Foursquare. Gowalla. SCVNGR. Facebook.
Which is most familiar to you? I'm going to bet it's Facebook.
If you are aware of the former three entries, then you are probably well aware of the direction this post will take. For those who think Foursquare refers to that great schoolyard game we all played once upon a time, a little explanation is in order.
This week Facebook announced its new location-based service (LBS). LBS lets users "check in" to various locations via a mobile device, and allows friends or followers to see those check-ins. Facebook offering this new service is news because, while late to the game (Foursquare has been the hot choice for about a year, Gowalla makes a formidable competitor, and SCVNGER takes a slightly different tact), its incredible user base immediately makes it the largest provider of this type of service.
LBS is a trendy topic because inherent is a nearly natural revenue stream, mostly for retail and consumer products. For instance, soon-to-be parents who have recently broadcast that they are expecting might get a coupon for diapers pushed to them the first time they check in or are near a grocery store. (Sidenote: The whole thing reminds me of a scene from Minority Report where retinal scans offered consumers a barrage of personalized advertising.)
Following the announcement, of course, come concerns over privacy, which you can read about here and here. These are obviously very real concerns, ones which Facebook users have to consider as they begin to orient themselves with the service. (On a personal note, while I'm an avid fan of social media, I haven't yet gotten comfortable with the idea of LBS.)
But what inspired today's post, was a Facebook post by the David All Group, a Washington, D.C. consulting organization that helps individuals or organizations leveraging digital media create winning public policy and/or campaign strategies. The post provides some very foundational recommendations on how LBS should be considering in the strategy of, well, nearly anything.
While the inclination is to view LBS as a marketing, brand, and sales tool, we, as workforce professionals, must consider how the newest facet of digital social communication impacts the strategic development of our workforce and its tactical performance. Let's consider the possible applications of LBS as it applies to some of our recurring themes on The Seamless Workforce.
Supplier consolidation. Consider a policy that either requires or strongly recommends that non-employees check into the employment location and specify their supplier and project associations. Forget about the possibilities of automated time and expense tracking for a minute, and consider that what the employer gains is an organic list of all non-employee labor that the organization is utilizing and a snapshot of their source.
Employee engagement. Encouraging employees to check in throughout the day and include those that they are working with and their current tasks in the update might create some interesting engagement and collaborative opportunities. For example, to offer the latest internal news on issues related to the task at hand, or for nearby executives to stop in and give the team some attention. Now extrapolate this out to the non-employee segment, and you have a completely connected and engaged workforce.
Recruiting. LBS could inspire impromptu networking events, offers of discovery interviews for coveted resources who might be nearby, increased awareness of employment presence, "send to friends" candidate marketing, and so on.
Employment brand. Consider community service projects. It might be interesting to have employees check-in during community service activities associated with the brand. Are there large events that segments of your employees attend? Trade shows, educational events, etc.? Encouraging them to check-in can demonstrate the involvement of your employees at such events.
The point is that the ongoing maturation of digital social communication must be given proper attention so that we can quickly capitalize on the opportunities it provides. These are, of course, simply immediate ideas that come to mind when considering the impact of LBS on the workforce, but we'd love to hear your suggestions as well. Why not drop a comment and lend your two cents to the discussion?