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As more and more enterprises strive to become customer-centric on a granular level, the focus on data, particularly data on location information, is increasing. Companies such as Uber and DoorDash already use location to provide a seamless service experience to their customers across major markets. However, at the backend, there is much more to location data than just a way to determine where a cab or food order has to go.
For instance, geospatial technology and data can enable companies to understand consumer behavior, connect with their target audiences and measure foot traffic and advertising success, among other things. They can also leverage the data to take a wide range of business decisions, starting from where to set up the next physical outlet to which route would be most efficient for package transport.
By 2026, the global location analytics market is expected to become a $30 billion opportunity – nearly double of what it is today.
A significant portion of this pie is expected to go to Foursquare, a company that provides a wide range of geospatial technology and data solutions for analysts, marketers and developers and serves as the gold standard location partner for leading tech giants and brands, including Spotify, Coca-Cola, and Snapchat.
“If you look at what’s happened over the last two or three years, with the rise of cloud architecture, edge computing and cloud data solutions combined with pandemic-driven digital investments, every company now is thinking more and more about understanding the bridges between the physical location of their customer and the digital experience. We sit kind of in the center of that…,” Gary Little, president and CEO of Foursquare, said during a panel at Venturebeat’s Data Summit.
Foursquare solutions deployed across sectors
The CEO emphasized that enterprises across sectors are using their core data solutions for a variety of use cases. Big retail players such as Yum Brands are not only using the solutions to determine which site would be ideal to set up shop, but also to optimize existing sites (by looking at store footfall, among other things) and gain an advantage in today’s competitive landscape. In real estate, he said, Redfin used their point of interest dataset (covering upwards of 100 million venues across 190 countries) to create a customized ability to help its customers view what’s present in the neighborhood they are looking to move into.
Similarly, shipping and energy companies are leveraging Foursquare’s data solutions for use cases such as determining the location of distribution facilities and planning advertising strategies.
“When you think about who uses our services and who’s benefiting from it, I could make a pretty convincing argument that every business, as we go forward, has some level of location demand as part of it,” Little said.
Clean room architecture for privacy
Though data privacy regulations can create challenges for location analytics in certain, if not all, markets, Little went on to note that Foursquare is in full support of regimes introducing privacy regulations.
He said the company is embracing measures to ensure results for enterprises in a privacy-compliant way. As part of this, it provides customers an option to opt into data sharing and is exploring possibilities with data platforms’ clean-room architecture that can help companies leverage their own as well as third-party location data for analytics in a privacy-compliant manner.
“Being able to join that in a universe where a customer doesn’t have to actually send us sensitive data to create a compelling product or increase the data value that they have…is a really compelling opportunity that we see. We’re investing a tremendous amount in the ability to take our software and power that inside of owned instances on the cloud for our customers because the value of location data has never been greater,” Little said.
To this end, Foursquare has already released a product called Hex Tiles. It is a tiling system that gives data scientists the ability to unify diverse datasets about customers with location information in a cleanroom environment and conduct analytics.
“The old model was to join a bunch of data inside our walls and ship a product back to customers. Hex Tiles, on the other hand, uses a common join technology, combining data in a very seamless way in a controlled environment so that a customer can build an experience based on location using both their data and ours while neither one of us actually has to have aperture into that data set,” Little explained.
As more such privacy-focused technologies come to the fore, he expects that many companies who did not consider investing in location before will do so, taking the entire industry leaps ahead.