Category Archives: Industry Focus

When Customer Demographics Don’t Match Expected Purchases

Historically, people’s interaction, including where and how, has been captured by different systems. This is because people go through many channels: social media, online apps, email, coupons, or brick-and-mortar stores. Location can be used to collect this information and serve as a common denominator to bring it all together. And this can be easily done with Location-as-a-Service (LaaS).

LaaS is a new concept that combines the two main categories of cloud computer services—platform infrastructure and software as a service (SaaS). LaaS does this in three ways: Continue reading

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A Lifeline for Power Lines

Managing the Three Ts of Electric Transmission with GIS

Where were you on August 14, 2003, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time)? That’s when much of the northeastern United States was blacked out. No power. Sweaty office workers stuck in elevators from Manhattan to Cleveland. Traffic signals dead everywhere. Tons of food spoiled. At the time, people were still wary from the September 11 attacks.

The culprit for disaster this time? Well, there were many. But two of them were rather skinny Ailanthus trees that had become a little too big for their britches.

The trees grew too close to the heavily loaded Stuart-Atlanta 345 kV transmission line, a major power corridor between the United States and Canada. When transmission lines carry a lot of power, their conductors sag. As fate would have it, at the worst possible time, the sagging lines came in contact with those two little trees. So the line tripped out. This was one in a series of cascading events—which created one of the largest power failures in the nation’s history. Continue reading

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What Black Friday Tells Us about Omni-channel and How Location Can Help

Black Friday 2015 saw the most tangible evidence to date that retail has changed. While it remains a key day for sales for both consumers and retailers, consumers are shopping in new ways. They are shopping earlier than ever (some stores opened on Thanksgiving afternoon for Black Friday shoppers) and more cleverly than before (price comparisons between local shops is easy to do thanks to a multitude of apps). The holiday shopping season promotions and huge sales peaks of yesteryear have been replaced by year-round provisions, advanced planning, earlier shopping, and mixing both online and in-store purchase channels.

Total in-store shopping was about the same as a year ago, but online sales grew by more than $1 billion, pushing total sales ahead of 2014. Email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014, while for the first time ever, the majority of online traffic came from mobile devices driving traffic through improved apps and mobile sites on tablets and smartphones. Continue reading

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Seven Easy Ways to Use Location as a Service

Retail is a location-centric business. Every transaction; every customer’s home address, online search, and IP connection; every coupon offered and used; every delivery, store, and missed omni-channel purchase—each one of these can be analyzed and connected to any and every other action by location.

If retailers use location analytics delivered as a service to drive their omni-channel initiatives, they can know so much more about their customer interactions and expectations. Individual transactions become touch points along a journey to purchase, and new patterns emerge from oceans of data—islands of concrete value and understanding that grow and interconnect, linking silos and breaking down barriers.

Here are seven easy ways to use Location as a Service (LaaS) to bring new insight and add value to every transaction to gain a more intimate understanding of the customer: Continue reading

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Five Steps to Help You Find the Next Great Idea in Real Estate

Working with commercial real estate (CRE) professionals for nearly a decade has given me some interesting insight into this sector of the economy. The CRE sector can sometimes seem chaotic. Over the last decade, I have seen CRE professionals prosper where others have failed. While I don’t purport to be an expert, I have had the opportunity to see what success in CRE looks like. From my perspective, one trend seems to stand out. It’s not secret sauce or something someone learns from those get-rich-quick schemes we see advertised on late night television. The common thread among leaders in CRE is that they see opportunity where no one else does.


Information, Location, Strategy — the Trifecta of CRE Success

OK, that’s great, I’ve stated the obvious. But how do you do it? There is no magic opportunity wand; there is only what you know about the market. Therein lies the real secret to success in real estate—having access to information. Continue reading

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Localization and Location as a Service (LaaS)

Today’s customers expect a seamless experience as they research, engage and purchase across mobile, web and physical store locations. Successful retailers have put customer retention, marketing, and back-end IT systems in place to make sense of these behaviors in order to enhance the customer experience.

Many retailers are using localization, applying the unique nature of specific locations to reflect the product or service being offered, to integrate messaging and operations across these channels.

What is localization? In this context, it is using local market characteristics to place the right products at the right price in the right store at the right time. It requires location-specific planning and execution strategies across departments included targeted marketing, sales, merchandizing, store operations and distribution.

This movement uses data-driven processes and solutions, including gathering and analyzing local customer demographics, to better understand what needs to be offered in each location. Retailers do this in hopes of getting marketing, distribution, merchandizing, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations all working in harmony. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, many times, the results haven’t lived up to the hype.

Why is this? One reason is that retailers have missed one fundamental element,  the location in localization. For all the focus on integrating demographics, merchandizing, transaction history and store size and format, none of these systems have been designed to truly create, manage, and share location-based insight. Continue reading

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Four Maps of American Health You Need to See

Eat your fruits and veggies. Drink plenty of water. Exercise 30 minutes a day. That’s the perfect recipe for good health, right? Well, not quite.

The truth is, your health depends on much more. Thanks to advances in mapping technology, today’s health professionals know that where you live, work, learn, and play has an incredible impact on your well-being.

Interactive maps paint the picture of community health, showing the spatial relationship between disparities, illness, and location—like visualizing how a neighborhood with no playgrounds influences childhood obesity. Maps offer rich insights that can help drive positive change in Americans’ lives.

Check out these four maps to explore the health challenges that permeate the United States and how place plays a pivotal role. Continue reading

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Turn the Lights Back on with GIS and Operations Dashboards

Distribution utilities can never guarantee uninterrupted power. A heavy storm, a fallen branch, a car accident or even scheduled maintenance can easily down electric lines. While disruptions are inevitable, what sets an agile and leading utility apart from the rest is its ability to quickly restore service and minimize outages, improving overall reliability.

One of the keys to rapid and effective outage response is efficient internal communication. How does information flow within the organization? Do staff, managers and directors have an up-to-the-minute understanding of how systems are performing, and what is being done to optimize that performance?

Access to real-time, accurate information about the current state of the utility’s network is critical to making intelligent decisions, especially during outages. Many utilities may already have the geographic information system (GIS) technology in place with a long-term vision of enabling this, but often, that goal remains unrealized. Continue reading

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It’s the Law! Really?

Utility Pros, Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge the Status Quo—the ArcGIS Platform Has Your Back

Twenty-five years ago, when I worked for a power company, I was the champion of the GIS project. As champion, I had a mission to get the most use out of the company’s investment in geospatial tools. We didn’t talk about GIS as a platform back then, but the idea was to share authoritative network data with everyone who could benefit from it. It was often a battle. Why? People were so used to using paper maps that anything different was frowned on by the field users. In fairness, they were concerned about safety. If one of their primary tools, like their operating maps, looked different, it might cause someone to be confused. Confusion, of course can, lead to accidents. Continue reading

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Challenging Banks to Take an Uber-like Approach to Innovation

Today’s shopping takes place mainly via credit and debit cards that are linked directly to banks. Stores use details from your bank so you can buy online on the Web and through branded apps. While newer mobile payments from Apple, Google, and others are starting to cause disruption to this, basically the model is the same. Details are provided to a third party who brokers the sale when sufficient funds are available to cover the purchase.

This is causing some to view branches as increasingly irrelevant. Why? Because mobile transactions like payments and deposits (you can take a picture of a check while lounging at your home now, for example) are removing the reasons consumers need to visit a bricks-and-mortar bank.


Scaling up service to change the model

Financial institutions are missing out. What if institutions with 18th century business ideas took an Uber-like approach to innovation? Instead of a collection of apps on a customer’s phone, what if there was only one?  And what if that app was for the consumer’s bank, not a store? Continue reading

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