The relentless march of digital transformation has not left the physical world untouched — particularly when it comes to understanding and engaging with customers. First, customers digitally connected to brands via PCs, then mobile devices, and now via a continuous tidal wave of emerging owned IoT devices (e.g., wearables, connected cars, etc.) and non-owned IoT devices (e.g., video, in-store tracking, etc.). Location is now critical to understanding the context of customer engagement in our rapidly digitizing physical world.

A new type of location intelligence (LI) is needed beyond traditional map-, asset-, and operational-centric practices to understand our customers in this rapidly digitizing world. It’s time for LI to be revamped for the age of the customer. Enterprise practices and technologies must now allow firms to contextually understand their customer during moments of engagement using their location — and at the speed of engagement. Forrester has formally defined this smarter practice for real-world customer obsession:

Location intelligence is the practice of collecting and managing customer location data, enriching it with other data sources, and analyzing for contextual insights for the purposes of informing optimized actions, decisions, and customer experiences.

To support a location intelligence practice, multiple capabilities for managing customer location and associated data must be brought together with those for spatial visualization, analysis, and activation. Tech vendors have responded, and an early location intelligence platforms market serving the needs of customer-obsessed organizations has emerged. In support of this market, Forrester recently embarked on a deep-dive analysis of eight key players, including CARTO, Esri, Galigeo, MapLarge, Near, Oracle, Pitney Bowes, and Ubimo. The results were published in the first-ever “The Forrester Wave™: Location Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2018” evaluation, in which vendors are compared and scored relative to critical LI capabilities. Some key functions we evaluated were:

  • Location data management of first- and third-party customer engagement and associated information.
  • Spatial visualization and analytics of location data and information.
  • Data products (such as location-based audience data and base maps).
  • Execution and optimization of actions, decisions, and experiences at scale with location intelligence.
  • Delivery of a well-integrated overall platform experience (including how different LI components come together and the balance of functions and user types).

Key findings from the report include:

  • Location intelligence platforms enhance digital intelligence practices. Digital intelligence practices seek to leverage information on customers and their interactions with brands for the purposes of driving optimal decisions, actions, and experiences. Location intelligence platforms help firms do this by embedding location information and spatial analytics techniques into business and customer digital touchpoints.
  • Capabilities for executing on location intelligence differentiate platforms. Ultimately, it is not location data or spatial analytics that delivers the value to the business but the ability to embed them into decision making, actions, and experiences. It is here where differences in vendors’ visions, road maps, and capabilities are most stark. But all vendors have work to do in this area.
  • Vendors offer a variety of ways to leverage location intelligence functionality. The eight firms in our Wave offer vertically and functionally focused location-intelligence-based applications for operations or customer engagement. No matter your industry or business unit, there’s a solution for you. Vendors also provide APIs and software development kits (SDKs) for delivering LI functionality such as geocoding and routing into customer apps and for targeting customers with ads based on their relative location to stores or branches.

To learn more about the scope of this exciting evaluation, check out the full report here.

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