Location, location, location. They say it’s the three most important aspects of real estate, but it applies to data analysis and business intelligence (BI) too.

While location isn’t the only factor in better understanding your business, it’s a key factor that’s often left out of traditional BI.

Most business analysis is focused on better understanding sales and financial performance. By adding location as an additional data set, organizations can uncover hidden insights into operational performance. By correlating location with people, places, assets, and events, organizations can learn more about their customers and how their business operates on the street.

Location intelligence, which is also called geospatial analytics, mapping, or map intelligence, adds depth and context to traditional BI that you can’t get in ordinary bar charts, pie charts, and other graphics. By overlaying business data on a map, business analysts can more easily make sense of large data sets, which can help drive better, faster business decisions.

So, if map intelligence is so beneficial, why isn’t everyone using it?

History of Business Intelligence – Turning Data into Pretty Reports

The task of getting meaningful insight from data has been around for decades and has evolved into the business intelligence industry. Paul Hulford, CEO at Attain Insight®, says, “Getting data out of databases or any source and delivered to people as information is a longstanding problem and is the foundation of the business analytics industry. Products like IBM Cognos Analytics make it easy to transform data into information so it’s ready for non-technical people to use in a way that’s meaningful for their business. Business analytics enables organizations to disseminate usable information, not just data, across the business.”

Advancing in parallel with the BI industry is the mapping industry, which focuses on developing geographic intelligence (GIS), a fancy term for map services like Google Maps overlaid with meaningful data but is generally geared towards specific industries such as mining, energy, and the military, and is also heavily used across industries to optimize logistics. A set of products have evolved to support map intelligence, such as Esri ArcGIS.

So, to answer the above question, bridging the BI and GIS worlds isn’t easy. Until recently, the tools to connect map intelligence with business intelligence haven’t been available, haven’t been consistently supported, or haven’t provided the ease of use and deep functionality to be useful to integrate business data with geographic data to get insight into operations.

Hulford says, “Companies have figured out how to rank their projects in terms of cost and productivity, but what they haven’t really optimized particularly well at this point is business operations, which is where maps come into play.”

Attain Insight, a leader in helping organizations maximize their investment in IBM Cognos Analytics, has bridged the gap between BI and GIS with Attain Insight Map Intelligence, which enables non-technical business users to easily add map intelligence into their business analysis by integrating Esri ArcGIS with IBM Cognos Analytics.

By combining business data with map data for analysis, and adding third-party data as well, you can not only learn what’s selling, you can learn where it’s selling, who’s buying it, and make better decisions around how to optimize sales based on this location intelligence.

Or if you have crews in the field, map intelligence enables organizations to optimize activities to deliver more value with the same resources.

And you can disseminate this information across the organization using IBM Cognos Analytics in the same way you would share your business intelligence.

Managing the Explosion of Data

As the volume of data continues to explode, the ability to make sense of it becomes more difficult. Business analysts don’t have time to sift through pages of charts and graphs to find a hidden insight. On the other hand, computers are very good at sifting through vast quantities of data as long as the tools to do it are available.

To help manage the exponential growth of data, organizations have two options: artificial intelligence (AI) or Map Intelligence. While AI can be a good investment, it takes a lot of time and money to get value from it.

Map Intelligence, on the other hand, is immediately available as a visualization tool using your existing data pipelines. While traditional charts and graphs are very useful, they don’t provide the deep context that you can get on a map. When you visualize data on a map, it becomes much faster and easier for people to absorb and understand. Most importantly, it unifies existing geographic data sets with business data to provide a single cohesive and fully interactive view of business information.

For example, let’s say you’re a real estate company interested in information about your assets, including high-rises, low-rises, residential, and commercial buildings. You already have a bar chart showing square footage by building type, but you’d like more detailed information on your commercial buildings.

You can filter the bar chart data to get that information on another chart. But by filtering the same information on a map, you can immediately see not only the total square footage of your commercial buildings, but also the location of each building and commuting distances for each tenant, which can help you get insight into the carbon footprint associated with commuting to each building.

More Insight into Operations

By visualizing data on a map, you can more easily and quickly make sense of large volumes of data in a context you can’t get from traditional charts and graphs. Map data is highly interactive, making data analysis much faster because you can easily and intuitively filter results to drill down into an area of interest.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of visualizing data on a map is the ability to get insight into operations and operational performance. If your product or solution has a demographic sweet spot, map intelligence can lead you there. You can quickly and easily segment data by geography, age, gender, ethnicity, education, and income, as well as travel time, distance, proximity to competitors, or any other factor that helps you better understand your customers.

Thankfully, to get Map Intelligence, you don’t need to add to your IT department’s backlog. Attain Insight Map Intelligence is a completely plug and play solution for IBM Cognos Analytics that requires no programming. You simply connect to the solution and Map Intelligence is immediately available as a visualization object alongside line charts and other graphics.

For more detail on how Attain Insight Map Intelligence can benefit your organization, download our white paper, “Get Deeper Operational Insight with IBM Cognos Analytics and Esri Maps.”