Geo-spatial services have become a silent force for companies that have adopted them. From boosting consumer service to providing detailed analytics, global position system ( GPS ) technology has driven business efficiencies and increased margins.
Bayu P. Djokosoetono, a commissioner at Blue Bird Group, said that the taxi company had installed GPS devices in at least 20,000 vehicles in its fleet. 'We started out in 1997 with roughly 150 to 200 taxis under our executive fleet, Silver Bird. Now, the whole fleet uses the technology,' he said, referring to the group's Blue Bird regular taxi brand.
He added that the group installed GPS systems in its vehicles because the technology reduced 'lag time' ' the time needed by call center operators to find and send a taxi to pick up a customer. 'Previously, our operators had to radio our drivers, and this method did not provide us with the most accurate information of where our taxis were,' he said.
A study by Oxera that was commissioned by Google claimed that geospatial services saved 1.1 billion hours of travel time per year globally.
In a recent visit to Blue Bird's call center, operators were seen consulting a board lit up with dots representing the position of Blue Bird taxis around town.
Bayu added that GPS systems offered increased security as well. Taxis are equipped with emergency buttons to send off distress signals to other taxis.
'Other taxis can then quickly go to the location of the distressed taxi to provide aid,' he said.
The study by Oxera also shows that GPS systems aid faster emergency response.
Meanwhile, courier company PT Tiki Jalur Nugraha Ekakurir ( JNE ) said that its usage of geo-services was necessary in meeting consumer expectations.
JNE runs tracking systems that are linked to GPS units installed in its delivery vehicles.
According to Chandra Fireta, the finance director of JNE, the company introduced the tracking system to keep up with the evolving demands of customers.
'JNE developed this online tracking system in 2006 because providing a quick and accurate delivery status to our customers has become a required service,' he said.
He added that the tracking system benefited not only customers, but also the company by encouraging adherence to rules.
'The tracking system requires obeying standard operating procedures on every product and service front to guarantee that customers can access delivery status through various media, including mobile applications and websites,' he said.
Bhuwan Kulshreshtha, chief commercial officer of PT Hutchison 3 Telecommunications ( Tri ), added that geo-services have changed his business dramatically by providing a treasure trove of business analytics.
Tri has implemented a system called Next Generation ( NG ), or Angie, displaying sales performance data for the operator's 20,000 registered vendors on Google Maps.
Kulshreshtha added that Angie was Tri's 'eye in the sky' by providing all geographic-related information necessary to design marketing strategies.
'We can detect which areas are densely populated and hence, act as potential places to market our products,' he told The Jakarta Post.
Business efficiencies and intelligence gleaned though geo-services has justified the large investments made, companies have said.
Chandra noted that JNE has invested approximately US$600,000 to develop its tracking system, aiming to bring the technology to its operations at the municipal level.
Bayu added that geo-services, as well as the company's overall information technology infrastructure, have enabled Blue Bird to lower its overhead over the past six years, hence widening its profit margins.
Andrew McGlinchey, product manager at Google, said that geospatial services could 'help businesses become more efficient by reducing costs and helping to optimize the allocation of resources'.
'For instance, the Oxera report shows that for the logistics and freight industry, geo-services such as GPS and other location-based services allow businesses to use real time information to optimize the way they allocate resources, helping them lower labor, fuel and capital costs,' he said.
'JP/ Mariel Grazella