Imagine a business trip in an unfamiliar city. You need printouts of the presentation. A few taps on the smartphone, and the nearest printer location is found based on your phone location. You’ve just been geotagged.
The emergence of geotagging, which allows the addition of geographical identification metadata to such media as photos, video, websites, and QR codes, has gone a long way in helping users find information based specifically on location.
Instead of customers finding businesses, they’re finding the consumer. Mobile options are changing the way public-sector organizations and enterprises interact with both visitors and long-standing customers alike, creating opportunities that go far beyond the limited information that was offered up in the past. The lines of personal and professional social networking are blurring.
The future of geotagging
This emerging technology provides businesses with more opportunities to reach out to potential customers who might have overlooked them in the past, forging relationships with new clients and customers who are specifically searching for that type of business.
Taking that usage to the next level, user reviews are now incorporated with search results, providing more thorough information and creating a more dynamic geotagging experience.
Improving upon this concept, an experimental tool from HP Labs called Gloe maps web content to a specific geographic location to provide a platform for location-based information for mobile users. Bernardo Huberman, HP Senior Fellow and director of the Social Computing Lab at HP Labs, says this innovative approach to geotagging expands the existing opportunities and makes it more valuable for users.
“What we did was add a social component allowing people to make recommendations because they have local knowledge about [a business],” Huberman says. “So if you fly to a new city and want to eat Thai food, you can find recommendations for a Thai food restaurant. And it’s not just from strangers on [an online directory], but from people in your own social network.”
“The idea is to start aggregating bottom-up social knowledge about information specific to a site,” Huberman says.
Relevant and personal social networking
Perhaps the best example of Gloe’s usefulness comes from HP’s own ePrint Enterprises, which incorporates Gloe to inform users of where to find nearby printers — regardless of where they may be.
“Say you are traveling and want to print out some papers, and so you use ePrint to get a list of printing services,” he says. “With Gloe, not only can you find out which one is cheaper or better or more reliable based on customer reviews, but after you go, you can add your own comments.”
He says this new dimension adds depth to the mobile experience, allowing for more information than a search engine could provide. “It’s essentially canvassing what I call a ‘social mind’ — it’s the collective brain of people knowing about something and putting that information out there for others to use.”
Geotagging for business
The implications for businesses are tremendous. Social media already enables businesses to reach out to customers who might have otherwise overlooked them, and Gloe makes the geotagging experience more personal and effective.
“It is essentially allowing us to go to any part of the world and get information that is not provided by a travel guide or restaurant guide, but rather by people who live or have been there,” Huberman says. “In principle, you trust your friends’ recommendations. This takes that to a whole new level.”
Hear about future innovation trends in the February 21st Innovation Insight webcast. Join HP Enterprise Services CTO Chris Moyer for his views on “Five forces that could make or break the next-generation enterprise.” Register now.