The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way we live, work and shop, with many describing our new remote and online way of life as the “new normal”. While it will be some time before we know which changes will be permanent, there’s no doubt that we will never return to doing things in the exact same way as before.
As business continues to resume under the relaxed regulations of Level 3 lockdown, companies across all sectors and industries are looking for ways to regain lost ground and return to profitability. Geospatial data, which really came into its own over the past few months, is fast becoming a focus area, providing new data streams to help businesses navigate the post-Covid world.
Geospatial data can help companies better understand the demographics they are serving, predict market trends – even in an environment as uncertain as it is currently – and optimise delivery. Most importantly, geospatial data will allow them to be far more competitive and adapt to change faster.
As our work and social patterns change, geospatial data can also offer businesses new ways to manage their workforce and rethink their operations. With the right insights, companies can create more people-centric, geosmart workplaces as well as uncover new commercial potential.
Location-based data sets can reveal a lot of real-time information, location intelligence, and geographic trends that can be beneficial for companies. This includes customer information, product information, footfall information, as well as sales target information. This data can help businesses quickly identify and predict future market trends and consumption patterns. Companies can understand if their products are gaining momentum in a particular area and can find ways to build on that to gain more traction. Using geospatial data, companies can design more targeted and personalised marketing strategies and also learn if their customers are changing their interests or buying from their competitors.
In much the same way, location-based data can help companies to position themselves strategically by helping them understand their competition better, and especially what they are currently doing. Visual representation of competitors with geolocation data can help companies to know more about their competitors’ products, marketing strategies, as well as customer footfall, which can provide a competitive edge.
With the changes being wrought by the pandemic, it is challenging for any company, in any industry, to predict business outcomes and evolving customer buying patterns. The pandemic has therefore urged companies to rethink their business operation models with geospatial data in order to remain sustainable in the post-Covid world. Now, more than ever, businesses must take charge of their data to build geosmart operations.
The geosmart workplace
The value of geosmart businesses extends beyond the competitive advantage of understanding customers and competitors. No matter how compelling products or services are, if the organisation’s back-end processes and workforce are not aligned to the needs of the business and the needs of customers, the company will not achieve its goals.
One of the primary challenges when relying on data findings to underpin long-term plans is that no single data source can provide all the information necessary. Whether companies are planning a new strategy or just how to reopen effectively, geospatial data can provide the vital “missing link”.
Geospatial technology can be used to create a multi-dimensional snapshot of the entire business, helping to support key decisions on where to develop vital infrastructure and how to use resources more efficiently. Many businesses favour blanket approaches that overlook regional variation. You see this in one work-from-home policy, one return-to-work policy, and one customer service policy. This supports consistency and makes it easy to deploy, but it lacks nuance.
This is partly because companies are unaware that they have access to the data they need to create a geosmart business, and partly because there is a lack of spatial literacy. Not enough people know how to handle spatial datasets and conduct spatial analysis, and even fewer businesses have the ability to make use of geospatial data to drive decision making.
A geosmart business can bring complex data to life, and connect the dots across all processes and outputs. Geospatial technology has the power to enhance the whole business, helping create a sustainable model even in uncertainty. Incorporating geospatial data throughout the organisation can provide a fresh outlook for business leaders and help streamline operations, not to mention improve performance.
About Fernridge Solutions
Fernridge Solutions is a retail / property optimisation consultancy that was founded in 2002. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Fernridge specialises in spatial analysis using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology, the latest demographic data and client information. Fernridge is a subsidiary of Capital Eye Investments (formerly The UCS Group).
The company conducts ± 15 shopping centre / mixed use development / revamp studies per month conducted in all nine South African provinces, as well as neighbouring countries (such as Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe) and other African countries (Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC). Fernridge offers this service to banks, landlords, property managers, corporate and private investors and developers.
The company also assists some of the leading retail groups in South Africa in their African store expansion and rationalisation strategies, location analyses etc. Clients include, among others: Spar, Woolworths, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Ster Kinekor, Virgin Active, House of Busby, Midas, Clicks, and ADvTEC.