Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whole-Brain Analytics - Location Intelligence

Whole-Brain Analytics is the term we use to describe the value that location intelligence brings to the enterprise. That name has its roots in the multi-disciplinary realm of cognitive science and in the field of cognitive psychology in particular. Your brain is really two brains - two hemispheres -- each with its different way of "looking" at the world. While the left brain is the seat of verbal/analytic capabilities, the right brain is the seat of your visual/relational capabilities. (See lateralization of brain function.)

How do we know this to be true? Here's a little test that will help you "see."

Follow the instructions in the image:

location intelligence


This simple brain twister demonstrates your two hemispheres at work. They don't process information in a completely synchronized way. The test points to the natural conflict between the ways your right and left hemispheres perceive and process information about the world.

A good business intelligence solution, like a good teacher, uses multiple means and media to communicate information. Location intelligence connects the tabular, logical world of business intelligence reporting to the advanced visualization capabilities of geographic information systems to improve the understanding and communication of vital information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Location Intelligence and "Speed to Insight"

Earlier, I wrote about location intelligence and the "Eureka moment" when the two hemispheres of the brain work together to provide a flash of insight. To make the vision of enterprise location intelligence a practical reality, it will require that two types of information practitioners come together as well.

Why should BI practitioners embrace geospatial platforms? Why should GIS practitioners embrace business intelligence platforms? How does location intelligence benefit both GIS and BI practitioners while contributing to the enterprise?

Enterprise GIS

Some GIS purists may believe that this integration with BI dilutes the true value of GIS, because BI users will only take advantage of a small sub-set of GIS's capabilities. While this may be true in the short run, GIS enthusiasts need to think about the big picture.

By taking GIS to the mainstream of enterprise solutions, location intelligence makes GIS far more pervasive throughout the enterprise. Because more of the enterprise will be exposed to GIS, more people will find more uses (with higher levels of complexity) for GIS, and the demand for the skills of GIS practitioners will grow accordingly.

To make this happen, GIS enthusiasts need to leverage BI's enterprise-ready architecture and infrastructure, and its presence within all enterprise decision-making processes.

Geospatial BI

A recent Aberdeen Group study cited three factors driving the need for more efficient, more agile business intelligence solutions:
  • Growing volume of source data / number of sources
  • Time window for decisions increasingly compressed
  • Increasing or changing demand for management information
As workers who have toiled in the field of business intelligence for many years, we at APOS have substantial anecdotal evidence to support the Aberdeen Group's statistical conclusions. These are indeed the challenges facing BI practitioners today.

From our experience, we have also come to the conclusion that location intelligence is a large part of the answer to these challenges. Location intelligence will help information consumers make better sense of diverse data sources, and be able to reach informed decisions more quickly and with greater confidence.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

APOS COO Allan Pym Interviewed by SmartBrief

SmartBrief's Jesse Stanchak interviewing APOS Chief Operating Officer Allan Pym at the 2011 Esri Business Summit on the relationship between business intelligence and location intelligence:

Posted by Tom Woodhead at 8:00 am.
View APOS System's LinkedIn Company PageFollow APOS Systems on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From Capex to Opex: Clouding the Issue of Location Intelligence

Joe Francica of Directions Magazine recently published an article discussing Cloud-based GIS deployments. In the article, Joe was critical of TCO justifications for deploying geospatial solutions in the Cloud. I have to say that I am completely in agreement: cost savings are the last thing to consider in planning enterprise location intelligence solutions, but not necessarily (or primarily) for the same reasons that Joe indicates.

I agree that the focus on cost-savings is counter-productive. In general, cost-savings become a factor in any market where the item for sale has become a commodity. This is simply not the case in the location intelligence market.

There's an old saying in IT: No one was ever fired for buying a Cisco router. What this means, in less cryptic terms, is that you focus on cost savings at your peril. For what does it profit a company to achieve low total cost of ownership (TCO) if it doesn't realize the full return on investment (ROI) for the solution?

I think Joe is right in saying that the majority of GIS vendors are less ready to adopt the Cloud paradigm than are their potential customers. Moving location intelligence from the capital expenditures budget (capex) to the operational expenses budget (opex) is attractive to organizations adopting solutions for a number of reasons:

  1. Because a Cloud-based solution qualifies as an operational expense, and because the annual costs of licensing a Cloud-based solution are generally low enough to reduce the number and range of people involved in decision making, it is easier to make the decision, close the deal, and deploy location intelligence on a compact timeline.
  2. A Cloud-based solution lessens or eliminates the role of IT in choosing and implementing solutions, again making it easier to adopt a solution and start realizing its value quickly.
  3. As location intelligence moves to the mainstream of enterprise solutions, the need for GIS expertise grows accordingly. Finding the human resources to meet enterprise-level needs becomes a major challenge. The Cloud limits exposure to this challenge during the early days of deployment.
  4. Cloud-based deployments make sense for companies that need to perform proof of concept, which is most companies, because the technology appears disruptive and revolutionary to them.

At APOS, we have come to recognize the necessity of this transitional, proof-of-concept approach to location intelligence.

Deployment strategies for location intelligence cannot be binary: it's not a question of all or nothing. Companies won't understand the need for, and power of, geospatially-enabled workflows until they see them for themselves. Thus, an iterative approach is frequently required. There are many hybrid stops along the way from fully Cloud- to fully network-based models.

The challenge for vendors is to provide a clear migration path from Cloud-based, silo-oriented deployments of location intelligence to network-based, enterprise-wide deployments. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. It helps to think of solution deployment not as an event, but as a path that takes into account the company's need to scale and extend the solution over time.