Location, location, location: What's old is new again

Helping businesses take advantage of big data

Thu Oct 12 10:56:52 EDT 2017

The amount of data being generated every day from cell phones, wearable tech, smart sensors, POS transactions, and countless other sources is mind-boggling. It’s safe to say that big data is way past the buzzword phase and is here to stay. Businesses that learn how to take advantage of the insight it can provide will gain an edge. So what’s the best way to gain value from big data? Simply add a technology twist to the old saying, “location, location, location” and you just might have your answer.

Whether it’s a social media check-in, a credit card transaction, or signals coming from a smart watch or connected vehicle, almost everything we do is associated with a location. Organizations know this and are beginning to use location as the common denominator for the mountain of data available to them. Doing so allows for patterns to be found between seemingly unrelated data and reveals context and insight to consumer behavior, market trends and more.

Take a retailer, for example. Our favorite stores have an enormous amount of historical data on customer transactions. They know what we’ve purchased, when and where we bought it, and what we used to pay for it. Imagine combining that data with real-time location data coming from a consumer’s smartphone that has the retailers app installed. It’s suddenly possible for the retailer to message a customer as they approach their store, or better yet, their competitor’s store, with an offer that’s personal to that specific customer’s preferences and spending habits.

Auto insurance provides another great use case for big data and location. Imagine two policy holders that have the same vehicle, live on the same street, and share similar demographics. An insurer would likely offer the same rates to both drivers. But if the insurer was able to utilize telematics data from the drivers’ vehicles and then GeoEnrich that data (the process of adding contextual information about a location), they would likely find important differences. Driver A frequently goes through an accident-prone intersection during rush-hour and parks his car in an area with high crime rates, while driver B generally drives back roads during non-rush hour and parks her car in a parking garage that has regular security patrols. This information would allow the insurer to price the policies according to the risk they assume for the specific individual, instead of pricing the policies based upon shared characteristics such as vehicle type and zip codes. 

And despite what may seem like “big brother-ish” tracking, studies are showing that consumers are actually welcoming the increased personalization and relevance of the advertising and products they consume. It makes their day more efficient, saves them money, and helps them to discover new products. And, of course, businesses see this approach as an opportunity to become more efficient and profitable because they can target the right person at the right time with the right offer or message.

To learn more about location intelligence, read When it comes to analytics, X marks the spot: Location intelligence is driving new insights and providing surprising benefits, a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by Pitney Bowes.