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Maps have become a critical aid in our daily lives as smartphones and vehicle GPS devices have commoditized the use of digital maps. While “Location intelligence” was traditionally isolated to specialized, highly technical users, cloud map services like Google Maps have lowered the barrier for business decision makers to analyze geography and business data together through the same map friendly map experiences used by Yelp or Foursquare.

The following 3 use cases provide insight to how organizations are currently driving value among business consumers through geographic analysis:

Combine business data and geography from different sources to create new insights

A geographic "mash-up" is the laying of information from different sources that together can communicate geographic relationships not available through reports, tables and charts. For example, one logistics company based in NYC combined the location of incurred parking tickets with parking sign and loading zone data from NYC transit authority. These two independent layers of information by themselves provide minimal value for decision making. However, combining parking ticket data with parking data allowed the logistics team not to understand where excessive tickets occurred, but also recommend alternative solutions. The resulting cost savings was attributed to managers having oversight, along with visual aids to guide drivers.

On-demand access to location and availability of assets, everywhere you go

Location becomes a critical decision factor for organizations that need to track and prioritize real time events or asset tracking. As the number of events and assets increases, so does the incremental value for using real-time geographic visualization. In the business intelligence world,. “real-time” typically reflects the desire to have the latest available informational from a transactional system like point of sales or customer relationship management (CRM). For example, one of the largest heavy machinery equipment sales organizations leverages real-time GPS position of its products to shorten their sales cycle with up to the minute geo-data. Assessing availability and costs for relocating equipment to job sites can be time consuming. Having real-time location and status empowers sales professionals to make immediate recommendations, shorting the decision making processes which ultimately reduces costs for customers.

Diagnostics to identify problems related to geography to accelerate decision making

While predictive analytics are the ultimate goal for organizations to anticipate where events or exceptions will occur, the first step is mastering diagnostic analytics. Diagnostics eliminates the need to hunt and peck for data, allowing business to reach the thought plateau of problem solving quicker. For example, after a major natural disaster, one chemical manufacturing company used diagnostic analytics to anticipate risk after a recent natural disaster. With a geographic view of facilities, simple calculations were applied to rate facilities based on anticipated shortages on clean water, displaced employees, and other factors. With a geographic risk scorecard, this manufacturing organization could begin to mitigate risk by comparing other regional facilities who were not impacted by the disaster.

Geography is a powerful way to constrain or explore information when asking sophisticated questions of your data. Geographic analytics and related services will continue to grow in demand as organizations learn how to leverage geo data and visualization together to improve the decision making process and make business intelligence more approachable.


Ryan Goodman is Centigon Solutions CEO, author, global speaker, and BI Apps expert. Ryan applies over 10 years of experience designing business software solutions to his leadership role shaping Centigon Solutions' strategy and location intelligence product roadmap for CMaps Analytics (formerly GMaps Plugin ).

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