O2 Business announced the launch of Spatial Insights, a new technology that uses video analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize the use of retail and other public spaces. The operator is testing the service at 20 of its high-street stores and will also offer the platform to business customers.
The system is expected to help deliver insights about customer movement and flow in O2 shops, enabling managers to make informed space and capacity management decisions. It can also help improve customer experience and efficiency by reducing service and transaction times, and monitoring queue lengths, dwell times and conversion rates on certain products.
O2 Business has partnered with Aura Vision to deliver Spatial Insights to organizations managing retail, leisure, transport and other public spaces. It uses AI to deliver real-time and historical anonymized, encrypted insights to aid store management, staffing levels, marketing, vendor management and the wider customer experience.
Spatial Insights captures privacy-protected analytics from existing CCTV cameras, without the use of facial recognition. All insights are delivered in an anonymized way, with all personal identifiable information stripped out.
O2 says that Spatial Insights can be used for occupancy monitoring and assessing efficient usage of space; monitoring and analyzing the flow and movement of people within an environment; understanding how customers interact with services; and giving organizations a better understanding of their customers and visitors so that they can offer a more tailored experience.
The system uses 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi connections to collect data, and O2 expects the adoption of faster 5G networks will further improve the service in future. This will improve both download and uplink speeds of video and reduce latency so that insights can be used in real time to drive automated decisions.
O2’s new AI-enabled customer movement analytic service seems like a good offering for business clients of the operator, as well as for companies that may not yet have a relationship with the operator. However, the first thing that O2 is doing with Spatial Insights is using it on itself.
Using its own retail shops as test cases for Spatial Insights seems like a savvy marketing strategy that could have the effect of convincing retail and other businesses that the solution could work for them, too. The only drawback is that the customers who frequent O2’s high-street shops are not very likely to be executives at target companies; however, if any such decision-makers who have found out about Spatial Insights through another channel wish to see how it works, demonstrations and case studies can be had via O2’s own stores. Certainly for the operator, testing the system on itself, so to speak, is a very low-cost, low-risk way of trialing and promoting the product.
Working with a technology partner to develop an AI-enabled system appears to be a very valid way for an operator to enhance its standing with business clients and derive revenue from a sophisticated, non-traditional service with growth potential. Emphasizing the anonymous nature of the gathered data is important because consumers—and consequently businesses that deal with consumers—are ever-more concerned about privacy violations in the mobile internet realm.