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Location Intelligence: Geographic Context Spurs Innovation

Location intelligence will transform call center operations, e-commerce activities, field service and sales initiatives, but new research reveals that organizations need to look beyond obvious data sources and basic functionality for business success.
3. Make customer experience and customer satisfaction a focus for LI. Asked about the most important benefits of LI, a majority (61 percent) said improving customer service is very important; responding to customer requests faster (49percent) was third-most important. Ventana Research believes this emphasis is shared by many organizations. To prepare for the use of location intelligence in this role, examine the many ways in which your organization encounters customers. Marketing, field service, sales and contact centers all will find location intelligence useful to their missions.

4. Support access to appropriate data sources. To gain full value from location intelligence software, it must be integrated it with a variety of data sources. Deployments typically require data from enterprise applications, data warehouses and other major systems, but sources also extend to information that individual business users develop in spreadsheets, flat files and reports. Your organization should explore ways to streamline the use of local business data and seek out LI software that can be integrated with a variety of sources.

How important are each of the following uses of location intelligence?
How important are each of the following uses of location intelligence?
(click image for larger view)
5. Understand what your business users really need. Organizations should determine early the purposes for which their users need LI. Most organizations say their needs go beyond basic mapping. When it came to specific business undertakings, the research spotted analyzing customer and demographic information, analyzing location patterns, understanding location-related patterns in operational data, and identifying location relationships as top priorities that can be pursued by anyone in the organization, from management to front-line operational workers, to interpret and evaluate business performance.

Make sure you fully understand what your users need from LI so you can determine what types of applications and data sources are required. Do not assume that one dedicated application will meet all needs; perhaps several simple capabilities, integrated with current or new applications, may serve better.

6. Support deployments where they make sense. How you approach the deployment of location intelligence will vary based on the details of your organization and its level of maturity. The research found that nearly half (48 percent) of organizations that have not yet deployed LI plan to do so in the next year in one of three ways: centrally or enterprisewide (38 percent), to specific lines of business (33 percent) or departmentally (17 percent). By group, participants said that marketing, sales and field service will account for 45 percent of planned growth. Mobile workers (23 percent), line-of-business owners (21 percent) and executives (20 percent) will lead the growth in deployments in 2008, but organizations must analyze user roles and requirements to determine the right type of deployment.

7. Realize that consumer-oriented map viewers are not sufficient for business use. Map viewers that are freely available on the Internet have brought location mapping to millions of households. Participants named Google as the most often used location intelligence software, so it is no surprise that 78 percent said they would consider using it for business purposes, but be cautious. Just displaying information on a view of a map is only the start of what location intelligence can offer to business. To help your organization improve processes and performance, look into technologies that meet specific needs.

8. Plan to support growing demand for location intelligence. In every category of enterprise application surveyed, participants said their use of LI would almost double, but organizations need to prioritize where to provide location intelligence in key business activities and processes and, in many cases, which new technologies to integrate. This analysis should extend to delivery options, such as Web services, SOA and message infrastructure, and to mobile device platforms. Location intelligence is poised to become a powerful component of the information on which corporations base decisions. Applied wisely, it can provide a competitive advantage.

This article is an executive summary of "Location Intelligence: Geographic Context Spurs Innovation," which was sponsored by MetaCarta and Pitney Bowes MapInfo. The full 98-page report, which is available at the Ventana Research site, includes an entire chapter of LI maturity levels, analysis techniques and maturity by company size and industry sector.