Facebook Deals presents “major technical challenge” for businesses

The use of location-based applications, such as Facebook Deals, could present a "major technical challenge" for businesses trying to respond to user events in real-time, a chief technology officer has warned.

The use of location-based applications, such as Facebook Deals, could present a "major technical challenge" for businesses trying to respond to user events in real-time, a chief technology officer has warned.

Facebook Deals was launched in the UK today. The mobile application feature develops Facebook Places, which allows users to 'check-in' to locations. Combined with Facebook Deals, users are provided with retailer promotions via location-based advertising.

A Facebook spokesman told Computer Weekly, "Deals are free for businesses and they give businesses the opportunity to reward loyal customers with discounts and other special offers, so they can build valuable relationships with this influential audience."

But Giles Nelson, deputy CTO at Progress Software, warned location-based services could cause technical problems.

"A key challenge for any organisation thinking about delivering a location-based application or service is how to ensure it scales and allows the sophisticated types of interaction that are possible," said Nelson.

Nelson said dealing with the quantity of location events that thousands of users produce and responding to them in real time is a "major technical challenge". Technologies such as complex event processing (CEP) can help.

"For example, most location-based applications require a strong real-time element. Location-based information is a perfect example of an event, usually reported over a mobile network and delivered to a mobile device," he said.

"However, there is no point delivering a location-based store coupon to an end-user after he or she has walked on past the store," added Nelson.

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