Geo-enabling Digital India

Esri India  in association with The Economic Times, brought forth the importance of Location Analytics  during The Location Intelligence Summit 2014. Held at The Trident Hotel, BKC, Mumbai, the intriguing seminar shed light on some amazing insights on how the mere location modification of a company’s store or warehouse led to a key contributing factor in augmenting the business revenues by drastic levels.

Linda Peters, Global Business Development, Esri Inc commenced the summit by stating how every aspect of a business—right from consumers to suppliers, offices to warehouses—has a location attached to it. “With technological advancements, location is now moving digitally. Mobile is bringing in the change and making our location present in the virtual space. Even to order coffee, I no longer have to physically go to the store, I can order online. For me the store is present online,” she said. 

Locations helps you analyse your company’s performance, what areas are doing well, which offices to close, which further helps in market planning, what should be the placement of stores etc, since what might work at a particular place might not work even two blocks away. 

Commencing the panel discussion, Bhavit Desai, Global Retail, Real Estate, and Logistics Consultant stated the importance of technology in location intelligence. “Taking of the example of banking, technology has proven its presence in augmenting customer service and bringing the bank to your doorstep. Smartphone apps help in garnering customer information, information on competitor’s behavior, enriching and analysing the data, and eventually, taking action and monitoring the action. Location intelligence, thus, goes beyond site selection. It helps understand where the customer is going, analyse his behavior and further take suitable marketing actions.”

The discussion was moderated by Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India who started by focusing on the answers which location intelligence aims to provide. Milind Deshpande, Senior Vice President, Reliance Jio, opined, “Location intelligence should be able to answer questions like ‘Will I be able to serve my customers better?’ ‘Will I reach my workforce earlier?’ ‘Will I be able to direct my staff to reach my customers earlier,’ etc.” Peeyush Bajpai, Chief Operating Officer- Indicus Analytics, linking location to information, added that the single factor which provides relevancy to location is context. “The minute you provide context to data, it becomes information. If you want to analyse your brand’s performance, location gives it the context. At times, changing the location changes the entire perspective—even it is just by a mile or a road,” added Bajpai. As technology advances, potential of location mapping increases manifold. You don’t need to physically be at a place anymore to enjoy its benefits, you can virtually reach there to gain its advantages.

Kaushik Ghate, Vice President and Head—Analytical Marketing (Retail Liabilities, Premium Banking and Direct Banking Channels), HDFC Bank kept forth a question going through everybody’s mind—How would you use and integrate within your system the possibilities of location intelligence. “People should realise the importance of return on investment when they are spending money on location intelligence. Know what location will work for you and by what figure will it bring changes to your business,” he added. Since markets and consumer preferences evolve daily, you should know where you stand in front of your competition; what works where and where it fails. Thus essential tools to give insights into locations are important. You can use this data not just in your research and market development, but also in marketing. “If you have location insights, you know what location works best and where you should invest. Your real-estate costs can come drastically down by this insight,” added Kumar. Bajpai mentioned how data is now available for every city and block of India. People always feel the need to have data in hand to know how their brand will perform. Satellite imageries, census, demographic insights, etc are all ways to get data about a particular place. “Location analytics can even be used in supply chain and distribution as one knows where exactly a product will work and what time and what kind of manpower will be required to drive its distribution in a particular area,” mentioned Desai.

Taking cue from this, Wolfgang Hall, Global Industry Manager—Logistics and Supply Chain, Esri Inc mentioned the importance of location intelligence in visualisation, analysis and opitimisation in risk mapping and planning in supply chain management. “Supply chain in any business is driven by risk management, which can be tapped by risk mapping. Social media can be used to get real time data, in case of any calamity. By analyzing location data, you can do proper territory analysis and get your sales team to drive tasks efficiently. By knowing how stores are performing and their exact location, I know where to send my sales people and rightly deal with an issue. This way, I optimised the location of my sales people, my store, and my customer and took corrective measures at a quicker pace.”

Mapping can also help you with firstly, density analysis, that helps you to know which brand has more customers. Secondly, it helps analyze the buying behavior of the customers by tracking how a customer is behaving in a particular store or area. Companies can prevent and mitigate risks, allocate adequate resources, monitor and augment profits and create effective branding strategies by knowing and realising the power of location analytics. With various tools and technological advancements now available, it is just a matter of time when the power of this intelligence can be fully unleashed.