The Significance of Where

Understanding how location can unlock critical information

Wed Oct 25 12:54:00 EDT 2017
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I remember being at school and learning about the ‘question’ words; who, what, where, when, why and how. To me, “where” sticks out more than the others. Of course, all of those other words are important, but the where is the key to truly understanding the others.

I know it’s a bit quirky but I always think about things in a geographic context. While I’m working from New York with my colleagues spread out across the world, I can visualize their own positions in Colorado, Vermont, India, or anywhere else clearly in my brain. 

In today’s world, location doesn’t seem to play as big of a role in determining business practices as it used to. My team’s own lack of a central office is testament to that. We all work from our computers, hopping on conference calls and group emails regardless of being miles or even an ocean away from one another.  All of this is wonderful but one cannot discount geography just because technology is making it ever easier to connect with others.

Understanding location can unlock information critical to any business practice or use case.  For example, imagine a commercial real estate developer. One of their clients is a coffee chain looking to expand into new markets. Let’s say the client gives this information to work with:

Our target customers are business people who stop in for coffee during the workday. Our coffee is moderately/expensively priced so we target customers in X income bracket. Our most successful stores see more customers walk to them instead of drive in and park.

From this, the following questions can arise;

  • Who are we targeting? Office employees with a certain level of income.
  • What are we looking for? A property or available space for a coffee chain to open in which they are not in currently.
  • When will the store operate? During normal business hours to attract office employees.
  • Why are they opening a new store? Proven success rates in similar markets.
  • How will this drive our business goals?  By expanding customer base/market footprint and increasing revenue.

What links all of these questions? Where. In order to ensure the above criteria are met, the real estate developer needs to pinpoint exact locations where the above plan and vision can be realized. Just find locations that fit the given criteria and you will have the missing piece of the puzzle. 

Earlier I mentioned visualizing my team’s whereabouts as we go about our daily tasks. I’m an innate geographer in this regard. Many of you may not have maps in your brains like I do. I know that maps and visualizing the all-important question of where is complex. So complex that people get master’s degrees or PhDs to fully understand it. With that said, it would be fantastic if the aforementioned real estate developer was able to answer the where question without going to all this trouble. The information is vital to their business practice whether or not they are looking at it on a map.

Enriching existing data with location-based information is a great way to get a reliable answer to the question of where efficiently. Finding that perfect location shouldn’t be a guessing game. All that technology and advancement I mentioned before? That has made location-based enriched data available and easy to use. Just perform a quick and simple lookup and the output is a highly informative list of attributes related to that question.

Everything has a geography, a location, an identity in relation to everything else. There are many ways to use this information, but isn’t the best way to be efficient and effective? I think so.

To learn more about our GeoEnrichment and Property Attribute offerings, visit pitneybowes.com/us/data/boundary-data