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How Uber Puts Location Intelligence in the Fast Lane

by Jon Spinney | July 1, 2014 | No Comments

UberHow many of us have stood on a sidewalk hailing and flailing down a cab with gusto during rush-hour traffic? Or waited in the rain or snow for a ride, only for none to show? Uber, a San Francisco-based high-tech car service, is making those memories obsolete. Simply download the Mobile App and Uber connects you with the nearest available driver. Get picked up anywhere – rain, snow, or rush hour – even if you don’t know the address.

It’s no surprise that Uber has expanded to 38 different countries and 131 cities since it was founded in 2009. After all, who would stand waving in the street for a taxi for 30 minutes when simply tapping a button on their Smartphone would get them a ride in just minutes?

In our connected, mobile world, many of us now rely on mobile location-based applications like Uber to help us bridge the physical with the digital. We do it elsewhere too. We compare products online with ones sitting on the shelf in front of us, we make reservations online and visit restaurants, we share knowledge locally with neighbors and then visit with them in person to discuss insights. We have grown to expect this level of connectivity & community—from the workplace, to home, and everywhere in between.

But, Uber isn’t the first to use Mobility and Location to enhance its service. Think about every time you have requested a package pick up from the Postal Service. Behind the scenes, they are busy determining the driver closest to you and the one with the least number of stops before yours, to minimize the time it takes to get to you. Uber just brings this type of location tracking (and sharing) to an old industry in desperate need of modernization.

For companies in all types of industries, there are benefits to using Mobility & Location technologies:

Outshine the Competition

Finding people and places are “the price of entry” for all businesses if they want to compete in this constantly-connected landscape. As we’ve seen with the coming of Uber, Lyft, and other similar location-smart ride services, disconnected taxis across the world have taken a backseat. With an old-school taxi service, whether a rider has called ahead or not, there’s no way of knowing whether a cab will show up at all. And there’s definitely no information on the amount of time it will take a cab to get to you.

Uber gives taxi riders three things they’ve never guaranteed: power, control, and comfort. That builds customer excitement and loyalty, which could ultimately mean outperforming your competitors.

Improve the Customer Experience

When it comes down to it, collecting data about your customers is all about improving their experience. Data is a way for any business to keep tabs on what’s working for them and, more importantly, what’s not working. Uber, in particular, uses geodata to better match its drivers with rider preferences. An informed customer is a happy customer.

Better Business Decisions

The more data businesses can collect and analyze on how they’re functioning, the easier it is to make successful business decisions. Uber uses data to predict traffic patterns and the average wait time before a car arrives. This allows Uber to make better business and product strategy decisions that will improve operations, customer experience, and – you guessed it – profits.

Location-based applications will be paramount for companies across every industry to thrive.  From informing their entry into new markets, to improving customer service capabilities, the use of Location technologies will be key to success.

For more on how to take advantage of GIS for better business results, please read our latest piece “Consumerization of GIS or download our recent webinar, “Transforming GIS – Change the Way You Map the World,” which introduces MapInfo Professional version 12.5.

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