Why Location Intelligence is Not Part of Everyone’s Business & The Pathetic State of Dashboards

Few market reseachers have the insights about how businesses use technology than Mark Smith (@marksmithvr) chief research officer and founder of Ventana Research. And, for good measure, his experience in the applications of GIS in business are unmatched, which is why his opinions, provided by way of his keynote at the MapInfo Users Conference, held last week in Memphis, are so compelling.

He began his comments by way of suggesting that most of today's technology in use by businesses touch an entire suite of enterprise wide applications and processes but most of the methods they are exploring do not engage location technology. He said that visualization is driving a lot of the technological advancements and its forcing software vendors to put money into visualization solutions. But, excluding the issue location technology ignorance, there is a problem.

He said that the state of new visualization tools, designed to help business analysts, is complicating their ability to make good decisions. He said that the visual discovery process that business intelligence (BI) dashboards are supposedly designed to facilitate are not living up to their potential. He commented that while dashboards are supposed to help in discerning new insights, they are compromised by the abilities and competencies of analysts to understand what each is supposed to offer.  He called the state of BI dashboards "pathetic."

"The average business person may have no idea of what these visualizations mean … [We] put pie charts and graphics on a screen to make sense of the data … We've swung to a new group of visualization tools that we put in front of people and we expect them to know what they are to do with them," said Smith.

Smith went on to say that "most of the advanced visualization tools do nothing in terms of putting these things in the context of location; they only put them into visualization products that scatter the information. It takes away from the potential to understand these data to make businesses processes more efficient."

"Location Intelligence (LI) has been advancing for some time but has not had the front seat. It must become part of daily tasks … its got to be out front and center to be part of everything we do to make smarter actions," said Smith.

Some key statistics from a Ventana Research study Smith conducted:

In addressing the question, "which business aspects are planning to change in the next 12 to 18 months and use location" the results are as follows:

  • E-commerce of products - 64%
  • Consumer access to product information - 60%
  • Fulfillment of products and services - 56%
  • B2B interaction 54%
  • Analyzing location data is a key priority 36%

In answering the question on "how location technology is used now by organizations:

  • Visualization through geospatial technology used by 35% … and planned for by 33%
  • Perform faster analysis and an advantage for visualizing big data - 49%

Big data is Where LI Can Shine

Smith said that location analytics enriches data for better intelligence such as in economic analysis and demographics. But the problem is that we most often use location technology on a project by project basis and then we move on.  However, today, we are capturing data at an enormous rate, most with a location context. Storage in the cloud is the norm for big data stores and this should facilitate the use of location-based information on a regular basis. "Big data stores can be spun up on public or private clouds; they don't have to reside in a new data warehouse that the company owns or maintains. [Companies] must make it an enterprise wide [investment] rather than a department oriented situation."

"We are at a fork in the road; how are we going to take this notion of location intelligence virally," asked Smith. He encouraged attendees to make LI more of an enterprise priority just as BI,CRM and ERP were. "Those acronyms drove waves of advancements and market opportunities for organizations. [LI] is one of the areas where we can take advantage of big data advancements … we must make sure that LI is on the radar screen of executives.  We do not get the best value out of data without location intelligence," said Smith.

Disclosure: Pitney Bowes supported travel to attend this event.

Published Monday, June 16th, 2014

Written by Joe Francica

Published in

Location Intelligence

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