We have a ten-year tradition of attending the Rose Parade in our hometown of Pasadena, California. Year after year we cheer groups like the Martinez Family and the Benny Martinez’s ability to use his lasso the entire length of the 9 km (5.5 miles) route. It has been our way to ring in the New Year in style. We were throw off our game when New Years Day fell on a Sunday and the parade was moved to Monday. Way back in 1893, the organizers decided never to hold the Parade on Sunday.
We have a process for seeing the parade. Millions of people camp out along the route, braving often cold nights and always noisy crowds to get the best seats at the curb. Instead, we drive down Colorado Boulevard the day before and drop off our lawn chairs at Pasadena Yamaha. They have a breakfast buffet for customers that are invited and park a flatbed truck just inside the fence that separates the business from the raucous crowds. It is the perfect way to see the parade with food, bathrooms and an elevated seat.
Our process had a significant hole in it. We didn’t plan for a Sunday New Years Day and we didn’t have our invitation…yet. The Parade was to be held on Monday instead, and Pasadena Yamaha was closed the day before. I do plenty of business there, but hadn’t actually been invited. Our parents taught us well and we don’t go where we’re not invited.
Mobile and social to the rescue
Armed with the owners name and business address, we set out to ‘find’ them in time to invite us. We were utterly failed by indexed search. There was so much SEO/SEM junk that useful information, if it was there, was hidden from us. There had to be a better way.
There were two ways, really. We were on the go and didn’t have the ability to stop at home to use our computers. With Google providing useless results, we went to the Facebook and the White Pages apps. Our phones ‘knew’ our location and could provide the nearest listings for what would have been a common name. By using Facebook, we were able to find a friend of a friend who worked in the shop and send a request to have the owner call us back. It took minutes and was a completely mobile and social enabled solution. It was fast, easy and impossible just a few years ago.
The solutions we found speak volumes about where the business world is going:
- Filters: With too much data available, there must be filters. In our case, that filter was our location. There are 88 cities in LA where they could have been found…our phone’s GPS narrowed it down quickly.
- Networks: With social technology, we were able to tap into a network that essentially crowd-sourced our solution.
- Mobile: This all took place while we moved around Pasadena
If we could do this in a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon, image what can be done with the resources of the corporation.