While brand marketers have increasingly been using location data as part of their targeting and attribution toolset, business intelligence platforms are just waking up to its importance. As a baby step in that direction, IBM announced yesterday that it would be incorporating global geospatial and political boundary data from Pitney Bowes into its Cognos Analytics and Watson platforms.
IBM says the partnership will help “businesses unearth deeper connections between their customers, their geography, and their networks to deliver more personalized services and contextually relevant experiences.” However, those capabilities are not yet available at launch.
Joe Francica, who is the director of Geospatial Industry Solutions at Pitney Bowes, says the provision of boundary data is just the first step of the partnership and that over time he sees a “much deeper role” for location data in business intelligence.
“We expect IBM to offer much more advanced and tactical uses of location,” he told me. However, IBM’s adoption of location data is a milestone of sorts. What’s significant here, according to Francica, is that “This is a major IT company blessing location; it represents the maturing of data science and analytics.” Indeed, it may soon represent a kind of “BI malpractice” to ignore location because of its critical and varied use cases.
Many people are unaware that Pitney Bowes is a location data provider or that the company is supplying location data to a host of companies, including Salesforce and Zillow.
Through the partnership with Pitney Bowes, IBM is seeking to make “geospatial analytics” more readily available and accessible to business decision-makers. Near-term applications of the data, according to Pitney Bowes, include:
- financial services companies selecting optimal branch sites, re-evaluating underperforming branches and improving customer service by installing ATM locators; and
- telecommunication companies creating easily digestible maps to communicate with customers more efficiently and provide real-time updates.
These scenarios are very basic, however, and are really just the beginning.