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Study: Interest in location intelligence technology nascent but rising

Interest is growing in location intelligence, but the technology isn’t a priority for most businesses, according to the third annual Location Intelligence Market Study published last month by Dresner Advisory Services LLC. Location intelligence refers to a business intelligence tool that relates geographic information from a variety of data sources, including GIS and aerial maps, to business data.

Respondents to the survey, which included 403 industry representatives from technology to health care to financial services, ranked location intelligence/analytics 12th out of 25 technologies. Respondents pointed to dashboards, data discovery, data mining and integration with operational processes as bigger priorities than location intelligence; they ranked topics such as in-memory analysis, big data, text analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) as lesser priorities than location intelligence.

The findings don’t surprise Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. Interest in location intelligence is dependent on the industry. “If you’re doing things like sales operational planning, you have to use location intelligence to do that. Otherwise, you’re not going to understand how to allocate resources appropriately,” he said.

Indeed, when broken down by industry, the survey reveals that retail has the highest interest in location intelligence with 65% of those representing the industry indicating that location intelligence is either critically important or very important to their company. Only 40% of survey takers from health care and 35% of survey takers from education said the same.

Yet Dresner predicts location intelligence will rise in importance across all industries eventually. One driver is Internet of Things (IoT), he said, pointing to the growing network of Wi-Fi enabled physical objects such as Fitbits and connected vehicles. “IoT is about where stuff is, first and foremost,” he said. As the IoT stack continues to mature and as more businesses build IoT pilots, Dresner believes location intelligence will ratchet up the priority list.

While location intelligence might be “kind of a sleeper,” right now, Dresner advised CIOs and senior IT leaders to seize the moment and get in front of the wave of interest. In some cases, businesses will need geocoding skills, converting, say, a street address into spatial data, to attain the level of granularity they’re after — skills that will most likely be housed in a company’s analytics department. In other cases, location intelligence features are baked into the business intelligence software, making it easy for a marketing or sales department to serve themselves.

Regardless, the IT department will have a hand in installing the technology, loading in the data, providing the technology support and training users, Dresner said. “[IT] has a role, unless you buy something that’s a SaaS offering, which makes it more of a managed service,” he said.