There was a time not so long ago that business leaders might have thought that the only map they needed was the one on their website, helping people find their business.
Today, geo-intelligence is now seen as central to a successful business. It reveals important patterns and trends and tells a rich story; answering key questions that impact business success such as how close is public transit or parking, who lives/works in the neighbourhood, what competition is nearby and ultimately, is this the best place to expand? It prevents ‘going with your gut’ planning and instead provides you with the ability to make data-driven decisions and even more importantly, brings up questions you haven’t even thought of yet.
Every business holds a treasure trove of data within their sales systems waiting to reveal unique paths forward. The key is learning how to draw upon that internal intelligence to answer your pressing business questions. Learning how to leverage the power of Insights for ArcGIS could make the difference between throwing a dart while blindfolded to land on your strategy and taking purposeful aim. Training just one person can help you answer questions you didn't know to ask, and quickly deliver powerful results. What would they learn? They would be able to answer these four questions:
- What happened?
- How did it happen? (This is where most businesses stop)
- What will happen? Followed by the all-important,
- What should I do?
Let’s take a closer look at the four types of analytics answering those key questions (in this instance relating to a storefront baby clothing business).
Descriptive (What happened?)
The visualization of data through graphs and charts condenses big data into smaller more useful nuggets. Placed on a map, they can help explain exactly why there is no foot traffic from the neighbourhood, into your store.
Visualization of store locations, customers that have shopped and sales by location.
Diagnostic (How did it happen?)
This level of analysis helps you see the difference between your regular shoppers and new customers. It turns out that new parents (potential clients) aren’t in the proximity of your store.
Predictive (What will happen?)
This is how you validate your gut instinct. Your new store is not as successful as the others; this helps you decide if you should accelerate/stall its closure. A spreadsheet won’t tell you what geographic information will: a new transit line is going in beside your ‘dud’ store that could change everything.
The data you learn from these analytics tells you what all your top stores have in common. Will this new store take the 5 years to break even like your other two stores? Your marketing department, your realtor, your lawyer, your accountant can’t tell you.
Analytics can help you predict success with greater accuracy.
In the centre maps above, we illustrate how Insights for ArcGIS helps predict where sales could increase based on future demographic projections using current sales and demographic regression modeling.
Prescriptive (What should we do?)
When you truly know who your customers are, not the aspiring customers your advertising suggests they are, when you know their shopping habits, and how far they are willing to travel for instance, then you can make truly informed decisions about the future. You’ll know where you should expand. Which locations aren't going to perform. You’ll have a much broader and deeper sense of your business.
When we look at markets there are many differences between individual customers, groups of customers and their neighbors. These variations can be explained by location and how it impacts shopping patterns and behaviors. In this storymap (based in the San Francisco area), we go deep into the factors that are really important to customer activity and store performance.
You can change a lot of things in a business, but you can’t monkey around with geography. Location analytics is the ‘big reveal’ in business and that’s something that at Esri we’ve known for 35 years.
About the Author
Paul Voegtle is the Product Specialist for Location Analytics at Esri Canada. He helps clients understand the value of their data by applying location analytics using GIS. He helps them visualize data and conduct in-depth analyses through maps to uncover patterns and trends that make their data more meaningful. Paul has more than 15 years’ experience in the location analytics industry, working with customers in banking, insurance, retail, government, real estate and utilities.More Content by Paul Voegtle