Friday, April 23, 2010

First Issue, April 23, 2010 - Alex MacKay, CEO DMTI Spatial

Welcome to the DMTI blog on Location Intelligence. Our ambition is to provide a medium of collaborative effort to advocate the usage of Location Intelligence for business improvement as well as share stories of best practises.

In this first post I want to tell you about an event that took place in Toronto yesterday, an Executive Roundtable on Location Intelligence, at the annual DMTI user conference called Expedition 2010. The Founder of DMTI, John Fisher, and I hosted a roundtable for 20 Senior Executives from multiple industries, including Banking, Insurance, Telecommunications, Utilities, Postal and Public Sector.

Jim Carroll, Futurist and Innovation Consultant, kicked off the discussion. Jim consults with the Global 1000 every day and he is seeing Location Intelligence as one the hottest inflection points being discussed. In particular, he is seeing it on the agenda of Finance and Telecommunication companies. And different than 12 months ago when cost savings was the rage, today he hears the C level wanting to take advantage of “location” to drive new revenue. One interesting guiding principle that Jim shared was to “think big, start small, and scale fast.” He believes we have only scratched the surface of what Location Intelligence can offer, however he advises that with all new innovation it’s important to find early wins to gain momentum. In addition, the pace of the change around the use of location for business benefit is moving so fast, we all need to be ready to scale and quickly.

The main topics discussed during the 90 minute Roundtable dialogue included the following, which were considered by this Senior Executive crowd to be the most important in Location Intelligence today:

1. Is Location “mainstream”?

  • It varies based on industry and business function. In insurance for example Jim Carroll advised us that location is on the agenda of the top 25 insurance companies in the world. In many companies the location of key assets has been “mainstream” for some time (utilities) but for other functions, it’s not been utilized. In telecommunications Location Intelligence is making large impacts on marketing and serviceability but there is still a lot more opportunity.
  • The consensus of these 20 executives was that location is rapidly gaining recognition as a key business advantage, but for most industries “we have barely scratched the surface.”

2. Are silos still a big issue?

  • It is more an obstacle in some industries than others but there is agreement it is absolutely still a significant issue. It is the one key issue that seems to drive the need to get the involvement of the very top of the organization on side. In many cases this means the CEO or COO needs to get involved.

3. Where are the quick success hits in location?

  • This was a hot topic for this group. In Finance it would seem “risk” is the number one topic by far. In many other industries the fastest function to find wins is in Marketing. When it comes to building the ROI justification, there are many who feel cost savings is still the best method. However, it was recognized that as the economy fears of last year in the USA recover there is a rapidly growing need from the CEO level to target new revenues.

4. How are we all dealing with “privacy”?

  • We had a really healthy amount of commentary on this item, particularly around personal privacy as it relates to location privacy. For example, is an address part of personal privacy? There was a strong consensus that it was not, however there is a definite recognition that privacy is an important issue and one that needs to be carefully managed and respected. While all organizations seem to see significant marketing opportunities for Location Intelligence, they all are all experiencing the need to be “privacy” smart. In a future post, Kara John, DMTI’s SVP of Privacy and IP will delve into this topic in a lot more detail.

5. Are we underestimating the impact of social media in the “arms race” for location data?

  • With the level of executive in the room, this was a real interesting topic as the average age was senior to the generation that is embracing social media the most. The awareness of the growing power and opportunity of social media and networking is great. Everyone recognized that social media needs to be top of mind for anyone strategizing the use of location for business advantage.

6. What is the impact of the Cloud?

  • There was a lot of comparison to the evolution of ERP with the rapidly growing acceptance of many services in a SaaS or Cloud offering. It was generally also agreed that ERP tried but never really succeeded in providing enough cross company collaboration. It would seem Executives feel that Cloud strategies may represent an opportunity to have information sharing achieved at a much more advanced level that with ERP. Inside certain industries, and Finance was specifically cited, there may be many areas where data about certain geographic properties could be shared for the mutual benefit of the entire industry.

7. How is mobile changing the landscape?

  • In a word, “staggering.” There were a lot of examples that came out in this particular discussion. There is a Bank in South Africa that is totally based on Text messaging. Another interesting example of a new idea is a company named Waze, who give you points for driving roads that have not been driven on its network before. Simply put the new ideas being born every minute for mobile are huge.

In future posts, members of DMTI and invited guests will be talking about the above key topics in much more detail as well as many others involving Location Intelligence. I’m curious to hear what other topics you feel are really important to advance the usage of Location Intelligence for business improvement?

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