A huge thank you to ICSC for hosting a terrific Research Connections Conference in Miami with some of the brightest minds in the retail real estate space. In comparison with most other conferences, which are focused around 15-minute speed dating, the ICSC Research Connections Conference had a different vibe. The primary focus was on education, sharing the most up-to-date relevant research findings and innovative approaches to business analytics.
One of the key aspects that stood apart was related to the intimate Round Table Discussions, which by the way are definitely the way to go for a 2-day conference to break up the perpetual powerpoints, and the fact that the topics that drew crowds were focused on mobile location data, geospatial analysis, and site selection.
I sat down with Adam Slackman, our VP of Sales and Jon Torre, one of our Senior Directors of Sales, to discuss our takeaways from these Round Table discussions and other conversations we had, as we headed home to NYC. In the spirit of continuing to educate and help our fellow industry members better understand location data’s capabilities, here is a summary of Unacast’s highlights from the ICSC Miami Research Connections Conference:
- There is a huge interest in human mobility insights due to the value they have around important real estate investment decisions involving millions of dollars. Location data insights can also help to optimize these investments over many years. Big bucks are at stake, and clever data and human mobility insights will protect and yield the ROI.
- There are a lot of questions about location data, and people are confused about what the data says, and what it can do. This isn’t something to be ashamed of. Location data is a new industry and education is needed.
- For the location data analytics user, understanding the technology of how the data is collected is a key piece in understanding how it can be applied to decisions. Few people realize that location data is collected by 31 satellites orbiting the globe at 12,000 miles per hour, and the tiny GPS chip in our phones. Inaccuracies will happen, which is why solid, stable and consistent data supply combined with state of the art data science is needed to create meaningful insights. I wrote about the same topic a year ago, with a focus on marketing, but it is still as relevant as it was then for retail real estate.
- Few companies are using location data extrapolation methodologies and correcting for biases in the data themselves. If they use a data vendor, they may not have asked key questions about how their supplier distills and interprets raw GPS signals into actionable location insights.
- There is a shift within the real estate community regarding their utilization of mobile data. Once seen solely as a tool for marketing purposes, many are now starting to see mobile data as an analytical tool that can help with their predictive modeling to help inform their investment strategies and the health of their properties. This interest bodes well for future mobile data demand, as its application becomes further embedded cross-departmentally within an organization.
Unacast’s vision is crystal clear - “with our superior knowledge about human mobility we aspire to be the trusted foundation for all data-driven decisions.” The retail real estate industry is ready and in need - we are here to support and educate them on making the right data decisions.
CEO & Co-founder Unacast