Monday, March 21, 2011

Location Intelligence - What's the Catch? - Barriers to Adoption

Location intelligence adoption may seem like an easy decision, especially for companies that are already using one or more of the component technologies, business intelligence (BI) systems and geographic information systems (GIS). What could be stopping companies from integrating these systems and realizing the combined benefits across the enterprise?

No BI vendor would advise their customers to neglect due diligence in considering such integration, and when those customers examine pros and cons, here are some of the barriers to adoption that arise:

Perceived Complexity
The novelty of location intelligence hides the fact that it is created through the integration of two mature technologies with experienced users. To enterprise BI users who are unfamiliar with the product of this integration, it seems as though location intelligence is adding a layer of complexity to something that is already complex enough. To GIS users, who tend to be planners isolated within organizational silos, it seems as though location intelligence is putting them in an informational straight jacket. BI users need to be convinced that the learning curve is justified by the "speed to insight" provided by location intelligence. GIS users need to see the benefits of operating according to the same informational playbook used by the rest of the enterprise.

Actual complexity
BI platform managers and power users may see risk in the integration of two technologies that continue to develop. If BI and GIS conceptualize and analyze data in entirely different manners, then what are the appropriate integration points? How does analysis step through the data? The fact is that integration for location intelligence is not a one-time event, but an ongoing solution development issue that needs to take progress in both GIS and BI into account.

GIS expertise tends to reside within organizational silos, and expanding that expertise to the enterprise level may seem a daunting task. Initial consulting and third-party contractors may be required. Another option is to look at a hosted option such as the APOS Location Intelligence Solution: Cloud Edition, which can host all or part of the location intelligence solution and reduce or remove the need for internal GIS and/or BI resources.

Organizations must determine the ROI of location intelligence against their capital and operational budgets. If upper management is not completely convinced of the benefits of location intelligence, and thus not completely  committed to its implementation across the enterprise, it may be hard to get a line item in the budget. Proof of concept may be required. If so, a partially or fully hosted solution may be the answer, provided there is a clear migration path to an enterprise implementation.

All of these barriers to adoption point to the importance of finding a location intelligence integrator with a deep understanding of both BI and GIS, and an ongoing commitment to the development and maintenance of an enterprise location intelligence integration solution.

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