Location Intelligence and Mobile BI: The future of BI

Founder of Dresner Advisory Services and former Gartner Research Fellow, Howard Dresner, has proclaimed that Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) will become the platform for BI in the not-too-distant future. Whilst this statement may seem very bold, perhaps even outlandish at first, it’s probably fairly close to the truth.

Growth of Mobile BI

Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey indicated that the majority (53%) of organizations will deliver some form of mobile analytics by year’s end. Various industry surveys outlining BI’s major developments over the next 12 months – by InformationWeek and TechTarget et al – reveal similar adoption rates. In an increasingly instantaneous, highly dispersed and technologically savvy global working environment, the ability of Mobile BI to deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time, will only become more important. Forrester Research has suggested that “enterprise mobile workers will make up 73 percent of the workforce in 2012”.

So Dresner’s right. But he’s only half right. Mobile BI alone doesn’t represent the future of BI. Mobile BI in conjunction with Location Intelligence (LI) does.

Growth of Location Intelligence

Demand for LI has grown rapidly over the last few years. LI enables business analysts and report consumers to apply geographic contexts to business data – LI combines location-based data with traditional metrics captured within a BI system. It helps answer a business problem by providing context to business data. Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey revealed that many organizations, across a diverse range of industries, are beginning to apply BI and analytics to new business areas. As a result, respondents listed “geographic-intelligent functions” as one of the standout new product requirements for 2012.

As organizations collect more and more data, the ability to map, visualize and understand data form a geographic standpoint will become an increasingly important part of any BI solution. Why? Because, according to IDC, more than 80 percent of the data collected by organizations has a spatial element. The ability to overlay demographic or statistical data onto a map provides an additional level of analysis, both aiding, and adding to your interpretation of the data. By combining geographic data with traditional/standard business data, users are provided with the insights and context to make better decisions. Without LI capabilities, organizational data is handicapped – stored in a virtual straitjacket.

What type of information workers stand to benefit most from the amalgam of Location Intelligence and Mobile BI?

So who stands to benefit most from the amalgam of LI and Mobile BI – the ability to analyze geospatial data from any device, anywhere, anytime?

Dresner’s latest Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study shows that senior executives and managers remain the primary user group targeted for Mobile BI deployments. In fact, 82 percent of respondents indicated as such. Significantly, this figure also rose markedly from 2010’s inaugural study, where 68 percent of organizations stated that executives would be the principal recipients of mobile analytics.

Organizations, from a breadth of industries, have clearly realized the potential benefits that Mobile BI presents to the time-poor, multi-device using, always on-the-go executive.

But these issues are common for smartphone or tablet using executives of any background, as they rush from meetings, to the boardroom, the airport, client sites, and individual branches or stores.

How can LI on mobile devices benefit executives of companies with location-based assets and infrastructure in specific industries? Well, if you’re an executive working in any of the below businesses, imagine being able to explore your data like this whenever, and wherever you require:

  • Retail: You’re an area manager for retail conglomerate CheapStuff. The northwestern sector of your region is underperforming. The situation demands your personal attention. Luckily, you can take all the location-based information you need with you on your smartphone, allowing you to:
    • Track stock levels of individual retail operators to coordinate warehouse deliveries to ensure individual shop fronts are always well stocked
    • Categorize underperforming stores to assess their ongoing viability and ability to raise profits
    • Assess the sales of particular items by store to determine effective and efficient sales campaigns and stock distribution
    • Assess customer purchase habits, frequency and residency to help new marketing campaigns boost store traffic and sales
      • Segment customers in a multi-dimensional way via purchase history, demography as well as location, to develop highly effective and personalized relationships
      • Identify the location of potential customers and suggest specialized marketing messages via location-specific mediums
    • Detect and mitigate unnecessary competition between regional stores
    • Forecast and redevelop store-specific budgets and expectations based on the size of surrounding populations and other location specific information
  • Insurance companies: A natural disaster strikes. You and a team of assessors from InsuroClaim fly out to survey the damage. Being able to identify the proximity of customers in relation to the disaster zone, and pair that information with customer insurance policies to determine their level of cover, is critical.
  • Mining and exploration: You work for Big Mining Co. Mineral exploration requires and utilizes a diverse range of data types and techniques, including satellite and geophysical images, geologic maps and a plethora of databases. LI functionality within a BI platform can incorporate and utilize these varying information sources, converting and presenting that information in usable and meaningful forms, capable of providing significant insight and adding considerable business value. Over its lifecycle, mining exploration generates a huge amount of spatially significant data. Imagine being able to:
    • Monitor assets;
    • Track sub-surface infrastructure;
    • Monitor, track and assess the availability of staff;
    • Monitor competitors;
    • Monitor the environmental impacts of exploration and mining activities;
    • Establish the location of hazardous materials;
    • Monitor work-related incidents and establish appropriate OH&S protocols;
    • Compare pre-approved sites with geographic phenomena, features and obstacles;

All while standing on a prospective exploration site.

For more detail check out our blog – Location Intelligence for Mining and Exploration

  • Airports and airlines: You’re head of nation-wide maintenance operations for airline Prestige Air. Combing the location of aircraft with other operational data can expose and answer critical questions. You’re currently located at Make Believe airport in ImaginationLand. As you walk along the tarmac with your iPad, you’re able to access and assess the maintenance record of the aircraft currently at the airport. Based on that record, you can determine if it’s reasonably safe to turn the aircraft around for back-to-back flights, or whether it needs an immediate inspection and safety check.

Conclusion: Where is no longer an excuse

The insight able to be leveraged by assessing location-based data on mobile devices is enormous. LI is the glue that binds organizational data assets together, generating context, meaning and exposing crucial relationships between data types. Mobile BI is the platform of the future for reporting and analytics, as executives abandon their desks, and spend more time amongst assets, employees and customers.

With the intensification of trends towards globalization, outsourcing and the instantaneous (driven by our constant connectivity courtesy of the Internet), not knowing will no longer be an excuse, no matter where you, or your company’s operations, are located.

Further reading: Still not convinced?

Still not convinced? Check out some of our recent blog posts on Location Intelligence:

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