The ease-of-use of mobile apps like Google Maps and Strava (which is now being used for urban planning) has inspired a lot of companies to start thinking differently about location technology. Consequently, many IT professionals are being asked, and discovering how, to create location-based applications.
“IT is now being required to build spatially-aware or enabled applications, without a history of working with these technologies,” says Clarence Hempfield, vice president of location intelligence (LI) at Pitney Bowes. “That means organizations like Pitney Bowes have had to deliver these capabilities in such a way that a non-GIS expert can build and deliver geospatial applications, without the foundation of years of working with the technology.”
This rapid consumerization of GIS technology has allowed anyone with a smartphone to use aspects of GIS technology with a few taps of their fingers, revealing valuable location data that they use to find new stores, assist with driving directions and more — and consumers are expecting companies to follow suit.
While many businesses have been hesitant to invest in location intelligence software solutions, expecting a degree of difficulty in implementing this technology, some GIS tools can be effectively used by IT professionals. Thanks to the increasing demand for location-based applications, solutions have been developed that can be used by both Fortune 500 companies and store owners of a local coffee shop.
As more consumers incorporate location apps into their everyday lives, businesses can assume that the expectations for higher quality location-based data will increase. Here are three reasons LI can be a boon to your business:
Local can amplify social
If you need any more proof that GIS tools have become consumerized, you don’t have to look much further than social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. All three offer paid advertising options that businesses can use to target consumers within a very narrow geographic area.
For example, a restaurant in Dallas can use Twitter to send a promoted tweet offering an exclusive discount to people who are in the city limits. Or, an insurance company in Atlanta can target prospects in the Greater Atlanta Metro region through LinkedIn.
These kinds of tools only take a few clicks to activate and very little knowledge of the underlying geospatial technology. By using promoted tweets, sponsored LinkedIn updates, and promoted Facebook posts, every business can leverage the power of local through social, and vice versa, growing social media channels with local customers, building brand awareness and generating sales.
Data and maps can help you plan for the future
With the right location intelligence platform, users can aggregate and visualize data for better insights. A retail store that is planning a new location, for example, can overlay demographics, socioeconomic data and local crime activity in order to visualize opportunities and assess the potential risks based through historical patterns and analysis.
This won’t just help when building a new store. Location analytics supports the ability to plan how that store is merchandized, how many parking spaces should be accommodated, and how many employees will be hired accordingly. By combining location-based data with other authoritative sources, such as from the local or state government, businesses can glean insights that allow them to plan for the future, and to better anticipate what the local community really needs.
Location can super-charge BI
Business Intelligence (BI) software that offers visual intelligence and detailed analytics has proven exceedingly valuable to a multitude of knowledge workers. Yet when it comes to location analytics, BI falls short in providing the depth of capabilities required to process the volume of location-based data available today. As such, BI solutions are integrating technology from location intelligence software providers in order to meet the demand of more sophisticated users.
By integrating location technology with BI, companies can see exactly where sales are strongest, which region may be most receptive to particular marketing offers and where customer service needs to be improved. Location can super-charge BI, creating a new way to visualize, analyze and track, sales, customers and prospects.
Mobile advertising, social media marketing, business planning and business intelligence can all benefit from location intelligence tools and – thanks to the consumerization of GIS – it’s finally possible for any business to really get local.