(note- this is blog post #3 in a 5-part series of blog posts focusing on key learnings from SXSW) The pre-SXSW buzz was all about the new ambient Location-Based applications like Highlight, Glancee and Ban.jo. Did the buzz live up to the hype? Is Foursquare still relevant? What's next for LBS? No, Yes, and Read on. Here's our take:What makes Ambient Location Based Services (LBS) Apps so compelling?The value of these LBS apps provides contextual and social relevance while you're checking in to locations. They are helping to orchestrate serendidipitous meetings with the people around you. We'll let their descriptions tell the story.Glancee:a mobile app that helps you discover and connect with new interesting people around you Highlight: a fun way to learn more about people nearby Ban.jo: a social discovery app that lets you view people's social network profiles based on their location At SXSW, plenty of people were using these apps, but at a conference full of 30,000 techies, is it really helpful to be notified that 370 people are nearby and 47 of them like tacos? Let's be nicer, and back that out to a smaller case study, say at your local coffee shop. There is indeed value if you discover a fellow pottery enthusiast there, but is that value worth it Given the privacy/creepiness factor surrounding these apps? Our argument is no. Learning, discovering and connecting with new, like-minded people with similar personal interests in real-time is best left to us humans. Is Foursquare still relevant?Absolutely. We had the opportunity to listen to Dennis Crowley during his "Making The Real World Easier to Use" keynote. Here are some take-aways from the Q&A sesssion with TechCrunch's MG Siegler. Q: Why aren't you engaging with "auto-discovery" and the likes of Glancee, Highlight and Ban.jo, and other "push" technologies based around location? A: The batteries simply aren't there. They exhaust a phone's suitable life. We're waiting for the hardware to catch up. Q: Are you still going with games as an entry point to Foursquare? Aren't people getting tired of mayorships and badges? A: There is a big difference between making games and making a utility (like Foursquare) that is playful. Badges are still the "gateway drug" for new foursquare users and gets people excited. Points may be neat, but the data behind it is really cool. - data will become more powerful as insights are extracted. Q: Tell us about the value of your data In time, with more users and lots more data, we'll be able to serve up relevant, location-based data that can improve the way you experience everyday life. In three years, looking at a map without any social data will seem silly. When I call up Google maps, I'd like to see what restaurants are recommended to me, what vendors are worthwhile, and much, much more.What's Next for LBS?Picking up on the heels of Reid Hoffman's talk at last year's SXSW, big data still rings true. Data gleaned from social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter will still provide insightful customer data like never before. In the case of LBS applications, here are two examples of how they're putting LBS too good use.Partnerships: One of Foursquare's best relationships is the one they have with American Express. At nearly every restaurant/bar in Austin that week, there was a "spend five-get five" promotion with American Express. If you spent $5, and used your American Express card, you'd automatically receive a $5 credit on your American Express statement. No paperwork to fill out, no survey, just a check-in and a swipe of a card. Now, imagine what American Express and Foursquare can do with that data. Add "location" to American Express' deep library of cardmember data, and you've struck gold- especially with millions more mobile-phone toting consumers.Sonar: Absent from the Ambient LBS discussion above was connecting people with similar professional (LinkedIn) interests. Sonar is one of the few ambient LBS apps that allow for Linkedin integration. If you're at a small conference of 100 people, and you've checked in via Sonar, you'll be notified of shared professional connections. Sonar is the "icebreaker for introverts". Keep an eye out for Sonar in the coming months as they quietly go about their businessWhat should I do?-Never underestimate the value of data. As a marketer you know this, but experiment with this using an LBS tool like foursquare. Use foursquare as a reward, recognition AND customer service tool. -Embrace human nature. No amount of technology replaces the value you get from human interaction. Use a technology to be an ice-breaker and a tool, nothing else. -Experiment. At the next event you go to, check in using foursquare or sonar and follow whatever path it leads you down.