The Where Factor: Location Intelligence and the Competitive Edge

Author

Hugo Moreno, Contributor

April 22, 2015

The convergence of business intelligence and big data has given rise to data-driven organizations—organizations that use data to direct business practices, marketing, new product development and other operational activities. But business intelligence platforms typically miss an important dimension of data analysis: location.

A recent report by Forbes Insights, in association with Pitney Bowes, The Eureka Moment: Location Intelligence and Competitive Insight,” examines this additional layer of intelligence and its uses.

Visualizing data by location can be meaningful for business in several ways. Primarily, it can help reveal relationships between customers or operational data and geography—this might help a telecommunications company, for example, understand where to add new towers to its network to boost flagging signals in an underserved or growing area. In mapping different types of data—such as storm patterns, infrared heat signatures or waterways—previously unseen spatial relationships can be brought to light and, as a result, decision making can be improved.

Traditionally, this kind of intelligence has been the responsibility of highly compartmentalized, highly specialized geographic information systems (GIS) and their users. But the evolution of these tools has democratized both the access to and the insights within and throughout the organizations that use them. New insights can be gained from something as simple as taking data off a spreadsheet and placing it on a map, revealing previously overlooked relationships.

Forbes Insights interviewed senior executives and officials from the public and private sector and in a number of industries to understand the efficiencies and competitive advantages location intelligence helps their organizations create. During research, three key themes emerged: location intelligence and its relation to business intelligence; using location intelligence to create competitive advantage; and the trend of consumerization.

If, as is commonly estimated, 80% of all business data contains a location component, it is critical to understand how location affects business. Properly analyzing location can provide insights that support and improve decision-making in everything from marketing to supply chain logistics and operations. Yet traditional business intelligence platforms typically lack this functionality.

“Most business intelligence systems will give you no special view of the data,” says Pitney Bowes’s James Buckley, SVP of Location intelligence. “They won’t go to that next level of analysis and answer questions about, for example, the geo- demographic characteristics of your market, or what it might say about why people are buying certain products in one area versus another. Asking and being able to answer those kinds of questions can reveal really useful insights for a business.”

Analyzing data by location allows businesses to ask and accurately answer questions such as “where are my customers?” or “how far are my customers from my location?” as well as “how well does my supply chain service those customers?”

In a commercial environment where price is less and less relevant as a differentiator, businesses do need to find ways to improve their responses to market conditions and their customers’ experiences in order to earn competitive advantage. And location intelligence is increasingly recognized as a tool to reveal and create those opportunities to innovate.

In recent years, both affordability and ease of use have increased. With the rise of Google Earth and mobile mapping applications, consumers are increasingly skilled in using maps and layering information to make decisions in their own everyday lives.

In turn, software vendors are increasingly gearing spatial analytics products toward everyday business professionals. The resulting offerings feature intuitive interfaces, live editing capabilities and significantly reduced training timeframes for new users. And democratized access to the data offers opportunities for other benefits to be realized, whether strengthening bids, improving strategy or finding opportunities to reduce costs.

This article was written by Hugo Moreno from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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