How To Create a Location Data Strategy

When I explained why you need an address master data management strategy, I explored how organisations could gain control of the address data they held. There are many reasons why you would want to do this. Better addresses streamline operations, reduce errors and even lead to new business opportunities. In this article I explain how organisations can use location data to go further by creating a location data strategy.

Do I need to worry about location?

Chances are, your business activities have a physical footprint in the real world. Sometimes this is obvious. A delivery company needs to find an address to deliver goods; a mortgage lender wants to value the property found there; a utility company needs to deliver underground services; an insurer wants to know the risks surrounding it. 

For others it may seem harder to relate their business activity to location, but think laterally. For instance, an online-only fashion retailer looking to grow sales might not think that location matters if it sells only via the internet. However, its online customers live somewhere and their location (and their proximity to competitors with physical stores) may well influence their behaviour and spending patterns. Analysing this may provide insights that help the online retailer to devise better targeted marketing campaigns.

Where to Start?

Start by documenting your user stories. Then try expressing how location data can solve these. Take the example of a home-delivery company. The user story might be:

As a logistics manager, I need to understand how long it takes a van and driver to find and deliver to each address on a route so that we can increase on-time deliveries.”

Expressed as a location data challenge, it might look like this:

Challenge:Location Data Needed:
Identify the exact location of each addressAccurate geocoded addresses
Find most efficient route between addressesRoutable road and path network
Find best place to park the vanParking potential, on-road parking restrictions
Calculate the time to drop-off parcelDistance from roadside to property entrance, type of property

Conduct a location data inventory

Chances are, your organisation already collects location data. However, many organisations do not take good care of their location data assets, let alone exploit them. Find and assess each of your data stores. If your location data is well managed, ask whether it can be used for other purposes. For example, a bank that lends money against a house will obtain a lot of information about the house during the mortgage application process. If this data is retained, well managed and made accessible to other departments, it could be used to issue a competitive home insurance quotation to the new owner. Download our FREE (PDF) checklist to help you create your location data strategy.

Source new data to evaluate

Next you need to search for and evaluate external location datasets against your objectives and constraints. With so much data available, it is easy to go awry here. I would recommend this as the right time to engage with data experts outside your organisation. Mapcite has many years-worth of experience in location data consulting. This includes sourcing and supplying open and licensed data  from Ordnance Survey, TomTom, PSMA Australia and Pitney Bowes amongst others.

Assess each dataset against your objectives and the constraints you identified earlier. Once you have a shortlist, evaluate the data by creating a prototype to test if it solves the business challenge. Again you may need to get help with this if your organisation’s skills are not sufficient and Mapcite can advise and assist.

Finally, go build it!

With a little thought and care, creating a location data strategy can be straightforward and will elevate your use of data beyond the ordinary. All you need to do now is go and build out your strategy. I’ll save that for another blog!

About the author: Richard is Head of Consulting at Mapcite. He advises organisations on using location data to improve their performance and outcomes.