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Analysis

The value of LinkedIn Location
Natalie Newman By: Natalie Newman, Senior Analyst, Bloor Research
Published: 13th July 2011
Copyright Bloor Research © 2011
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We all know the value of the online networking site LinkedIn, with the useful groups available. I recently posted a question on the Location Intelligence and Geospatial BI group page asking "What are the main issues when trying to convince a business that adding location to their business intelligence will add value?"

The responses were good and varied but what made this even more interesting is the fact that the respondents were from many diverse professions and from a range of countries.

Joe Francica of Directions Media asked me to summarise the responses so that the interesting views and ideas could be shared with a wider audience.

The most important aspect that emerged is the importance of promoting the business value of location.

This is a good starting point for discussion. After all, the business needs to be convinced to invest. The decision-makers want to see solid business cases which focus on tangible business value. The return on investment (ROI) needs to be clearly emphasized in simple 'down to earth applications' that marketing and commercial teams can present.

When promoting location in business applications, the promoter should first clearly understand the context of the business under discussion before trying to make a case for location. There might not be a really good one!

During the initial engagement with potential users, it is important to avoid any discussion on technology. This will dilute the audiences' attention to the value obtained from adding the location and should be kept for discussion during for the second stage.

A major advantage to any initiative is a strong internal executive advocate or stakeholder. The stakeholder should be one who sees and understands the value in both the business insight that location enabled business intelligence can deliver and the time saved on decision-making.

Location is essential to measure business statistics-it often exposes information previously hidden, such as changes and trends. In fact, one contributor believes that where small to medium businesses (SMB) are concerned, 80% of strategic data is geographic.

There are many areas of business where location is vital such as land management, roads management, utilities etc. In all these areas, location, in fact, dictates where future growth can, or should, take place.

These obvious location applications are not usually the businesses that need to be convinced. It is the obscure and innovative applications of location that we, in the industry, need to identify and promote.

Simple and easy-to-use pragmatic solutions was a point that was emphasised strongly. I believe that the location industry has suffered in the past as a result of trying to promote complex location processing in technical terms. Now the abundance of case studies can be referenced to promote the inclusion of location into our information.

This approach to new business described by one contributor seems to employ really good common-sense tactics. (Unfortunately, these days common sense is not all that common-probably because the world has become very complex.) Executives respond to solid business cases that focus on a few clear uses that create tangible business value. So how much better to show them with reports and analysis created by their own teams, using their own data, in a proof of concept or trial-the only difference is adding location. This is achieved by providing a light-weight, user-managed solution with the option to instantly deploy as a hosted solution. Include the facility to load their own data and create and distribute their own interactive reports and analysis, and enable them to cost effectively start and then grow the system with proven value. The business ends up creating their own business case.

Another suggestion is to use existing business intelligence applications. Identify a challenging business problem and illustrates how location can enhance the intelligence and contribute to the solution. This exercise could also provide the business case to incorporate location into whole business intelligence (BI) process to achieve real and measurable success. The emphasis must be on analytics to make BI really intelligent.

Dashboard tools are the front end that the user sees. Therefore these must be simple intelligent tools; customised to match the business, using their terminology and suiting their level of comfort to provide the answers they need to support their decision-making. Simple and 'user-friendly' is the key!

Another useful tip mentioned is that BI tools should require no code development to implement the solution. This enables the business to change their BI tool easily if future needs dictate.

Data security is a growing issue in all information, systems and devices but is of major concern in the private sector, such as retail, telecommunications and probably a few others too.

The quality of location data is a subject that could raise an issue. There are mixed qualities, mixed Spatial Reference Systems, projected and non-projected. It is not possible to mix projection systems as they need to be merged into a common reference system. Mixing quality, I believe, is not a problem as long as the quality is a known property. The resulting intelligence can be attributed accordingly.

The UK is privileged to have accurate post code address data which can be instantly converted into a location on the earth's surface. Where addresses are not postal, the Ordnance Survey had built information to cover the gaps. I am not sure what systems are available to other countries. This could be a future discussion point.

As mentioned earlier, the source of these contributions came from a wide range of people. As we continuously learn from our own experiences, how much more valuable it is to share our lessons. Communications have really provided us with exciting resources.

We thank those mentioned below for their contributions:

  • Graham Stickler, Marketing Director, Wootton Bassett, UK
  • Omer Soysal, Assistant Professor of Research, Louisiana State University, USA
  • Mike Connor, VP Business Development, San Francisco, USA
  • Rick Warren, Director in Wireless Services, Atlanta, USA
  • Raghuram Narasimhan, Land Cover Scientist, University of Maryland, USA
  • Laurent Layrol, Remote Sensing, Washington, USA
  • Alain Laliberté, Route development & GIS Analyst, Montreal, Canada
  • Giovanni Corcione, Sales Consultant, Roma, Italy
  • Juan Peralta Malvar, Account Manager in Public Sector, Albacete, Spain
  • Greg Webster, Business Development Manager, Sydney, Australia
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