Driving Business Value with Geographic Business Intelligence
For nearly a decade software solutions for location
intelligence have addressed a variety of information-driven business
problems. During the last 30 years, technology has become increasingly
effective in storing volumes of data, but information management
solutions have not been able to keep up with the growing demands for
data transformation, classification, matching and integration.
In parallel with these trends, the Internet has increased demand for
rapid delivery from all information resources. In particular, the
awareness of geographic information components, highlighted in the
geo-spatial pervasiveness of the Web, has begun to inform Web audiences
on the power of visual
geographic data presentations.
Location intelligent solutions have the ability to solve many
information flow challenges by delivering a single, data-independent
platform for the design, deployment and visualization of business
processes across the enterprise. The result is an ability to predict,
analyze and gain actionable insight on all of an organization's
business transactions by incorporating a spatial perspective on every
Many large corporations with extensive data sets and marketplace
requirements are leveraging location intelligence technology to solve a
variety of critical information management problems.
For example, the apparel company, VF Corporation, had as its goal to be
the worldwide leader in the localization of merchandising by knowing
what consumers wanted in each geographic area. VF needed the
ability to analyze its data in order to ensure its buyers would have
the right products, in the right place, at the right time.
VF is the world's largest apparel company. For more than 100 years the
company has manufactured apparel for brands such as Lee, Wrangler, The
North Face, Vans, Reef and JanSport. These brands span virtually every
retail distribution channel to stores including Walmart, Sears,
Nordstrom, Kohl's and many others.
To increase sales of VF products on the retail floor, VF and its retail
partners developed a technique called Retail Floor Space Management.
This technique supports point of sale (POS) validation and analysis,
sales planning, product assortment, category management and product
In the past, VF had purchased a marketing information product from a
well-known supplier to work with its internally developed tools to
analyze retail partnership data and store trade area information. This
solution did not scale throughout the enterprise to provide timely
results, did not reliably define syndicated trade areas, and did not
accurately geocode non-spatial or tabular data.
To address these shortcomings, VF needed a solution that could be
easily integrated with existing applications, could support the
importation and processing of large amounts of POS data within
reasonable time frames, and had accurate geocoding technology. The
company needed the ability to analyze brand and product preferences
matched to consumer lifestyles, to identify specific clusters of stores
similar to existing locations, and to draw comparisons and match
website registrants with lifestyle information, demographics and
VF selected SRC's software solutions to integrate with VF's existing
information technology. SRC's Alteryx solution allowed VF to
simultaneously use spatial analysis for product placement and track
consumer trends within specific stores based on POS data and
With VF's implementation of the platform, retail floor space management
teams were able to better match products with consumer demand, while
supporting efforts to more accurately predict assortments and other
product attributes at the individual store level. VF also implemented
this technology to quickly access, store, manage, retrieve and analyze
multiple sources of business intelligence, both spatial and non-spatial
data, regardless of origin.
Performance throughout the entire retail channel improved
significantly, enabling the process of integrating and analyzing data
to take place in minutes, rather than days or weeks. The solution
has led to the successful tracking of 10,000 retail locations, more
than 100,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) and 200 lifestyle variables for
every store. In fact, data are updated nightly from retail stores,
increasing the accuracy and speed of reporting.
In addition to the retail floor space management strategies, VF uses
its consumer demographics to evaluate new and proposed store locations
and to assist planners and category managers with placing merchandise
in brand new stores. For some stores, VF is able to complete these
tasks up to six months in advance. With this type of analysis
capability, VF also can periodically realign existing inventory levels
and optimize product offerings at the style and color level.
Internal buy-in of the analytics process has given the company's
business analysts expanded access to these technology tools. VF was
able to save more than 50 percent of its marketing information costs by
providing decision makers throughout the organization with powerful
information management and analysis tools.
Companies like VF Corporation are able to reduce overhead, improve data
quality and significantly reduce processing and analysis time to
deliver current marketing information. Location intelligence
applications deliver better retail product selection, enhanced
business-to-business service delivery and decreased costs.
The ability to incorporate geographic information as a way of gaining
market and consumer insight essentially changes the way business teams
can exploit their operational data assets. Business analysts have many
questions to ask that depend on geographic knowledge. All of these
questions suggest a common need for businesses to incorporate
geographic information and spatial analysis within their operational
and analytical applications.
Apparent technological restrictions imposed by traditional GIS,
business intelligence and relational database tools have impeded
business analysts from making the most effective use of geographic
data, yet these barriers and challenges can be overcome. Employing a
platform that provides high performance and scalability, rapid
integration of data from almost any format or structure, and improved
control over data quality empowers more individuals within the
organization with the ability to use geographic business intelligence.
Significant benefits can be achieved, especially when the analysts
themselves can tailor their own deliverables with respect to their
particular spatial intelligence needs. Democratizing location-based
information can empower the organization to reach new heights in
operations, strategic analysis and knowledge.
Published Wednesday, August 27th, 2008