Navigating Your Data with Geospatial Analytics


By Michael Scalamogna

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a learning session on business intelligence tools. I was excited to get back to the office and apply what I’d learned, but one thing in particular stuck out: geospatial data.

At the risk of oversimplifying the concept, geospatial data is an address or a longitude/latitude coordinate. Think of your customer master file for a moment – you can consider any addresses associated with each customer geospatial data. In a broader sense, it’s any part of a dataset that relates to location.

But why is this data valuable to your business? It’s not industry-specific; and location is often the common factor across multiple datasets. This type of data has the potential to change the way you think about your business. Your marketing and sales team can go beyond asking analytical questions like  “where do my products sell?” and start finding answers to more important, predictive questions like “where WILL my products sell?” As a matter of fact, 75% of the data in your business applications probably contains geographic information, and a whopping 80% of business decisions involve some type of geographic data (Erskine).

The first few paragraphs of an article about geospatial data mining for market analytics provides some exciting industry-specific examples.

OK, big deal: visual representations of my data. Can’t I get to the same information without a map? Is there really any reason why I should request new reports or change existing ones? One study mentions a handful of other researchers who concluded that data sets with geographic components are best represented using geovisualization because it facilitates decision accuracy and decreases time spent on the decision-making process (Erskine).

Geospatial data can be analyzed on multiple business intelligence platforms (Cognos, SQL Server Reporting Services, etc.). It’s also relatively simple to set up, so your business analysts won’t have to learn an entire new skill set. Many business intelligence tools come equipped with the files necessary to start or you can download your own. A number of marketing analytics tools on the market also use geospatial data.

Geospatial data has the potential to change the way we see our business and enhance our decision-making process.

Works Cited:

Erskine MA, Gregg DG, Karimi J, Scott JE. Business Decision-Making Using Geospatial Data: A Research Framework and Literature Review. Axioms. 2014; 3(1):10-30.

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