Magazine article CRM Magazine

Locating Intelligence: By Knowing the "Where" in Anywhere, Business Intelligence Just Got a Whole Lot Smarter

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Locating Intelligence: By Knowing the "Where" in Anywhere, Business Intelligence Just Got a Whole Lot Smarter

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

When Don Campbell wanted to measure the exact length of garden hose he needed for his yard, he didn't count how many steps it took to cover the distance. He didn't use a piece of string and measure it section by section against a ruler. He didn't even use his five-meter-long retractable measuring tape. What the chief technology officer of Cognos, an IBM company specializing in business intelligence, did use was the simple point-to-point measuring tool on Google Earth.

With the relatively recent advent of technology such as Google Earth and Google Maps, consumers have (free!) access to incredible geospatial information. Moreover, many of today's mainstream consumer electronics are equipped with location-based technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) or the global positioning system (GPS). In addition, an individual's location can be estimated based on cellular triangulation by measuring distance and signal strength between cell towers. "All these things are coinciding," Campbell says. The disconnect, however, occurs once you step in the office: "I come into the business world and I'm frustrated with the fact that I don't have the same kind of tools for a business need," he says.

To address this growing demand, location intelligence solutions provider Pitney Bowes MapInfo, which was acquired by mail and messaging solutions provider Pitney Bowes in March 2007, announced the integration of its Location Intelligence Component (LIC) for the IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence platform this past June. Previously, the two vendors supported a partnership that allowed customers to utilize both solutions, but the process was inefficient and cumbersome. End users would have to jump from Cognos, then perform geospatial rendering on MapInfo, then go back to Cognos. "The workflow was severely impacted," Campbell says. "The connection between the tools wasn't there."

After seeing users flip and flop, integration only made sense. "Instead of telling our customers, 'Here's the tool, go use it,' we thought, 'Why are we telling people to do it themselves? We're the experts at it,'" says Jon Winslow, director of business development at Pitney Bowes MapInfo. According to Winslow, the integration of geospatial intelligence and BI was inevitable. "Once you can tie your data to some place on Earth, you can really start to understand the context around it," he says. The LIC provides what Winslow calls a "bidirectional functionality," enabling users to take a report, put it on a map, select the most relevant items on a map, and filter it through Cognos--seamlessly. …

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