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Using Location Intelligence to Create and Enable a Smarter Enterprise

Our world is rapidly changing and the availability of massive quantities of structured and unstructured data has created new realities, challenges, and opportunities for businesses today.

In my last blog, I talked about how to harness the power of this data for enterprise location intelligence. Now, let’s take a closer look at how location intelligence plays a role in creating a smart enterprise:

Leveraging Geographic Information Systems

Spatial information provides context, enables relevance and enhances understanding of critical issues such as smart development and improved customer experiences to allow sustainable growth. This understanding can be augmented with non-geospatial information and the new ways of interaction, such as social media.

Talking about sharing spatial data is easy, but actually putting this into practice can prove to be difficult. Often times this data is largely unavailable across the enterprise as it resides in vendor specific applications. In addition, multiple geographic information system (GIS) file formats, images without location context, and hidden location data in non-geocoded addresses make it difficult to leverage the location value.

However, when a GIS system is integrated throughout the entire organization, users can manage, analyze, visualize and share/disseminate spatial assets to support business workflows and needs. This puts the power of GIS in the hands of the business users and not just the GIS guy. This makes GIS mainstream and not just a specialty technology.

In the public sector, GIS is being used by local governments to assist with smart planning and sustainable economic growth. They are making data accessible throughout their organizations and disseminating it both internally and externally creating a bidirectional channel of information between citizens and government. When a new development or retail site is being planned, governments must solicit public feedback. Using these and other Web 2.0 tools, they can make sure the public is aware and help citizens participate in smart growth initiatives.

Framework for Location Intelligence

Much of the location data in the enterprise has been siloed in departmental systems without any ability to collaborate or share the underlying data. Location data needs to be viewed and managed as an asset to the organization as a whole in order to realize its value.

Location intelligence comprises a set of competencies – data, insight, and strategy – that are brought together in products and solutions to provide the basis for analysis, prediction and information visualization and sharing in a geographical context.

Through robust understanding of these interactions, organizations have the ability to deliver better services than their competitors and optimize service or asset networks based on a prediction of future trends in order to grow profits and/or control costs.

This can also lead to a smarter customer experience through access to richer data about a customer such as behavior or buying preferences. Applications such as geocoding, which takes an address and returns its geographic coordinates, can reveal the location of the customer and allow for a smarter customer experience. For example, if McDonald’s knows that a particular customer is a mom of three young kids and is driving from Stanford to Buffalo and is a frequent visitor, they can deliver a message to her iPhone showing the closest location, directions to that location, and offering coupons to use when she arrives.

Enabling the Enterprise

Location intelligence enables organizations to mainstream business processes. This includes capturing the value of the location elements of your enterprise and departmental data, and more easily sharing, analyzing, and using it.

Visualization of location data provides the geographical context, enabling hidden relationships to be discovered, and the location context to be understood. For example, maps provide a simple technique for sharing information and spatial context that would not exist with more traditional data.

This could be very useful for a retailer looking to open a new retail outlet. They can use location intelligence to understand spatial relationships of a particular site such as the proximity of the nearest competitor or what types of customers reside in that area. Or, a hotel chain may use this to scope out locations that are close to the water but at the same time, avoid common flood plains areas. The map is critical in unraveling these location contexts and relations and making them accessible and operational.

Location intelligence creates the opportunity to easily share, analyze and reuse data across all of the different applications and use cases. This increases the effectiveness of the applications, not to mention reducing costs and increasing productivity. It also helps beak down the barriers between departments, taking location data and turning it into location information that can be shared within and beyond your organization.

Today, geospatial technology is advancing rapidly and providing solutions to combat complex challenges by driving insight and understanding. It also gives users the ability to create actionable intelligence to support strategies and successful implementation.

This growing technology provides a platform for a more efficient and effective decision making process, not only mapping and visualization but also data management and analysis, web services, mobile solutions, insight, strategy, and communication.

In turn, governments and businesses alike will be able to establish bidirectional channels of communication with citizens and customers respectively and open their organizations to greater interaction with the outside world.

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