What is Location Intelligence and how does it fuel better business decisions?

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It’s no secret that we are more connected today than ever before. From smartphones in nearly every pocket to WiFi and GPS-enabled devices in constant use by businesses across industries, we are generating data at an exponential rate. Not only is this data continuously growing, it’s becoming increasingly unstable — requiring complex technology, like machine learning (ML), to clean and stabilize the data.

But just having clean, stable data isn’t enough. How businesses use that data makes all the difference. Connecting the dots to build actionable insights helps companies anticipate trends, supply line complications, and customer needs — enabling smart investments and growth that keep them ahead of their competitors and in a better position to serve their audience. And location is a key component of that data, giving rise to a new type of business intelligence — location intelligence.

What is Location Intelligence?

Put simply, location intelligence is a methodology for gleaning insights by connecting location datasets to additional data. But it’s more than simply putting data on a map. By focusing on a spatial analysis of data, businesses can uncover previously unseen patterns — leading them to better understand why trends are developing.

Location Intelligence accelerates understanding

Moving beyond just a temporal understanding of data into spatial analysis helps identify patterns in behavior and often explains why customers or employees made the decisions they made as they interacted with their environment. This ability to reveal patterns makes location intelligence a vital component of modern business intelligence.

This type of insight better equips companies in their decision making — empowering them to make smarter decisions faster.

Location Intelligence is critical to modern business intelligence

While the applications will differ, nearly every industry can benefit from location intelligence. In fact, multiple business units within an organization often have their own specialized needs for location intelligence. Operations can fine tune production and delivery. Marketing can optimize their campaigns. Strategic growth teams can best determine where to position new locations.

But location data, like every other type of data, is constantly growing. On top of that, raw location data can be messy and less accurate than most people would think. Making sense of it requires a specialized solution — location intelligence software.

How does Location Intelligence work?

By combining a dynamic visualization system and analysis utilizing big data techniques and tools with multiple types of data, location intelligence helps your business uncover insights that might not otherwise have been found.

Data

The types of data used in location intelligence can be broadly categorized in two buckets: internal data and external data. Internal data is data your company already has gathered and can include customer data from your customer relationship manager (CRM), revenue data from  your point of sale (POS) system, metrics from marketing campaigns, feedback from your supply chain, and more.

External data can vary depending on yours specific needs but often includes several specific types of datasets:

  • Points of Interest
  • Property
  • Mobility
  • Transaction
  • Demographic
  • Address
  • Boundary
  • Environment
  • Street
  • Imagery

You can learn more about these types of data and the primary providers in our recent article. But it’s important to remember that just combining the datasets isn’t enough.

Visualization

Location intelligence software helps you not just combine the data, but filter it and visualize it to find connections between the datasets. This interactive technology allows you to generate real-time maps that show consumer behavior patterns in areas you are or plan to do business in — helping you make strategic, effective decisions.

Analysis

Location intelligence and location intelligence software grew out of the combination of geospatial information systems and business intelligence, but their real value comes in the analysis. Aided by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools as well as big data techniques, location intelligence has become a critical part of modern business decision making. This intersection of data, visualization, and analysis empowers businesses to forecast sales and select sites for future expansion and opportunities with deeper understanding than they were previously able to.

What is the difference between Location Intelligence and Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is fundamental to how companies make decisions. It compiles big data into easier-to-digest metrics, comprehensive timelines, and clear insights. As a subset of business intelligence, location intelligence pairs that data with a spatial analysis that helps uncover patterns in movement and behavior. Thorough, properly analyzed location datasets help explain why market trends are happening and deliver straightforward, actionable insights.

What is the difference between Location Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems?

A geographic information system (GIS) is any technology that manages and maps different types of data. Think of it as the technical backbone of location intelligence. Whereas GIS provides the ability to map data, knowing what data to map and how to interpret that data is location intelligence. Being able to pair business and customer data with stable location datasets and deliver insights with the aid of machine learning is the heart of a modern location intelligence provider like Unacast.

What is Location Intelligence Software?

Smartphones, IoT devices, WiFi and cellular access points, point of sale systems, GPS tracking — there are no shortage of ways to generate location data in today’s world. As the sheer amount of this accumulated data increases, how companies process this information directly impacts their ability to glean actionable insights.

Location intelligence software is any platform that helps a business parse location data into usable datasets. Modern solutions, like Unacast, marry machine learning technology with raw location data from multiple sources and more precise GPS data to create clean, stable, up-to-date datasets. This empowers companies to find actionable insights from location data faster.

Who are the major location intelligence providers?

Given the value of location intelligence, there are dozens of providers on the market — ranging from data warehouses to location data analysts to modern location intelligence software platforms like Unacast who leverage ML or AI and provide APIs, SDKs, and other tools to integrate location intelligence into industry standard business intelligence systems and workflows. Some key location intelligence software providers include:

Unacast

As an industry leading location intelligence provider, we provide deep datasets — from foot traffic to dynamic trade areas to migration patterns — as well as robust visualization capabilities and expert analysis. We also provide comprehensive data and systems integration tools to ensure our data and analyses work within your greater business intelligence workflow.

API?

Yes

Visualization?

Visualize location data down to the zipcode level with Unacast Insights

Coverage?

Global data from multiple sources is cleaned, stabilized, and analyzed leveraging machine learning

Data Integration?

On top of our API-based integration, Unacast Turbine helps you process the data location you’ve already gathered while maintaining security and privacy compliance

System Integrations?

In addition to the API, Unacast offers multiple integration tools via their github repositories

Carto

Designed for modern tech stacks, Carto is a cloud-native location intelligence product designed to work within a company’s modern tech stack.

API?

Robust environment with multiple APIs

Visualization?

Multiple map and reporting app types available

Coverage?

Global

Data Integration?

Yes

System Integrations?

Integrates across the tech stack via multiple APIs

CleverMaps

The CleverMaps platform allows data analysts to easily build and maintain large location intelligence projects and their API and integrations integrate with custom apps and enable building interactive maps.

API?

RESTful API

Visualization?

Multiple types of maps based on data types

Coverage?

Global

Data Integration?

Connect customer or CM data via DB connector, ETL tools, or the API

System Integrations?

Integrates via the API and customer-built apps or embeds with supported BI platforms

Gravy Analytics

A location intelligence company that promises enterprise-grade location analytics for multiple industries and use cases.

API?

Multiple APIs based on particular need or use case

Visualization?

Multiple map and non-map visualizations available

Coverage?

Global

Data Integration?

Via API or downloaded to an AWS S3 bucket

System Integrations?

Integrates via the API and customer-built apps

Placer AI

A modern, API-driven location intelligence provider focused on location data from the United States.

API?

Yes

Visualization?

Via dashboards or API integrations

Coverage?

US Only

Data Integration?

Via API or automated bulk download feeds

System Integrations?

Integrates via the API and customer-built apps

For a deeper dive into the relative features of these location intelligence providers and more, see our article on The Best location intelligence software in 2023.

What are the primary use cases of Location Intelligence?

Location intelligence can be used to drive planning and decision making across a nearly limitless range of business functions — but there are several use cases where location intelligence really shines:

Site Selection

For companies with brick and mortar retail locations or commercial real estate developers, knowing how people are moving and spending money in a specific area is critical to knowing when and where to expand or offload locations.

Supply Chain Optimization

Improving efficiency and reducing cost via optimized processes and routes is critical to stay competitive in a global marketplace.

Out of Home and Geomarketing

From billboards in public spaces to targeted mobile marketing efforts — understanding the real world behavior and movement of your audience in specific regions can help your efforts have the greatest impact.

Portfolio Risk Analysis

Whether evaluating investment opportunities or underwriting insurance — by understanding the historical context of a location and developing accurate forecasting, organizations are making smarter decisions than ever before.

Who uses Location Intelligence?

Location intelligence is fast becoming an essential component of what makes a company competitive in any industry. Here are several sectors leveraging location data for pivotal business decisions.

Location Intelligence for Retail

The applications of location intelligence for brick-and-mortar retailers are nearly limitless, and choosing the right location for their newest store is just the beginning.

By connecting their data to deep location datasets, retailers can better understand store performance by analyzing foot traffic in their store versus the surrounding area. They can also compare foot traffic to revenue, creating accurate conversion rate metrics.

Retailers can optimize staffing by better understanding peak visitation times and shopper demographics. They can know where customers are coming from and where they go — helping unlock their shopping patterns and building competitive intelligence on their competitors.

Location Intelligence for Supply Chain and Logistics

Location intelligence helps companies identify supply chain needs and optimize processes from production all the way to delivery. These optimizations help keep operations flexible and ready to meet the needs of the market — ultimately helping build customer loyalty.

Location data can help quickly identify and mitigate component or production bottlenecks, helping companies stay on-track and on-time. And by building more accurate forecasts based on area or market changes, companies can anticipate their customers’ needs, helping ensure their products are in the right place at the right time.

Knowing how the market is moving in and around sites helps companies optimize their performance and accurately select new sites.

Location Intelligence for Insurance

By leveraging location data, insurance companies can translate real-world behavior into accurate, data-driven risk assessments. These assessments help deliver competitive pricing while reducing guesswork.

Location datasets help insurance companies more accurately evaluate potential income loss for businesses — from natural disasters to market trends to injury potential — and price their offerings accordingly.

Location Intelligence for Real Estate

Migration patterns — i.e. trends in where people are moving at the state, city, and zip code level, as well as their demographics —  help inform site selection. This data gives commercial real estate investors a competitive advantage when choosing where to grow. By analyzing both migration and foot traffic patterns, commercial real estate companies can better understand risks as populations change, as well as more accurately predict which areas will grow in order to  focus their investments there.

Location Intelligence for Marketing

By understanding traffic demographics, marketers are better able to build and optimize their location-based campaigns and their out-of-home ad spend. Knowing who is moving through a location, as well as where they’ve been and where they’re going, allows marketers to create messaging, visuals, and offerings that better connect to their audience and are more likely to influence potential customers.

Location Intelligence for Governments

It’s not just for-profit organizations that benefit from location intelligence. Governments at all levels can leverage this data as well. Whether it’s in planning future infrastructure projects or optimizing functions like public transportation or waste management — knowing how their communities are changing and moving empowers governments to meet the needs of their population.

Location intelligence can also aid in public health planning or reacting to natural disasters — helping to create more accurate forecasts, find root causes, and identify the parts of their communities with the greatest needs.

Location Intelligence for Telcos

Telcos already have a tremendous amount of customer data — but it’s not always leveraged effectively. By utilizing location intelligence software, telcos can generate privacy-friendly mobility data, uncover customer behavior trends, and develop more-insightful strategies. A modern, security-focused, cloud-based solution can accelerate decision timelines without putting customer data at unnecessary risk.

Location Intelligence for Financial Services

Human mobility datasets can empower financial service companies — especially private equity, venture capitalists, and hedge fund managers — to make better-informed decisions on both new investments as well as their existing properties and portfolios.

Location Intelligence for Consultancies

Consultants can provide new, strategic offerings, helping their clients optimize products, pricing, and service deliveries by leveraging the consumer insights and mobility available through location intelligence.

Benefits of Location Intelligence:

No matter the industry, companies clearly benefit from adding location intelligence to their data analyses in a number of ways. Consider some of the potential benefits for your organization:

Augment your business intelligence
Let data paint the full picture by adding in critical migration and foot traffic analysis.

Better understand your customers
See the why behind behavioral and market trends by uncovering hidden customer patterns.

Improvecustomer experience
Better anticipate customers’ needs and optimize supply chain and staffing to meet them.

Find new and unique opportunities
See where the market is moving, literally, and select new sites and develop new products to meet those needs.

Marketing attribution and campaign optimization
See the real-world impact of campaigns and develop creative that connects to where the audience has been and where they’re going.

Challenges of Location Intelligence:

Location intelligence has many clear and obvious benefits to businesses today — but location intelligence done right isn’t easy. It’s crucial that location data and intelligence providers help companies meet these challenges head on by taking these steps:

  • Ensure data accuracy and quality

Raw location data is ever-growing and often of questionable accuracy and value. By employing machine learning and connecting to more precise GPS data, Unacast helps deliver foot traffic datasets that lead to actionable location intelligence.

  • Provide easy-to-digest analysis

Interacting with and visualizing data is vital to understanding it and unlocking new insights. Unacast Insights helps companies make better business decisions faster.  

  • Up-to-date solutions to deliver accurate insights

Whether it’s the age of the data or the technology used to deliver insights, it’s critical that a location intelligence provider continuously innovates. Unacast leverages multiple, constantly updated data sources and evolving machine learning models to deliver datasets that keep you competitive.

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