2019 was a tremendous year of growth and evolution, both for Unacast and for the universe of location analytics. Over the past 12 months we matured into a full-service, end-to-end location analytics company, with quality oversight of every part of the process, from initial data collection to final delivery. For our clients, this meant a wider breadth of products and services than ever before. For the culture at large, it meant a newfound awareness of the power of location data, for good or ill, in a still-developing industry. As we look ahead to the coming year, we see no sign of either one slowing down. Below are the five biggest impacts we predict for location analytics in 2020:
Prediction #1: How People Shop Will Keep Changing
The trend away from brick-and-mortar retail and toward e-commerce has been prophesied, and well-documented, since the days when Amazon only sold books. While we don’t believe that physical stores will ever entirely disappear, our latest data tells us that an equilibrium has not yet been reached; retailers (and retail real estate companies) are still looking for the right balance of online and in-store customer experiences. More than ever before, they will use human mobility data to help guide their brand-specific strategies, site selection or closure, and store optimization — which means that they will need the most accurate data sets available. Unacast strives for the highest quality possible for exactly this reason; incorporating extrapolation, bias correction, and other methods help data sets accurately depict real-world events and provide the best possible jumping-off point for anticipating trends.
Prediction #2: More Businesses Will Benefit From Location Analytics
Currently, the majority of users of location analytics are large, established enterprises with high levels of technical sophistication, a flock of data scientists, and budget to match. At the same time, there are entire industries — such as commercial real estate — that don’t have such resources but deeply understand how valuable location analytics could be for their businesses. That’s where our insights come in. Mid-size and smaller organizations will be able to engage experts like the Unacast team, and tools like our new Report Studio, to reap the benefits of tailored location analytics without breaking the bank.
Other companies, like telcos, have the opposite problem — they’re sitting on mountains of proprietary location data without the means to process it privately. The Unacast Turbine platform enables these users to derive meaning from their location analytics without sharing or selling it. Which leads us to…
Prediction #3: Privacy Issues Will Come to a Head
California’s Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on January 1st, raising the standard for privacy and transparency to new heights. As the general public increases their awareness of the potential for the abuse of their personal information — often without consequence — they will increasingly look to government authorities to reign in bad actors. Under the Unacast hood beats a Norwegian heart, which means that our entire modus operandi is grounded in ethics and fairness. Not only will we stay ahead of the privacy curve for the sake of our clients, we will also become industry ambassadors that advise good-government groups looking to advance the privacy cause and do the right thing for their citizens.
Prediction #4: Crisis Management Will Take a Big Leap Forward
With hurricanes, blizzards, and other natural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity, climate change continues to have an ever-larger effect on human mobility. We believe that, with the right application, location analytics can be used to help develop plans that maximize safety and keep people healthy, whole, and out of harm’s way. Recently Microsoft used Unacast location data to complete an Azure-based analysis on the evacuation patterns from wildfires in California, with the aim of helping to reduce future casualties and damage (and if Australia is any indication, these strategies can’t come soon enough).
Prediction #5: Location Analytics Will Go Global
Many companies that already leverage location data and analytics are expanding their businesses in disparate parts of the world, creating a major need for a source of accurate, aggregated, anonymized insights for decision-making outside the United States. That’s why Unacast is rapidly expanding its international data offering — on every continent except Antarctica — to provide those companies with the same quality and coverage they’ve come to expect from American data sets.
2020 will most certainly bring new challenges — some anticipated, like the ones above, and others that no one will see coming. But with such a strong foundation and a ton of momentum, we Unacasters are excited by the expanding market for location analytics and eager to develop new applications that benefit not only clients, but also the community at large. Be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to share the ride with us. Meantime, Happy New Year from everyone at Unacast!