We live in a time of change. COVID-19 has disrupted the world. Business is adjusting to a ‘new normal’. Those organisations who most successfully navigate these new waters; survive and flourish, will be those who make the best use of data. The locational component of that data will be key.

How so?

Let’s cover that question in this blog.

Digital transformation and data ..

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.

Many organizations are realising the need to fully embrace digital technology. What was once a nice to have is now a necessity. At the heart of any digital system is data. Data can take many forms, but it is becoming the fuel which powers all businesses.

For this article, we will focus on location data. As the old saying goes “Everything happens somewhere”. That is a reference to location or people and places. For retailers that means better understanding customers, and their changing behaviour. Many have begun to call this location intelligence (LI).

There are two phases to LI adoption.

Level 1 – Who are our customers?

Many retailers focus on customers at the POS, but still know little about each customer: Where they live, their age, family size etc. Level 1 helps retailers build that foundational knowledge.

Retail Demographic Data

Image 1 – Geospatial 1.0: Mapping Retail Demographic Data

Examples of level 1 knowledge includes mapping trade areas, demographics, drive-times etc.

Though yesterday remains important. Thanks to COVID-19, what we can learn from yesterday has changed. Today 22% of office space in downtown Salt Lake City is occupied. Most of these folks are today working from home. That is a big change. In contrast, 77% of bars and restaurants have re-opened in downtown Salt Lake. Many rely on office workers. Office worker spending has moved from downtown to the suburbs. Will that remain true? Can retail businesses in downtown Salt Lake City survive? Will retailers in the suburbs benefit, and if so who?

These are questions currently without answers. But, the relevance of today (through these unpredictable, rapidly changing times) has never been greater. In the next section we will discuss today (and tomorrow). And the ability to make dynamic, fine grained, fast decisions based on consumer behaviour.

Level 2 – Insight-driven decision making ..

I regularly visit the Starbucks drive-in on Highland Drive in Cottonwood Heights. It’s Tuesday. It’s 12:30 pm. Outside its 100 degrees. I’ve just made an order through my Starbucks app, which I plan to pick-up.

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What is relevant about the above paragraph to this article?

Data that is what. There are 5 data points in that paragraph: Day, time, outside temperature, order and location. This is data about me. It is not historic data, its about the now.

How might Starbucks use that data? Might they nudge me to influence my behaviour at that moment (“Here is a coupon Matt for $3 off a cooling milk shake”), maybe use it for future interactions or engagements, pool my data with others who use the drive-in on Highland Drive and use predictive analysis to help streamline the products offered over the day.

On the larger scale, today’s technology makes it far easier to gather data on customers current behaviour. And location is a key data component. Using the earlier example, if I’m no longer working out of an office in downtown Salt Lake. What are my new behaviours? Am I visiting new restaurants for lunch, ordering take-out? Is touch free important to me, so curb-side pick-up is a big deal?

Historical data will answer none of these questions.

Using new arificial intelligence techniques (AI) to aggregate (static and dynamic) data, then analysing that data, leveraging the location component, and generating an outcome in real or near-real time is incredibly powerful.

Geospatial intelligence enables organizations to be insight-driven delivering immediate outcomes through a deep understanding of a person (or thing) and their behaviour.

Why of there ..

Our company WhyofThere provide guidance, advice and implementation on geospatial digital transformation. We help organizations better use their data, particularly the locational component of that data. And how it can be used to understand better people and places. During such a time of change, it is critical to be insight-driven. Data, both past and present, is key to driving insight.  And that is our mission, to help you not only survive this time of disruption, but to thrive.

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