All Things Location

Preparing for the future of analytics

  • 1.  Preparing for the future of analytics

    Pitney Bowes
    Posted 7 days ago

    It’s an exciting time for me, as our team just rolled-out many significant improvements to our suite of Location Intelligence products. While product managers have shared many of those improvements across the community, I wanted to take a step back and share the ‘big picture’ thinking on how this all fits together.

    Could 2020 be the year when ‘spatial analytics’ just becomes ‘analytics?’ With cheap cloud storage and machine learning proliferating, organizations of all sizes have access to far more data than ever before to make decisions. Virtually all data that we interact with, or seek to analyze, has some form of location component, and as a result the need to blend traditional spatial analytics with other business systems, applications and analytic approaches continues to rise. In fact, it’s what’s driven increases in the use of spatial technology at an annual rate of more than 12% over the last 3 years.  And it is a trend that is not likely to slow down in the near future, particularly with the ubiquity of IOT sensors, mobile devices, commercial satellites and drones.

    That doesn’t mean everyone is looking at maps. While visualization is a critical component, it’s less about points on a map: how things are changing over time, and what is driving better outcomes for organizations. You see this kind of analysis in being applied to far ranging problems like cybersecurity, fraud and risk, as well as to how services can be more effectively delivered. Both the public and private sectors are realizing better outcomes by combining spatial data and operational data, to generate better, more actionable insights.  And this will continue.

    At the highest level, our Location Intelligence business focuses on four sub-markets:

    • GIS
    • Enterprise Location Intelligence
    • Location-based Services
    • Intelligent Infrastructure Management

    Because the majority of organizations are still evolving their strategies for using location data and tools, we’ve focused on creating modular, easy-to-use solutions that quickly generate value for their organization. The picture below illustrates how our major solutions fit together to meet and grow with organizational needs.

    Combining these products into functional and industry-specific solutions is driving new value in telecommunications, insurance, banking, retail, government, and high tech. Clients often start with a specific product to address a specific need but appreciate how they can quickly and easily scale into broader applications. That’s been our focus and continues to be a major priority.

    Focusing on a few of our ‘tent pole’ products, here’s how these capabilities are deployed and how they fit into the larger suite.

     

    MapInfo Pro

    MapInfo Pro is one of our longest running (first released in 1986!), continuously developed products which is used by hundreds of thousands of business users. Given how the market is evolving we’ve made a conscious decision to get closer to our clients, with our team leveraging this community and every opportunity to understand our current and future users more deeply. One of the themes that came from that work was making complex spatial operations easily accessible by non-GIS trained analysts and business users. It was important for us to get back to what made MapInfo Pro special in the first place - ease of use – and redefine what that meant for this mature offering. To that end MapInfo Pro v2019 focused on introducing new spatial query capabilities, value-added tools via the MapInfo Marketplace, delivering heat-mapping in the standard product, and improvements to the MapBasic scripting language and Python support. While pushing forward, we also brought back some prior functionality long-time users craved for some very specific applications. We also continued the trend towards cloud-enablement by providing greater access to our Location Intelligence APIs, further increasing access to spatial data in real time.

     

    Spectrum Spatial

    Our focus with Spectrum Spatial is to deliver high performance and scalable spatial capabilities to any organization regardless of size – to improve how internal teams use data, and how external consumers (think citizens) experience it. Many organizations find it’s the way their users want to consume spatial data because of its flexibility and simplicity, and ability to combine historical and real-time information into one view. To deliver on that promise we focused on improving deployment options and integration support, ease of use and administration, and scalability. That said, we didn’t lose sight of customers requiring access in environments were the internet isn’t available, and delivered a new offering called Spectrum Spatial Connect.

     

    Spectrum Spatial is the way many of our clients will experience the power of spatial insight in new processes and functions. Tighter integration with MapInfo Pro also simplifies the effort to take advantage of these capabilities.

     

    Geocoding

    Given the recognition our geocoding solutions have received, some may think there’s little more to improve. Contrary to that view we continue to invest in improving the precision of geocoding across the globe, particularly in developing countries. In other parts of the world we are improving the utility and ease of use of our products by delivering on the promise of master location data, and the pbKey. Improving the positional accuracy of our output, speeding the process of geocoding at scale (think big data applications and cloud deployments) and evolving deployment options to meet our customers’ needs are ongoing areas of focus.  More on that below.

     

    Spectrum Spatial for Cloud Native

    Regardless of the size of the organization, time to insight is critical for many applications and it’s essential to the convergence of analytic approaches. One of the ways to improve performance is to reduce the gap between the data store and the technology used to process and analyze the data. This led us down the path of deploying our geocoding and Spectrum Spatial capabilities natively within the Big Data and/or Cloud environments where customers often store and process their data. As the first company to natively deploy these capabilities, we continue to build on our domain expertise to enable our customers to more rapidly deliver new insights from within their chosen technology environment.

     

    Location Intelligence APIs (Location-Based Services)

    Quietly a few years ago, we built out an environment to enable the delivery of our geospatial capabilities and some of our most valued location-based data sets through an application programming interface (API). We did this because, increasingly, customers do not want to manage technology infrastructure and install and manage products and data, but ultimately wanted access to the related insight. Each quarter we build and deploy a series of APIs that fit into two broad based categories – foundational and distinctive. The foundational APIs provide the most commonly needed capabilities that most of our customers require (e.g. base map, geocoding, routing, etc.). The distinctive APIs provide unique insight based on our unique data catalog (e.g. Points of Interest, Property Risk information, Tax jurisdiction boundaries, etc.). These services offer many advantages from rapid prototyping to simplifying and speeding deployments, as well as offering client’s flexibility to consume our products on a metered basis.

    Confirm

    Confirm, our proven and scalable intelligent infrastructure management solution, continues its evolution as global authorities begin to define and embrace the promise of Smart Cities.  Management of roads, bridges and structures, parks and open spaces, streetlights and signs, trees and property is a global and pervasive problem, and our worldwide user forums always result in learnings that we turn into product features that move us closer to that reality. Enhancing support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, analytics for managing assets, risk and costs, and improving end user capability continue to be top priorities. Confirm also provides integrated solutions to meet the construction planning requirements of utility companies, telecommunications companies, airport authorities, hospital management companies, highway authorities and private contractors with respect to above or below ground infrastructure, so these new capabilities support those use cases as well. Integrations with MapInfo Pro and other products in the suite are expanding use cases and seamless operations.

    As the worlds of spatial analytics and traditional analytics continue to merge, we’ll continue to focus on bringing these worlds together, allowing customers to consume our capabilities through their preferred tools and platforms. And while these worlds are converging our journey is not nearly finished, and in many ways it is just beginning.

    Thank you for engaging with us and relying on our products, and I encourage you to use this community and the Ideas portal (look for the button on each community homepage to access) to keep us focused on your needs.

    Best Wishes,

    Clarence



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    Clarence Hempfield
    VP, Location Intelligence
    Pitney Bowes
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