When we think about the data that drives business strategy, it’s often focused on questions of how, why, and when: How do customers find you? Why do they do business with you? And when do they make that decision?
Yet in almost every aspect of your operations, the question of “where” plays a critical role. Understanding the spatial relationships that drive customer decision making, along with how the physical world can affect everything from employee safety to logistics, is at the heart of location intelligence.
Here’s a breakdown of what location intelligence is, and why it matters to you.
What is location intelligence?
Location intelligence is a discipline that collects and utilizes physical location data. Ideally, this data is further enhanced by combining it with information from other sources to provide a holistic view of customer, employee, or vendor behavior.
Let’s say you’re a university with satellite campuses. Based on enrollment figures, you believe there’s enough demand among your commuter students to open a new satellite campus, but you’re not sure where to build.
Location intelligence can enable you to visually represent your current campuses along with the residential addresses of your student population. With this representation, you can accurately identify those underserved areas from which students are traveling the farthest. You can even mathematically determine the best placement of a new campus to maximize the number of potential students it could serve.
As you can imagine, this kind of data could have big implications for retailers, logistics companies, and others. What’s even more promising is that location intelligence works at many different scales.
Using location intelligence to solve problems within your facilities
Likewise, location intelligence can serve a single facility. The health and safety of your employees is one of your highest priorities, but certain risk factors can sometimes be difficult to identify. Location intelligence gives you a new tool to put the pieces together.
Here’s an example: Imagine a manufacturing facility with a sudden spike in on-site accidents. These accidents are not isolated to one department or function, and yet there is clearly an upward trend. How would you find the common thread that might explain this development?
With location intelligence, you can gather data on how employees move throughout your facility during the day. Perhaps you notice that employees tend to have more accidents after they visit a particular part of the building. Further investigation uncovers a small but still dangerous carbon monoxide leak, impairing cognition for anyone who lingers too long in the area. This, in turn, is what is leading to accidents as they move through your building.
Of course, what you find may not be quite that serious. Location intelligence may reveal problems with a blind corner, the grade of a floor, or other spatial issues that aren’t easy to discern from a spreadsheet. In any case, this data can give you a powerful tool in improving safety in your facilities.
Location intelligence provides a critical tool in improving logistics performance
Now let’s zoom out: Location intelligence can play an important role in planning your company’s cross-country logistics. The traveling salesman problem is a famous example of the difficulties of route planning, but it can be solved algorithmically by finding the shortest route that connects each destination.
For logistics companies, it’s rarely so simple. Certain destinations must be arrived at in a particular order, and often these destinations shift and change over time. Routes also must be continually optimized and evaluated to ensure maximum efficiency, while taking into account all available data.
Location intelligence not only allows you to create visual representations of the relationships between sites through digitization, it allows you to layer in additional information that may prove critical to the routes you create. By moving beyond spreadsheets to create physical representations of the data you have, it’s easier to identify routes and relationships between sites.
Whether you have a single facility or manage multiple sites across the country, location intelligence can offer a new way to visualize and understand your data. And if you need any help getting started, make sure you select a partner with deep experience in analytics.
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