By Mallory Delgadillo and Scott Sandusky
5 Things Missing from Your Analysis
If you follow top analyst firms or media outlets, you’re no stranger to the terms location intelligence and location analytics. Perhaps you’re already visualizing and analyzing the “where” of your data on a map. But are you actually getting the insights you’re after? Are you analyzing location data at the level of granularity needed to truly call your analysis complete?
Let’s look at five things you might be missing that will take your analysis to the next level.
1. Detailed basemaps
Most Analytics & BI platforms are great for visualizing points on a map. But, if you’re an analyst, these points only lead to more questions. To answer these deeper questions and get to real insights, your need the proper tools.
Don’t settle – do more with a map. Esri, the global leader and pioneer in using maps for rich analysis for 50 years, offers visualization and analysis capabilities within its self-service location analytics product, ArcGIS Insights. Easily prepare data and go far beyond simple points on a map.
From a visualization standpoint, Esri offers 50 plus out-of-the-box vector maps. They are commonly made up of basemaps: data layers that give you visual context of the area you’re analyzing, such as the topography, imagery, streets, and terrain. Not only do vector maps give you rapid scalability and rendering when you zoom and navigate a map, but Esri offers a variety of localized and stylized vector maps that help you communicate your story, your way.
In addition to vector maps, Esri’s ArcGIS Insights gives you analysis capabilities unlike any other analytical platform on the market today, especially from a spatial standpoint. For example, on-the-fly link analysis, also known as graph analytics, can be performed on a map or a chart to uncover relationships between people, places, and events. Link maps connect the dots for you, but they also model relationships and connectivity, revealing the strength of those relationships.
2. Multiple projections
With solutions like ArcGIS Insights, Esri makes it easy to work with any map projection (any 2D map of the Earth). Why do projections matter? It’s all about accuracy. If you use the wrong projection, your analysis can also be wrong. Envision peeling an orange. Now, try to flatten it without ripping it. Difficult, right? This is why not one map projection fits all analyses. A rule of thumb, see what map projection your data is in so you can properly analyze it. Let’s look at an example.
Say we’re calculating the shortest route for a contracted truck driver travelling from Portland, OR to Gresham, OR. Contracted drivers are paid by the distance covered, so our analysis results need to be accurate to ensure that the company doesn’t pay more than it should. Compare the calculated distance when using two different projections: Web Mercator (what most Analytics and BI platforms use) and State Plane Oregon North and UTM Zone (projections most appropriate for northwest Oregon). If the analysis is done using Web Mercator, it results in the company paying for about 8,100 more meters. This is a huge discrepancy, especially if the same route is traveled daily.
Because projections matter, ArcGIS Insights supports over 6,400 coordinate reference systems. To help you take the guess work out of map projections, Insights intelligently handles most of this behind the scenes. That way, regardless of your data’s map projection, you can trust that Insights will give you accurate results.
3. Formatted data
Almost all modern businesses today collect location information from their customers – whether it’s an address, GPS coordinates, city, state or zip code. According to Forrester Analyst, James McCormick, “Customers digitally [connect] to brands via PCs, then mobile devices, and now via a continuous tidal wave of emerging owned IoT devices (e.g., wearables, connected cars, etc.) and non-owned IoT devices (e.g., video, in-store tracking, etc.). Location is now critical to understanding the context of customer engagement in our rapidly digitizing physical world.”
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, customers expect personalized experiences that anticipate their needs (think Amazon and Google). Data analytics, including location analytics, is the foundation of these amazing customer experiences.
Like most data, location data must be prepped for analysis. Perhaps you have different variations of a state’s spelling (CA, Cali, California, etc.) and you need to make it consistent. Or you need to join data of various formats and sources – say you want to analyze business revenue data along with weather, crime, development, and other factors. Unfortunately, most modern Analytics & BI platforms today can’t do this. Data can’t be visualized in a dashboard or report until it’s been heavily prepped and analyzed. Why not work with a solution that can do it all?
4. Demographic variables
Once your data is location-enabled, you can enrich that data with Census data or demographic, psychographic, environmental, and economic variables that comes with Insights. Easily combine over 8,000 US variables and hundreds of international variables to your data, then use that for further analysis. Updated regularly, Esri Demographics datasets are of high value with strong lineage, accuracy, and completeness, and they are all included with Insights.
About the Authors
Esri senior product marketing manager with a passion for analytics, data science, digital marketing, and customer experiences.
Esri product manager, working to make location analytics accessible to everyone.
5. Spatial insights
You may have heard the term geocoding, which describes the process of taking your data and adding a spatial component, allowing you to map it. Geocoding doesn’t mean that you need XY coordinates. You can geocode an address, street, city, state, or custom boundaries – pretty much anything with location information. Insights make this a simple 3-step process. We also offer reference layers: maps that contain boundaries that scale from country and state, all the way down to census tract or block group. These layers allow you to get granular with your analysis.
Say you’re trying to understand the sales of consumer packaged goods in the United States. Consumer behaviors differ greatly from state to state, more so from city to city, and even the lowest level of granularity, from block group to block group. The more you are able to scale in, the more accurate your analysis will be.
We hope we inspired you to think more about what you’re getting from your maps. It really isn’t about what you see on a map, it’s about what you can do with the map that gives you real insight. We invite all analysts to join the thousands of organizations benefiting from the value of self-service location analytics with ArcGIS Insights.
Ready to learn more?
Leverage your organization's existing GIS investment and easily add a license for Insights. Reach out to a member of our team to learn how.