Publishing a buyer's guide for Location Intelligence
(LI) creates a challenge. LI is not an "established" category
recognized by the broader information technology community. There are
several, somewhat recent categories that are more common in the IT
vernacular such as: "business intelligence" (BI) to analyze financial
and customer data; customer resource management (CRM) to identify the
intelligence derived from market research; and enterprise resource
planning (ERP) to recognize a broader category that assists the CXO
from a unified perspective.
But LI does not fit well into any of the existing categories. LI is a
part of every category. It is a strategic component of so many aspects
of business information analysis that it should not be construed as an
isolated "stovepipe" of data or software. And yet, knowing "where" is
such a fundamental element of an enterprise's knowledge base that LI
must be recognized as one of the four key enterprise intelligence
systems that provide actionable information. The other three are: BI,
market intelligence and competitive intelligence. See Hal Reid's editorial
on "The Missing Department," which describes these four systems.
How, then, to structure a buyer's guide? The companies that comprise
this list reside at the convergence of an IT revolution. From one
direction, we have a burgeoning consumer market with a rapidly emerging
appetite for location-based information, local search and personal
navigation. From another direction, the BI companies have started to
feel squeezed by the lack of differentiation within the market, and are
seeking a competitive advantage by integrating some components of
location technology into their solution suite. For example, BI
"dashboards" now include maps as another visualization component. And
from a third direction, the current cadre of GIS and desktop mapping
companies feel compelled to offer more than just mapping software and
demographic data. Increasingly, they are offering standalone software
solutions or Web-based application services in addition to consulting
services. Many companies such as MapInfo, geoVue and IDV Solutions are
now using the term "location intelligence" to describe their solutions
and to differentiate themselves from the traditional GIS software
providers. The result is a collision of noteworthy efforts to address a
seemingly hungry but uneducated market.
The market includes some businesses that can't survive without location
technology because the foundation of their business model is cemented
in geography: transportation and logistics companies, real estate
appraisal and development, and natural resource exploration, to name
just a few. Others have a profound reliance on location-based
information, for without it, they too, would make monumental mistakes
in calculating return on investments. Retail, insurance and banking
companies are examples of these geographically challenged businesses.
As a consequence, each group is striving to integrate location-based
information into existing enterprise systems.
Our definition of LI is: actionable information about the location of
assets, employees, competitors, customers and other stakeholders to
efficiently manage a business, government department or organization.
Our buyer's guide will hopefully assist you in understanding the
available LI products and services. The guide is divided into two
sections: BI companies that offer location technology with their
solutions and location technology companies that provide software
solutions, services or components to integrate technology with other
enterprise applications. We deliberately did not focus on the consumer
applications of location-based services as we'll leave that to our
sister publication, LBS360.NET.
This first guide is by no means complete and it will surely evolve as
we recognize new innovations.