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July 22, 2016

Why businesses need to wake up to the opportunity of location intelligence

Opinion: Ken Parnham, General Manager Europe at Near, discusses the the business opportunities of location intelligence.

By Vinod

Sometimes, everyday things become so familiar they almost disappear. The brain files them away as given entities and we sleepwalk past — seeing without noticing.

One prime example of this is data. Companies have become so accustomed to using it across each element of their business — from tracking purchases to who their customers are — that they have stopped looking beyond the obvious to see the emerging opportunities. As a result, many have yet to leverage a rapidly growing data source that can transform granular consumer insights into actionable business decisions: location intelligence.

When combined with technology that unlocks its insights, real-time location data can create accurate consumer profiles that aid audience understanding, identify new trends, and even link online behaviour with real-world activity. But its business potential is yet to be exploited.

So what exactly does location data offer businesses, and how can they use it to drive their decisions and engage with audiences more successfully?  

The importance of ‘where’ for businesses

Location intelligence adds crucial context to audience information that helps businesses to achieve maximum relevance. It can be drawn from a range of sources that bring depth and diversity to organisational processes, such as smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices, wearables, mobile phones, WiFi routers, beacons, and navigation providers.

In marketing for example, its ability to map individual habits — such as where consumers shop, what time they commute, and when they use their mobile devices — enables brands to boost conversions by fine-tuning strategy and engaging audience interest. Armed with the insight it produces, marketers can identify the best channel, time and place to target individuals, as well as personalising their messages to enhance impact.

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For the wider business community, the most important aspect of location intelligence is the granular understanding it offers of both individuals, and the entire consumer base. For instance, broader use cases could include analysing commuter patterns to improve the efficiency of city planning.

So what is location intelligence?

Location intelligence is the information that comes from blending geospatial data with business insight and using cartographic tools to make sense of the relationships between consumer data, and geography.

The technology used to wield it has developed apace in recent years and can now link data produced by multiple functions — including supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) — to business information, and extract its value with highly sophisticated spatial capabilities.

This advanced new software can pull in an array of data from various analytical sources and generate precise, actionable insights that improve overall strategy and performance.  In this way, businesses are not only able to cut-through the chaotic data cloud to find the data they need, but can also put it into action immediately — keeping them consistently ahead of competitors and in step with their user base.

How can location intelligence slot into business models?

Location intelligence has a limitless array of applications that extend far beyond the realm of marketing and more sectors are starting harness its business potential. In particular, its power to connect geographical areas and individual activity is already helping a raft of industries to improve processes and consumer satisfaction.

For example, mobile carriers are using it to find areas where customer numbers are high but signal is low to determine where masts should be located to improve service. Even local governments are beginning to enhance online services with the data it generates, helping citizens to find local parking and community facilities.  

The complete picture location intelligence offers of behaviour, movement and habits is also creating a foundation for greater organisational efficiency. Retailers and banks, for instance, are drawing upon its insights into footfall to determine the best locations to build stores and branches that reach their target demographic. 

How to use location insight effectively  

The biggest challenge with location intelligence is also one of its assets: the sheer volume of data sources it can collate and compare to produce meaningful insights.

Businesses must therefore ensure they identify the best quality data streams, manage them effectively and put them into action, while avoiding inaccuracy and duplication. This means they need the perfect balance of tech and watertight procedures, which can be best achieved by: choosing a self-serve platform that provides full data control and flexibility, vigilantly monitoring data quality, refreshing sources, and converging them.

With data flowing everywhere, it’s not hard to see why businesses have fallen into a data slumber, adjusting strategy only to the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of consumer information. Yet as a powerful resource that offers the ability to enrich and extend performance by adding vital detail and context, location intelligence is a data source that businesses and marketers should wake up to.

By realising the opportunity of location intelligence to refine their services, operations and communications, businesses can enhance not just the efficiency of their organisations, but also maintain the loyalty of their consumers.

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