Remember MaqQuest? It's still around, but its flagship product became a commodity after the functionality was integrated into our favorite Internet navigation tool -- search. The company may be finding its way back to relevance with by embracing social + local + mobile in its new offering, MQVibe.

Getting Local

Local has been an emerging trend from the last few years, but it has not managed to quite emerge. It’s not because nobody’s trying or paying attention. The market is cluttered with vendors providing “local” services from deals to advertising to search; even more of these services are rotting away into obscurity. SXSWi sessions such as:

explore about why the trend is misunderstood and how companies can be more effective by incorporating local in addition to mobile and social tools. Yet, despite all of the discussion, nobody has really emerged as a superstar in the space.

Honestly, I haven’t thought about MapQuest for ages. I do a quick restaurant search on my phone. I click directions and it presents me with mostly accurate step-by-step guidance powered by Google. Despite the current dominance of “the Google” and Bing, MapQuest was an innovator in mapping market. Their product is solid, but it is competing against well-financed giants. I spoke with Simon Hill, Senior Product Manager, MapQuest about the social + local + mobile local trend and how MapQuest is embracing it with the new iPhone app, MQVibe.

The Missing Link: Big Data

With Simon Hill, Product Manager, MapQuest at SXSWi

Gamefication, social, local and big data are big topics at conferences like SxSWi and within meeting rooms of companies racing to incorporate these concepts into their business mode. At their core, these technologies are about enabling better engagement, but they can be difficult to get right, but MapQuest is taking a swing at it. All at once. In a single application.

MapQuest has just released the latest version (as in minute before I walked into its temporary house at SxSWi) its new mobile app MQVibe. The application allows users to get recommendations on local businesses and provide feedback. That sounds like Yelp and about a thousand other easily forgettable services. However, this one’s a little different.

Unlike Yelp and similar services, MQVibe, ranks nearby businesses using social feedback and the 15 years of data -- billions of data points -- that MapQuest has collected about where people are going and the things they search for once they arrive.  MapQuest has basically created a new business opportunity by leveraging the data noise generated from its core business activities, which is one of the ways that big data is impacting how organizations do business.



The key thing that organizations should take away from what MapQuest is doing is not build a mobile app or use social, it's to consider what their strengths are and then use technology in an integrated fashion to provide unique and engaging tools for their users.