LI Buyer’s Guide Introduction

By Joe Francica

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.

If your company would like to be included in the next buyer's guide, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will evaluate the merits of your request.

Published Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Written by Joe Francica

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