That's what the Internet of Things is all about. Some have expressed a concern that we are losing our connection with the real world. Interestingly, it is looking as though the actual results may be just the opposite.

One of the less recognized benefits of the mobile digital revolution is that it has freed an internet-dependent population from their computers. “Five years ago, when we were talking about a digital consumer, we were still talking about someone at home, in their kitchen, looking at their Facebook feed and waiting for something to move,” says Jeff Russakow, CEO of Gimbal, a leading mobile engagement and location intelligence company. “Now, the human race has literally gone back out into the light. They're still probably looking at that Facebook feed, but now they're at a restaurant, at a store, at a sports stadium, or a museum.”

Gimbal uses a combination of beacons, geofences, analytics, and other management tools to help businesses and venues better serve customers who opt in to sharing their location on their mobile devices. Of course, getting customers to opt in requires a business to make it worth their while. “84 percent of mobile users are more than happy to share location data, if there is enough value in return,” says Russakow. “That's a key if.”

The most innovative businesses, however, have found some very interesting ways to generate that value. One coffee shop, for example, allows their customers to place their orders in advance through the app, so that they don't need to wait when they arrive at the shop. But, what if traffic is bad and it takes them an extra ten minutes to get there? No one wants tepid coffee. The shop now uses geofencing to have the app notify them as soon as the customer is a certain distance away, so that they can start preparing the coffee at the exact right moment to have it steaming hot just as the customer walks in the door.

Rogers Communications is partnering with Gimbal to offer proximity-based solutions to Canadian retail businesses and venues like stadiums and theatres.  “People are busy, they demand a quick and personalized service when they go into a retail store or any other large venue,” says Ignacio Paz, General Manager, IoT at Rogers Communications. Time is a constraint for everyone, and these technologies allow us to make the most of people’s time by communicating to them in a new and innovative way. Proximity-based solutions have great potential in delivering an enhanced in-person experience by providing customers with relevant, tailored content and offers within the store or venue.”

"Our focus is to enable larger enterprises to in turn enable the smaller businesses.”

As Gimbal works to make these solutions available to businesses of every size, partnering with large enterprises like Rogers has become a key part of the plan. “Our focus is to enable larger enterprises to in turn enable the smaller businesses,” says Russakow.

Even as larger companies have embraced the Internet of Things, for small and medium businesses there has been a real barrier to connecting their digital customers back to their real world presence. If companies like Gimbal and Rogers can make that barrier disappear, we can expect to be amazed at suddenly living in a future where, everywhere we go, our coffee is always hot. Coffee is a metaphor here.