How Geodemographics Has Changed Over the Past 40 Years: Part Two - SaaS Solutions and Location Analytics

By Jan Kestle

As a response to the needs that I mentioned in part one of this article, Environics Analytics built a new Software as a Service (SaaS) system called ENVISION. We’ve embedded all of the functionality that we have offered our clients over the years into one easy-to-use application. There are routines for customer penetration and potential analysis, profiling and segmentation, target group selection and personification, mapping, market ranking, untapped potential, media optimization, site evaluation and much more. The math behind the analytics has been designed and vetted by industry experts. The reports are executive-friendly. It is not a GIS; it’s a purpose-built market analysis system. (For our customers who want the full functionality of a GIS, we offer our data in Esri Business Analyst and, in Canada, we have some customers who use both Business Analyst and ENVISION.) But for many customers, the ease of use combined with the full range of applications means that ENVISION is all they need.

Cloud-based Micromarketing

It’s a cloud-based system: all that’s necessary to operate it is an Internet connection, a user name and password. The modules get turned on depending on what data are licensed. Work groups can be created and controlled by an administrator on the client side so projects, target groups and all previous work can be shared. As soon as data are updated, they are released to the user; no one has to wait for shipped CDs or use SFTP to get the latest data.

Another benefit is that customer data files can be extracted from other systems and passed to ENVISION with addresses for geocoding or already summarized. The system can filter on variables in the file for profiling.

The system also is prescriptive: it does what we think users should do with these kinds of data. While we are prepared to add functionality and reports to the system, we seldom have to because whatever users want to do is almost always there.

Creating this comprehensive marketing platform wasn’t easy. We’ve had a team of five people working for over three years on developing the ENVISION interface, wizards and reports with the goal of making them comprehensive yet easy to use. And we are now on our third ENVISION release for Canada with a large and growing user base.

In addition, this new release is country and data independent, so while we are now launching the U.S. version, it also can be deployed for any country if we are provided the necessary data.

High-powered Geospatial Business Intelligence

Behind ENVISION is enterprise Alteryx (a unique spatial BI tool) which accounts for its speed (reports come back in seconds) and for the fact that we have been able to build the analytics with as much precision and detail as is necessary. We are even able to deploy complex models and custom reports as add-ons to the system. And because Alteryx is a multi-purpose tool, wizards designed to enhance business processes in other parts of the enterprise can be added to ENVISION on a custom basis.

A Data Agnostic Solution

In addition to the customer data that the user imports, the system uses three kinds of data:

  • Small area databases – such as block group-level demographics, spending data, housing characteristics and five-year projections
  • Geo-segmentation data – typically block group distributions of consumer segments
  • Survey data – expressed as a series of segment profiles

In Canada, we create most of the requisite data ourselves. For this U.S. version, we are offering data from major vendors with whom we have partnered. We have ENVISION versions available with PRIZM, Mosaic USAor STI: LandScapeavailable from Nielsen, Experian and Synergos, respectively. We also have demographics, spending data and media profiles available for each version. Plus we have our own psychographic (social values) data which are extremely important in crafting targeted messages for digital marketing. All versions offer the same variety of reports and complexity of calculations as in the original Canadian version.

At the same time, if our customers want us to load other data or comparable data into ENVISION we can do that, provided proper licensing arrangements are made with the data provider.

Key Applications Delivered to Consumer Marketers in Different Industries

ENVISION has become popular for a whole range of applications. Banks have used ENVISION to decide where to consolidate branches; tourist agencies have employed it to differentiate their direct mail pieces to different target audiences; hospital foundations have employed ENVISION to tease out new prospects for raising donations.There are routines for geocoding, defining trade areas (including drive time, convex hulls, geo list and polygon import), producing trade area reports and maps, customer penetration and potential analysis, distance decay, market ranking, profiling and segmentation, custom target group selection and personification, mapping untapped potential, media optimization, response monitoring and much more. It’s been used in every industry and sector—for businesses and nonprofits—because you can configure the system to your industry and save projects and work. Our current users include financial institutions, insurance companies, tourism organizations, retailers, businesses involved in real estate and consumer electronics, media, manufacturers, car companies, governments and charities.

ENVISION is Configured for Flexibility, Simplicity of Operation

It is only available as SaaS; there is no desktop version. The system is licensed according to what data modules are required and whether the applications will be used for the whole country or for groups of states. We offer a version for each data partner that we have, that is, an Experian version, a Nielsen version and a Synergos version. These are in addition to our Canadian and Quebec versions, which are also a focus of many U.S. companies lately.

Ed. Note: Environics Analytics is sponsoring a webinar titled Cloud-based Marketing Analysis Solution Helps Businesses and Nonprofits,which will take place on August 23.

Published Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Written by Jan Kestle

Published in

Location Intelligence

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