Data and AI

Top Stories of 2023: Key Takeaways and Trends

By Chris Chiappinelli

Business risks factored prominently in WhereNext\'s top 10 articles of 2023

The Esri Brief

Trending insights from WhereNext and other leading publications

The year just closed wasn’t entirely consumed by the economy, geopolitics, and natural disasters.

Although business executives monitored these forces closely, they left room for innovation and inspiration. They turned new applications of technology into valuable trends, wrestled with the trajectory of AI, and grew savvier about tackling the business risks and opportunities in front of them.

Most of all, they tried to see into the future.

That’s the readout from an analysis of WhereNext’s most popular content of 2023—and a foreshadowing of themes that will capture business leaders’ attention in 2024.

Using AI to Anticipate and Minimize Business Risks

Among the trends shaping corporate strategy and the global economy, WhereNext readers took a particular interest in sustainability, efficiency, AI, and risk.

In the year’s most popular piece of content—a webcast on the business trend of spatial thinking, speakers from Amazon, FedEx, and Marriott shared insight on how they’ve created location-savvy growth strategies, uncovered efficiencies that lower the cost of daily operations, and used maps to bring climate risk into sharp relief—not just today, but decades from now.

The desire to see business risks before they emerge was a common theme in 2023. It factored prominently in the year’s second-most popular article, “NextTech: Predicting Storm Impacts with Location Analytics, AI.” The article demonstrates—via a short video—how AI in modern geographic information systems (GIS) technology simulates weather impacts on a business location, giving executives time to plan a defense. (Explore other installments of the video-based NextTech series.)

The challenge of climate change and its risks to business drew readers to the fifth- and eighth-most popular WhereNext articles of 2023.

Bouwinvest, a Dutch investment firm, uses GIS analysis to push beyond standard forecasts and carefully examine possible investment properties. GIS maps reveal a simple yet textured view of risks like waterlogging and extreme heat, helping investment managers predict not only next year’s risks but the next decade’s business opportunities.

Similarly, the eighth-most popular WhereNext article of 2023 highlighted AT&T’s effort to model climate scenarios and spot business risks decades in advance. Initially published in 2020, the story continues to attract attention from business execs eager to get ahead of challenges through location intelligence.

Anticipating with AI

Prediction and AI formed the backbone of a story that captivated readers in early 2022 and landed at number 3 in 2023: “Think Tank: GeoAI Reveals a Glimpse of the Future.” This clear-eyed Q&A explains how AI helps businesses predict revenue, anticipate when to perform maintenance on service vehicles and key assets, and where to expand a promising business.

Cisco commanded the fourth spot on the top 10 list with an innovative approach to the service supply chain. By using GIS to map over 1,300 warehouses across more than 130 countries, the IT standout provides reliable service to millions of customers when business continuity is on the line.

The technology powering Cisco’s work—a location-aware digital twin—also underpinned the simulations in the storm-focused NextTech. And digital twins starred in the year’s ninth-most popular WhereNext article, which examined how indoor location intelligence is changing our shopping experience.

A Spatial View

The margin of error for today’s business executive is perilously thin. Each quarter, they set growth expectations for demanding investors, then turn to face a tempest of unknowns—supply chain snarls, labor cost upswings, floods, storms, and more.

It’s no wonder those leaders are searching for a spatial understanding of the business—a birds-eye view of operational risks, growth paths, and better customer outcomes. As the WhereNext features on Amazon, AT&T, Cisco, FedEx, JLL, Marriott, and others show, some of the world’s most successful companies are already navigating with that view.

In 2024, we’ll share more stories of innovation and advantage from the business world. In the meantime, let us know what you’re focused on this year.

The top WhereNext stories of 2023:

  1. Exploring the Business Trend of Spatial Thinking, with Amazon, FedEx, Marriott [watch webcast]
  2. NextTech: Predicting Storm Impacts with Location Analytics, AI [read article]
  3. Think Tank: GeoAI Reveals a Glimpse of the Future [read article]
  4. How Cisco Created a GIS-Based Digital Twin of Its Service Supply [read article]
  5. Bringing Climate Risk Assessments In-House with GIS [read article]
  6. The Enterprise Technology behind Big Business Decisions [read article]
  7. What Is Spatial Finance, and How to Prepare for It [read article]
  8. AT&T Taps Advanced Analytics to Map Decades of Climate Risk [read article]
  9. Retail Digital Twins and the Store of the Future [read article]
  10. JLL Delivers Location Intelligence to Thousands of Employees [read article]


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