Technology Trends and Factors
The multifaceted portfolio of location applications and geospatially coded content offers many opportunities to transform the enterprise into a location-intelligent engine of profitability. Whether in the world or the walls, the underlying location technology can be found in the wireless networks and application platforms.
Exhibit 3 illustrates key events in location market development and stages, leading to market convergence between the world and the walls. Location intelligence implementations from systems integrators such as CH2M HILL that bring together the world and walls will lead to the system leveling stage. These complex implementations are examples of point solutions within enterprise business suite (EBS) applications, including CRM, supply-chain management and corporate performance management.
Several network technologies are emerging that will provide alternative means of determining an object's location. Most innovation will focus on short- and medium-range environments, with a foundation of standards-based wireless networks such as ultra-wide band (UWB), ZigBee, WiMAX and to some extent RFID. It is far too early to determine the impact these emerging technologies will have on any given market. But these technologies squarely focus on areas such as reducing battery consumption and achieving sub-foot resolution.
Application Software and Middleware
There's a choice of quality software and services for GPS-based solutions. Enterprise applications tend to be vertically oriented to specific industry needs. For example, there are fleet tracking applications in transportation, supply chain and logistics. In the retail and advertising industries, there are point-of-interest content-based applications that use site selection software for buildings and advertisements, respectively. Leading-edge vendors are awaking to the opportunities emerging in RTLS in which their products may be extended to capture or create new value.
In the walls environment, RTLS is a rapidly evolving innovation area (see Exhibit 4). Software for these solutions, such as GPS, is usually part of an integrated point solution that bundles hardware and software from a single vendor. As the market matures, vendors will begin to specialize and solutions will become componentized.
During the next several years, significant value will emerge in software that links data from multiple location-determining sources (e.g., GPS, RTLS and RFID systems). Companies such as PanGo Networks are aggressively moving to become preferred middleware vendors for the RTLS market. As enterprises become location-intelligent, established wireless middleware players such as IBM and Sybase naturally will begin to incorporate RTLS location data into their packages.
Information Trends and Factors
Enterprises, enterprise customers and consumers view the same location differently. Contextual information of importance to businesses and consumers are tagged against different locations on a map. Many people put different contextual information around the same location or use that location information for different business decisions; not everyone uses contextual information in the same way.
Enterprises and consumers use world and wall location data for decision-making. Ceago Vinegarden is a great example of how world and walls location intelligence is beginning to converge for decision-making (see Exhibit 5). Ceago applies location intelligence to its vineyards along the edge of Clear Lake in California; its spatial solution is a CH2M HILL and Geovine implementation.
Many of the market segments are still emerging. Therefore, the examples in some of these segments are not robust. As the technology matures, we expect more innovation in the customer-facing activities and consumer applications. We show the gaps in Ceago's customer-facing activities and consumer applications to highlight the opportunities to leverage the technology investment in enterprise business decisions for customer-facing activities. For example, leveraging the existing investment in a wall technology on grapevines for customer self-guided tours can add to the wine tasting experience.
The collection of multiple layers of data around a specific location is a sign of an emerging geospatial web in which every coordinate on the globe will have multiple types of contextual data. In the future, businesses and consumers will either add contextual data to the public domain or will pull the data and context into their own location intelligence applications as needed. Increase in the following activities is evidence this is occurring:
- Consumers' location awareness will drive business usage.
- Device independence will increase the need for location intelligence capabilities.
- There are new forms of content providers and ways to collect context around a location.
- Creative applications of spatial technologies are creating information management challenges.
Bringing together the world and the walls will position companies to reap the rewards of increased location data utilization and business performance visibility.
The ability to know where everything is at any point directly affects a company's opportunities and threats. A company's human resources, physical offices, plants and customers can be anywhere on the globe. It is important to know where people and assets are at all times to be able to react quickly and knowledgeably.
With recent technology advances, it is possible to affordably map an area or locate objects regardless of their location. Satellite-based location systems have delivered enormous benefits to enterprises for at least two decades. In addition, the democratization of location technology for indoor environments is creating a new pool of data.
A company's ability to gain visibility into the "where" data of its supply chain measurably enhances its ability to wisely balance conflicting supply chain requirements. To stay in business, companies must compete with other companies through the capability of their supply chains. Businesses must leverage location data in their enterprise decision support systems to create a location-intelligent company.