Everything You Need to Know About iBeacons
Beacons could soon become a retailers’ best friend, by helping them collect consumer data and interact with shoppers. The location-based technology can be used to trigger features on customers’ smartphones, including targeted coupons, store maps and hands-free payment options.
How Do Beacons Work?
Beacons are small wireless devices that constantly broadcast radio signals to nearby smartphones and tablets. Mobile apps can pick up these signals, which trigger location-based actions.
What is an iBeacon?
iBeacon is Apple’s version of a beacon and is an off-the-shelf option for retailers. Apple has filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission, suggesting that it wants to manufacture hardware, however at the moment, iBeacon is a system built into the latest version of Apple iOS 7 mobile operating system.
As it stands, iBeacon allows iPads and iPhones to constantly scan for nearby Bluetooth devices. When iBeacon identifies a beacon, it can wake up relevant apps on someone's phone, even when an app is closed and not running in the background. Additionally, iPads and iPhones can act as beacons; they can emit beacon signals to wake up apps on other iOS devices.
Rooted in Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, Apple’s iBeacons are already proving to have more potential in terms of real-world application and uptake. Firstly, the range of NFC is tiny. That's the point; you have to physically “tap” to connect. The range for iBeacons is up to 50 metres, and yet the precision is reported to be exceptional. Before iBeacons, devices relied on GPS and Wi-Fi triangulation to pin point a location. iBeacons place you to within feet by using BLE (Bluetooth low energy) – a smarter version of Bluetooth that isn't affected by physical barriers and uses almost no battery life.
What Do Beacons Mean for Retailers?
While NFC offered retailers the novelty factor, it fails to fulfill a genuine need. However iBeacon, for the first time, offers retailers a simple, cost-effective way of connecting with customers – not only as they walk through the door, but as they browse, queue for a service or indeed make a purchase. iBeacon can be used in multiple ways; to connect with customers and welcome them to the store, to send them vouchers and discount codes, to engage with them on social media and other online networks or to take payment for goods. iBeacon has the potential to help with marketing, customer retention, data collection and sales.
Despite Apple’s very soft launch, iBeacons are causing quite a stir among retailers, with some already rolling the technology out in stores. Lord & Taylor stores across the U.S. and select Hudson Bay stores in Canada will be launching iBeacons in store over the next few weeks, offering customers insight into the future of shopping. Users will have to have the corresponding app pre-loaded to their iPhone or iPad to see the notifications.
So is this the future of shopping? One thing seems very clear: the battle to win the mobile location-tracking space has ignited. Some ideas are half-baked. As for iBeacons? Many will be watching Apple's turnover. Once again, they seem poised to steal the limelight.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.