Location Intelligence: Geographic Context Spurs Innovation - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management

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.

Location intelligence (LI) will be one of the key enabling technologies for business innovation in coming years, but it's not quite as simple as mashing up corporate data with Internet-based mapping tools.

LI applies information about location or geography to inform actions or responses to opportunities. By combining geographic- and location-related data with other business data, organizations can gain critical insights, make better decisions and optimize important processes and applications. Location intelligence offers organizations opportunities to streamline their business processes and customer relationships to improve business performance and results.

A significant number of organizations are already using the technology; a just-released study by Ventana Research found that 28 percent of the 332 qualified organizations participating in the (October 2007) benchmark study are operating at the highest "Innovative" level out of four levels of maturity in using LI. However, an equal percentage are at the lowest "Tactical" level of maturity and have yet to realize the value of applying LI technology to their processes.

The research revealed strong interest in LI; more than three-fifths (61 percent) of participants said LI is very important in helping to improve business processes and performance, and even more (65 percent) said it is very important for improving interactions with their customers and suppliers.

Awareness of LI has been stirred by the recent advent of consumer-oriented map viewers from Google, Microsoft and others. More than half (57 percent) of research participants are using Google's tools, a higher percentage than that for long-time, business-oriented geographic information system (GIS) software providers. However, while these simple, free technologies can provide the basic functions of LI, the research revealed that they can't deliver all aspects of functionality, accessibility, integration and deployment approaches required to realize the full range of potential business benefits from LI.

This article, which is an executive summary of Ventana's 98-page report, provides an overview of research results related to LI functionality, applications, data sources and deployment priorities. In addition, it provides eight recommendations from Ventana Research on what to consider when researching the potential for LI in your organization, how to prioritize applications and what approaches you might take to location intelligence deployments.

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