Right after Apple revealed the support for iBeacons in iOS7, I together with a couple of colleagues identified a vital gap in all of the ideas on how the Beacon technology could be used. When everyone was talking about using Beacons as a communication device and a solution to create smarter wayfinding, we saw Beacons as a promising technology for customers to get access to service. Service provided by human beings.

Beacon Check In

Now, some two years later where do we stand on the Beacon technology? With clients around the world, we have delivered solutions enabling their customers to check in to a physical location automatically using a mobile app and beacons. The technology works and it’s actually a bit cool when the phone awakes, greet you by name and ask you to check in for your appointment.

But we also see some challenges with the technology in regards to making it mainstream; where the key issue is the need for a native app. A Nielsen analysis found that on average, U.S. smartphone users accessed 26.7 apps per month in the fourth quarter of 2014—a number that has remained relatively flat over the last two years. In addition to this over 70% of the total usage is coming from the top 200 apps. So, even if Apple is fantastic in creating ecosystems, in this context having hundred and thousands of service providers around the world in need for technology that empowers customers and staff, everyone using their own app to provide localized services is hard to see.

With this in mind it’s not difficult to understand that I got quite excited when Google’s Scott Jenson last year revealed a project called The Physical Web to provide “interaction on demand” so that people can walk up and use any smart devices without the need for intervening mobile apps.

A mobile customer journey solution is the glue between the virtual and physical world empowering customers to act more freely, reserve a time with a service provider and understand where to get the fastest service. It allows for a seamless and efficient customer experience. It provides the means for a service provider to offer a personalized experience and to communicate with customers before they arrive to the physical location.

I firmly believe that people should be able to walk up to any smart device – for example, a self-service kiosk, a digital signage screen, a meet and greeter with a tablet – and not have to download an app first. Everything should be just a tap away.

Inspired by a Google use case and to demonstrate how easy it is to connect to a Customer Journey Application I did this Physical Web Demo in my living room; having an Estimote beacon sending out a URL using the Eddystone format.

I am excited to see where this will take us. What do you think, Beacons, The Physical Web or other technologies – What’s around the corner in creating seamless customer journeys?