As a dad with daughters (or sons), one of your primary responsibilities is to help them with school projects. Putting stereotypes aside, or attempting to cause outrage with my 1950’s assumptions, at least in my house (and many others that I know of), mom acts as the project manager. Scheduling time for your child to work on her project. Making sure that she has gone to the library and searched the web for the proper research materials. Helping them write the report and typing it up on the computer. Then comes you, the dad. You come armed with your tools, scrap building materials, and your unrelenting desire to build something cool.
A few months ago I was promoted to Chief Technology Officer at ShopAdvisor. With that title change came a lot of new responsibilities, but it also came with several new opportunities. We’ve been working hard over the last several years to find the right market fit for our technology. After our recent successes with Elle Magazine and proximity programs for retailers, we’ve found ourselves needing to round out our engineering team with some new hires. I knew this would be an uphill battle here in the Northeast, given the current job market, but it was an exciting challenge to take on.
We followed the standard playbook. We put together the job descriptions (and then added some marketing flair), posted them in a few places, and reached out to some agencies. We also bought access into a resume search engines, just to give it a whirl. We got the standard influx of resumes that one would expect. Lots of highly qualified candidates, but sponsorship was a challenge that a small company like ours didn’t want to take on. We got several resumes of not-so-qualified candidates as well. We also started getting A LOT of calls from agencies that we never engaged with. There were some good resumes that we saw; there were even some great ones.
I’ve been doing a lot of work lately with beacons and geofences as we ramp up our proximity offerings at ShopAdvisor. There are some very cool things being done by companies such as Skyhook, Urban Airship, and Gimbal. Other companies such as Swirl and Mobiquity are also using micro-location with beacons to record interesting foot traffic patterns in malls and retail stores. Well established players like ShopKick are using beacons to earn in-store rewards, and Starbucks, Apple Stores, and Macy’s have all jumped on the micro-location/beacon bandwagon.
What I’ve discovered with all my research and talking with many of these companies, is that most are still defaulting to simply sending a push notification when a beacon is sighted or a geofenced region is entered. I don’t think this is the intention or the vision of these companies, in fact, many have elaborate scenarios documented on their websites. I think the problem here is with the retailers. I don’t think it is because their vision is short-sighted, more likely, it’s just extremely limited. This certainly isn’t a criticism of retailers, as I know many are quite interested in beacons and micro-location. I think the closed “network” of beacons is what has made truly interesting campaigns difficult, if not impossible.
I came across an headline on Medium this morning that grabbed my attention. The subheading softened it a bit, but nonetheless, I was intrigued. The article, titled “A Self-Driving Car Might Decide You Should Die”, used a series of well-known ethics questions to reach the author’s ultimate point. That point, at least what I got from it was, if you build an algorithm that removes human error by calculating the optimal outcome of a life-threatening situation, how do you assign value to human life so you can choose who lives and who dies? It is in the programming of this algorithm that our values are truly reflected, and that is, in fact, very scary.