Push notifications on mobile devices have existed for years and, to be honest, they can even be a bit annoying sometimes. But Australian software company Gruntify managed to save one company hundreds of thousands of dollars through its app with the help of notifications.
Gruntify was born out of a Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) hackathon. The TMR was looking for a solution to streamline data capture and task management for a graffiti management project. Gruntify created a Microsoft Azure-based data capture app and workflow engine that won the TMR over.
Today a number of public and private sector companies are using the Gruntify platform for data collection and job assignments; it's particularly useful for teams that have to work in the field. Workers are able to upload real-time reports through a native app on a mobile device and the information then gets submitted to an Azure hosted management portal.
"The real smarts are in this portal, where office personnel manage, map and action incoming data," Gruntify CEO Jamie Leach said. She was a presenter at Microsoft Ignite 2017. "Azure’s spatial data capabilities are leveraged to ensure only geographically-relevant data is available to individual users - avoiding teams in Townsville being alerted to a report in Toowoomba."
Now what do push notifications have to do with all of this? I'm getting to it.
Gruntify uses Azure's API management as a turn-key solution to publish two-way APIs for front-end data collection and back-end integration with customer systems. The Gruntify platform is able to send out alerts through its app to field workers for job assignments and updates. Again, none of this is exactly new but it’s the monetary impact push notifications can have on a business that is surprising.
"[Push notifications] is not the most exciting API out there but a lot of our clients traditionally use costly SMS to communicate with their client base… Push notifications significantly reduces the cost," Leach said. "One of our clients managed to save over $700,000 each year just on their communication."
Even when your company has a wholesale SMS arrangement that could significantly reduce the cost of every text that's sent, it all adds up. In scenarios where you have to notify users of job updates and changes numerous times on a daily basis, push notifications make sense.
I followed up with Gruntify to find out more information about the client (a public sector organisation that could not be named):
"This entity was using at least 10,000,000 SMS notifications annually to communicate with their staff, volunteers, customers and general public. At a wholesale corporate rate of 7c per SMS," Leach told Lifehacker Australia. "You can purchase 10,000,000 push notifications for approximately US$12. This does not even take into consideration that a number of the stakeholders are external to the entity and were using their own devices to respond to the messaging, thus bearing a personal cost.
"By communicating within the Gruntify platform, this additional personal cost has largely been removed."
She noted that push notifications can be used across a broad range of industries and is particularly useful for public safety purposes.
"Emergency response agencies attempting to coordinate operations across various agencies and stakeholder groups. In the case of public safety when the community wish to report issues and the responders wish to discretely communicate for validation or clarification of reports," Leach said. "Even in the aviation field where various departments of an organisation want to share data and respond internally. We are working with a number of these industries and consulting to more each week that passes. The use-cases for this type of technology are virtually endless."
While we often take push notifications for granted, especially from consumer mobile apps like Facebook, it's interesting to see them used in a business workflow context and the financial impact they can have.
Spandas Lui travelled to Microsoft Ignite 2017 in the Gold Coast as a Guest of Microsoft.