Guest Post by Jim Breitenfeld, President, Sidecar Commercial Real Estate, LLC

Geographic Information Systems (GIS and the associated location intelligence that can be derived) are not only predicting the future, but they are also actively shaping the present. Whether by helping reimagine crime prevention and health care, revolutionizing marketing, or fueling the gig economy, this multifaceted tech is quickly becoming ubiquitous in modern cities and companies.

When applied on such a grand scale, it doesn’t take long to see how information that used to be siloed for a specific application can be utilized for systemic advancement. Take for instance a smart stoplight that tracks traffic patterns. This data can be used to adjust the timing of the light, to see whether lights or stop signs on adjourning streets are helping or hurting congestion, and to determine if building a roundabout is a safe solution.

Now let’s take it a step further. What could that same traffic data and related location information tell us about a potential corporate office or industrial distribution location in the area? What could comparing foot traffic to vehicle traffic tell us about why people are in the area and the kind of services or products they might be looking for?

This spatial information – traffic patterns, population demographics, local geography, and real estate – is the foundation of location analytics. If you’re not familiar with location analytics yet, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful tools for evaluating and informing your business decisions. More than 70% of business executives are already using this intelligence, with most of them actively finding new market opportunities.

Location analytics solutions are rocket fuel, boosting predictable growth, and optimizing real estate acquisition. They are the wave of progress that will carry savvy companies into the future.

But by itself, this abundance of data is just data. How do you translate that into useful and actionable information? How does that then translate into a better experience for your customers?

In the realm of real estate, this information can directly impact where you locate operations and inform how you use the space you have. Just like the data from the smart traffic light can help develop an intersection, similar data can help optimize your current operations. And this translates across all departments and functions. It can improve comparative location analysis and site selection, streamline supply chains, enhance location aesthetics, and even find the best places to install signage.

As powerful as this data is, its capabilities expand exponentially when applied both now and projected into the future. Imagine laying out a business plan based on where the data predicts infrastructure development and demographic trends will be in the future. Equipped with this information, you could find the optimal location for both your customers and for your future employees. Finding areas to open new sites would become much more strategic, acquisitions would become assets instead of budget-line items, and each individual location could anticipate and adapt to the nuances of their unique communities.

Ultimately, location analytics and intelligence provide an invaluable advantage when creating the best possible experience for your customers and employees.

Jim Breitenfeld is President of Sidecar Commercial Real Estate, LLC