration is growing and has passed 50% in total, major markets like Africa and south east Asia still rely on feature phones and non-GPS related technologies. This means that developers are leaving a lot of money on the table by not being able to market their products to these growing economies.
ROI of adverts
As most marketers and brands would agree with, it is very important that ads are location and context relevant to capture the users’ interest. Marketers are continuously grappling with the issues of optimizing ad spends because of this. Connecting offline-online user behavior is again a complicated exercise and it leaves a big gap in understanding the target audience well.