Location Awareness is Your Competitive Advantage

By Amy Fobes
CMO, The Location Forum
Boulder, Color.

arrows03Unlike any other time in history, businesses and consumers now have access to geographical tools, social media platforms and mobile devices for sharing vast amounts of data at an unprecedented pace. Leveraging these location services offers businesses new ways to identify, engage and capitalize on previously overlooked economic geographies of opportunity, giving rise to a new geo-social economy that spans the globe, yet directly impacts local markets.

Being competitive in this new economy has made location awareness a critical core competency for every industry. Location awareness is changing how businesses make decisions, manage risks and obtain hyper-local insight. The challenge for every business in this economy is determining how to be smart with its investments and its use of location intelligence.

Success with location intelligence is a combination of enterprise vision, specific business objectives, and often-times the ability to orchestrate an organization’s cacophony of IT investments. This combination requires evaluation of technology tools and test data sources for alignment with business objectives, accuracy and reliability.

With any new buzzwords, such as location intelligence, it is often vendors and consultants who are attached to particular technology platforms, whose voices represent the majority of evangelizing and educating on the latest must-have solution. As a result, strategic thinkers are often challenged with rising above the sales hype and required to conduct time-consuming benchmarks in order to research and test one solution against another. Imagine an independent “business lab” that would foster the opportunity to develop and collaborate on innovative ideas around the practical uses of technology, tools and data, before making costly investments.

Rarely does any one business have the right people, data and technology tools in place to design and implement successful analytics for driving game-changing strategies across the enterprise. Instead, many costly, disparate and small-scale projects that often lead to a duplication of effort are initiated. In addition, a lack of an enterprise roadmap results in further stressing an already over-burdened IT department with new requirements.

To focus on innovation, collaboration and education of location intelligence, a new community of business leaders has formed to launch The Location Forum, a non-profit industry association whose objective is to offer a “business lab” on the forefront of driving business applications that depend on geo-social technologies. Members of the Forum are addressing and overcoming common misconceptions and barriers to success for the implementation of location intelligence solutions. The founding members include a wide range of companies across several industries, including real estate, retail, communications, location, data and data analytics, financial services, and asset management.

“Imagine an independent ‘business lab’ that would foster the opportunity to develop and collaborate on innovative ideas around the practical uses of technology, tools and data, before making costly investments.”

Despite all the websites and publications that refer to location intelligence as LBS, GPS, GIS, “geospatial solutions” or “business intelligence,” there is no single objective common venue for resources on how to implement the location dimension to any business’s strategy, operations or service portfolio until the launch of The Location Forum’s “business lab.” A location intelligence “business lab” offers all companies an opportunity to accelerate their competitive advantages by developing and exchanging best practices on the use of geo-location solutions.

With a cross-section of expertise and perspective, members are able to tackle every business problem from any angle and produce relevant, cutting-edge projects that can be readily utilized, applied and implemented into a business setting. Initial projects have included best-practice reports, guidebooks and frameworks designed to answer many strategic and operational location intelligence business questions for making smarter decisions on technology and data investments. The Forum’s “business lab” is a practical solution for bringing peers together to investigate, evaluate and vet their options for creating new competitive advantages with location services and applications. The main objective of The Location Forum is to establish a business platform for the exchange of ideas and to develop new approaches for innovation, collaboration and education of location awareness:

→  Innovate: With developments occurring at blinding speed, the Forum provides a venue for exchanging breakthrough ideas about the new opportunities – and challenges – associated with location from a business perspective.

→ Collaborate: Acting as a community, the Forum enables like- minded professionals to join together, solve problems and share their results with other members and the industry at large.

→ Educate: Because location is an emerging area with little documented experience, the Forum acts as a knowledge hub, o ering a range of information resources, pointers and mentoring connections that in turn feed the industry’s momentum.

Many businesses know they need to incorporate location intelligence into their business strategies but are often wary of costly innovations or experiments that may not yield a clear business benefit. As a result, many companies remain stuck in a largely observatory mode, which often results in watching their window of opportunity close.

While all successful companies rely on R&D for experimentation and innovation, we seem to have entered an era of increased risk aversion. Yet, without innovation, how does a company maintain a competitive advantage in a rapidly shifting economy? The real challenge for organizations today is to identify a practical path to innovation. Location solutions are moving at warp speed. Business success is predicated on when to act and when to wait. This is a time for action. As the noted Norwegian economist Trygve Haavelmo has observed, “There are two types of experiments. Those we should make and those which we merely watch as passive observers.” (Source: HBR, A Step-By-Step Guide To Smart Business Decisions, March 2011.)

Whether you are new to the concepts of location awareness or a seasoned veteran of the location industry, you cannot afford to be passive about the power of location. The Location Forum is the first organization to provide a business platform to discuss innovations and practical approaches for positioning your company for success in the new geo-social economy.

To learn more about the resources available or to inquire about membership in The Location Forum, please send an email to afobes@thelocationforum.org.