We've already covered the importance of outfitting sales teams with tablets and the benefits of taking mobile business intelligence (BI) to tablets. Now, the emerging technology of mobile location intelligence is bringing geographic mapping to mobile BI, which offers sales people a competitive advantage by giving tablet users a geographic-based view on their customers to help drive sales.
Mobile location intelligence acts upon customer information you already have in place in your CRM system or BI data warehouse, using the location attributes in your existing customer data. Centigon Solutions, developers of GMaps Mobile, is an early stage mobile location intelligence solution, and it points to customer business and shipping addresses as data that can provide actionable information for mobile location intelligence solutions. Another application of location data is the location of products in warehouses or parts depots. Mobile location intelligence can help bring customers and products together quickly to help close the deal before a competitor does.
Harnessing mobile location intelligence for business decisions
The future of tablets in the sales cycle is assured but not without strong applications that contribute to driving sales. I recently got the opportunity to try the GMaps Mobile client app from Centigon Solutions to get an idea of life at the intersection of mobile business intelligence and geographic mapping. The app runs on top of Google Maps and offers connectivity to SAP Business Objects and Google Docs.
Implementing a mobile location intelligence solution such as GMaps Mobile can help sales people determine their current location to drive decisions such as priorities for customer site visits and meetings. In traffic-choked urban areas like Washington, DC or New York City, a sales team can use mobile location intelligence to avoid losing time in transit to visit customers in high traffic areas. Sales management, operations, and the sales people themselves can change geographic views and use geographic proximity for sorting, navigating, and organizing customer information.Implementing GMaps Mobile is done on top of your existing back end BI investment. Figure A is an example of a GMaps Mobile view for a healthcare sales company, showing doctor's offices, private healthcare facilities, and public hospitals. Figure A
A view of GMaps Mobile (as seen in the test drive).For example, let's say I'm a healthcare sales rep, hot on getting my quota for the month. I can tap on one of the customers highlighted on the map and view the details (as shown in Figure B). Figure B
Drill down into customer details based on location (as seen in the test drive).
Bringing together information about the customer on top of their geographic location could be a powerful view into BI data in the hands of the right sales team, because they can see sales territories through new eyes. It can also help set priorities and aid in time management so sales teams are focusing on business with the greatest potential return. The ability to mashup and analyze data with GMaps Mobile can also add a geographic view on the trends, which can create actionable business information that sales teams can use to maximize their efforts to capture new business.
With GMaps Mobile, users can also share layers, views, and bookmarks with other colleagues on the sales team. It also offers a 360-degree look at customer data via the map with charting and grid views.
While I wasn't able to see sharing work in the GMaps Mobile test drive, I can recognize its power and see it finding a home in the right mobile sales culture when some sales calls may require management or subject matter expert involvement in order to close the deal.
Future of location intelligence in business
I recently had a discussion with Ryan Goodman, CEO of Centigon Solutions, about the current state of mobile analytics and the future of this emerging space for mobile users as he sees it. His company is a definite early stage contender in mobile location intelligence and worth a look if you are a SAP Business Objects customer.
He points to an interesting future for location intelligence when companies and their sales forces can tie into the "where in data" with predictive analytics and geo tagging playing future roles. Since anything can be geo tagged, think of the applications of geo tagging when it comes to inventory like high-end equipment or spare parts. A sales team using such a solution would have an edge on controlling inventory vs. customer demand in sales territories (geographic locales).
Take mobile BI to the next level with mobile location intelligence
Considering the rapid adoption of mobile technologies by sales and other field workers, location intelligence is going to become a must have requirement in the next generation of mobile BI and CRM offerings. Does GMaps Mobile have a place in your organization? What solution(s) are you currently using? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at email@example.com.