Location Components – Your Competitive Edge

Welcome to the world of digital mapping. Most of our blog readers, we assume, are users of business mapping software not because you’re interested in maps, but because you’re interested in your business’ success and business maps can help you achieve this. That’s a good thing. Good for us, because we have software that can assist. Good for you, because I read this week that over 80% of business related datasets have a location component.

Location Component
A location component – that’s the critical element. Simply put, a location component is an address. We all have one, and so do all of our customers, competitors, prospects, and vendors. I see quite a few companies importing datasets on to maps with just zip codes, or states. That’s a doable thing, but if I were the ‘Ayatollah of Rock-&-Rolla’ I would insist that all records include full addresses – address, city, state, zip code. Why lose the benefit of the most accurate location placement? It adds value. Location components could also be latitude/longitude points, GPS coordinates, WiFi addresses, Census tract or any set of numbers that represent a point or region on the Earth.

For a great example of how a location component can solve a problem watch the Smithsonian’s documentary on solving the final mystery of the Titanic. It was solved through location data baby! The Mystery of the Titanic Solved My grandfather, just an impressionable five year-old boy in 1912, would have simply adored this.

Another thing I read this week was that only 30% of businesses use business mapping software to visualize business data. But over 90% of businesses use Microsoft Excel (or some knock-off) as part of their business processes. This tells me there’s lots of room for improvement for those companies currently using spreadsheet software but not using business mapping software. And for most of you reading this – you are ahead of the pack. High five!

Location Technologies
For those of us immersed in the business of location-based services we struggle to keep up with the latest and greatest technologies. When I began my career in mapping consumer GPS devices were new, Bluetooth was just emerging as a data exchange standard, and AOL soon purchased Map Quest for $1 Billion (hang your right pinky from the corner of your mouth please.) Geographic Information System software or GIS was the purview of specially trained technicians available from an elite core of geospatial software providers.

Not too long ago business mapping software features like data visualization, and optimized routing, and sales territory mapping were available only to those organizations willing to invest in Geographic Information System software – not an insignificant investment. GIS provided and continues to provide more advanced levels of analysis, tools that support complex business processes like natural resource exploration, municipal infrastructure management, electric power distribution and monitoring, and many more highly complex applications. Business mapping software has harvested the more basic GIS processes appropriate for supporting every-day business requirements and made them available through cloud services.

Your relatively modest investment in what is essentially location intelligence software, information gathering based on the geographical relationships present in your business data, is helping you establish a competitive edge in your business. Terms like location intelligence, business intelligence, situational awareness, describe the process of gathering information about location and how it impacts your business or your situation. You’ve dipped your toe into the fast changing and powerful world of location-based services. Look forward to the future and the ways that location component of yours will greatly advance your business goals. We’re beginning to see some of these new tech ideas becoming real: automatic (hands free) smart driving, ubiquitous Internet connections through wireless mesh networking, and Smart grocery shopping.

Imagine Smart Grocery shopping. Based on your purchase history, your general preferences, your current pantry supply levels, monitoring devices will alert your grocery store to deliver (perhaps by drones?) the goods you want, apply discount coupons, and debit your bank account without any action on your part except maybe putting the stuff in the fridge. It’s coming.

So embrace your location-based business data wherever you find it. Make sure you and your people understand the upside of collecting and utilizing location components. And be on the look-out for new business related features (competitive edges) for your business from your mapping software.

For further reading see: “Scary-creepy robots that force your kids to empty the dishwasher.”

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About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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