The need to understand the power of location data creates a new kind of business analyst. As the digitization of information has accelerated, producing massive amounts of data, companies have discovered that almost all datasets contain or can be explained using geographic knowledge and relationships.
As a result, this new generation of promising specialists understands both business and location. They bring a constellation of highly desired characteristics to their businesses, including the ability to use data to tell strategic stories about people and places, brands and markets. They have the technical skills to understand and apply geolocation knowledge to solve some of the most pressing and important issues facing businesses, including the following:
How to analyze and adjust supply chains for efficiency and sustainability
· How? ‘Or’ What determine the optimal routes for deliveries, services or sales, and remain agile in response to local needs, time of day, traffic conditions, delivery loads and weather conditions
How to analyze demographic changes for decide where to expand operations and provide services that better support the community and clients
These analysts harness location intelligence and apply in-depth analysis based on Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to gain competitive business insights. Rather than using spreadsheets, they apply visualization techniques with smart maps and interactive dashboards that highlight critical information in a way that’s easy to understand, communicate and share. The range of possibilities includes measuring current sales across multiple sites; real-time asset performance monitoring; and visualize predictive analytics that uncover risks, patterns and trends. Inundated with real-time data and historical trends, business leaders across industries are turning to these new analysts to drive growth, efficiency and innovation.
The use of location analysis and GIS extends beyond traditional priorities to include the entire end result: profit, people and planet. These new analysts are developing contingency plans to maintain supply chain operations in the face of natural and man-made hazards, improve environmental sustainability, and monitor social equity measures associated with company and partner operations.
Here are some examples of this new type of analyst at work and how these analysts are contributing and creating change.
The new analyst, CSR and the result
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now an essential part of a company’s brand and a measure by which consumers assess the company’s position as a good corporate citizen. New analysts are using location intelligence in conjunction with CSR principles, such as sustainability and environmental management, to help companies succeed financially while remaining environmentally responsible.
In some cases, financial profitability and environmental sustainability are directly related. For example, companies that plant and harvest trees in natural forests have found that they need to have a comprehensive understanding of the forest ecologies with which they interact. If animals, plants and insects are not in balance, the forest as a whole will be weakened.
GIS- and smart-map-based data collection, synthesis and analysis can track the locations and sizes of indicator species, and even combine aerial image analysis to help users assess health plant and tree species. As preserving biodiversity becomes an even more essential part of sustaining business, the new role of analyst will become more relevant and broader.
In the wood resources example, without the location intelligence information and dashboards to monitor the forest, and without the new analysts to interpret the impacts and mitigate the risks, the next harvest of exploitable trees could to be in danger. This could mean higher raw material prices, decreased profits and increased risks for the lumber producer and all the businesses that use his trees.
Tell the customer a powerful digital story
New analysts are storytellers who use GIS to create compelling interactive presentations rather than PowerPoint slides to communicate options and present results. And they do it from a customer perspective, using hard facts, last-minute analysis and a visually expressive storytelling that meets customers’ business needs.
Even the most talented storytellers can find it difficult to bring the facts to life for the audience to help them make the best business decision. This is where the new analyst can help by providing smart cards and dashboards that allow the client to explore scenarios.
Instead of hard-to-interpret spreadsheets, location analysis translates information into intuitive, color-coded visuals that better communicate market and demographic trends. For example, location analysis can identify the best places for businesses to add distribution centers, open healthcare facilities, or invest in new product launches. Using GIS technology, the new analyst examines the factors that will determine success, such as local wages, affordability, population growth, traffic and prices for commercial real estate. These variables are used to highlight opportunities and areas of concern that indicate the best or riskiest places to do business. Some companies offer their geolocation services to clients such as advertisers, retailers, banks, hospitals and entertainment industry organizations to help them develop strategic marketing and expansion plans.
Pass the message on to the C-Suite
No matter how good an idea is, however good the insight, the message remains an abstraction unless the leadership supports it. Sometimes that means overcoming inertia, traditional thinking, corporate boundaries, information silos, or healthy skepticism.
Knowing how to approach the C-suite is a specialty of these new analysts, many of whom have learned to translate technical discourse and statistical analysis in the language of corporate culture.
Gaining leadership buy-in requires the ability to translate data and analysis into compelling information. The new location analyst can summarize and synthesize relevant and actionable data. These analysts contribute to both the short-term game plan and the long-term strategy for success.
Bring the location to the customer
Almost everyone is familiar with the adage ‘location, location, location’ when it comes to real estate investing – the new analyst brings a twist to this industry truism by emphasizing location intelligence.
Over the decades, brokers have taken their clients on tours of properties that include the surroundings as well as the property and structure itself. But the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced much of this age-old practice in person. To safely show off buildings and neighborhoods during the pandemic, brokers and developers turned to savvy analysts and software experts to create applications that lead the client to a realistic 3D model properties and surroundings.
Using these apps, clients and brokers explore realistic 3D models of the neighborhood or virtually walk around a building. They can also engage with relevant information and data about the space and its assets and amenities.
While not all new analysts can create a 3D model, GIS tools integrate easily with CAD software, so the analyst can merge data from these once separate disciplines. The new Location Analyst understands the power and value of big data and immersive tools to create the insights and engagement that drive sales through virtual tours.
New analysts research regional sales trends, tax districts, political voting trends, market demographics, and types of businesses opening nearby. They understand enough the needs of the business to know how to describe the interrelationships among the many factors. They also understand how to present these relationships so that they are easy to grasp and relevant to the customer.
New analysts are already in training
Colleges and universities are already meeting the growing demand for this new type of analyst. While each industry’s problems may be different, the approach to solving them is consistent and the techniques are the same. Convinced of the value, business leaders partner with colleges to hire and train professionals with the right skills to help transform the business.
Some companies even sponsor business analyst competitions between teams of students or business leaders and managers. Teams work on real-world problems using GIS-based location intelligence and other software to find award-winning answers.
In sectors ranging from energy To clothes in agriculture, this new generation of analysts is filling a void and driving growth in new areas of business – and its ranks are making a name for themselves as space commercial transformers.
To learn more about how companies are tapping into new analysts and their geolocation expertise, visit esri.com/location-intelligence.