New product and service solutions that combine updates in computing technology and data management are coming to market on an almost daily basis and setting a new standard for user enablement and ease of use.

In one example released today, Nokia’s Location and Commerce division, known for detailed geographic road and physical structure mapping, has productized a strategic collaboration with Esri, a vendor of location based analytic software and a demographic database used for business planning.

The result is sophisticated mapping and database technology combined, a visual demographic engine of high specificity that taps into trends including data visualization, cloud computing, location intelligence, data analytics and in memory processing.

The two Esri products involved in the partnership, Business Analyst and Community Analyst, are used by governments, community planners, retailers and marketers, who select from thousands of current and projected demographics to test or support a business plan.

With the tools, for example, an entrepreneur hoping to open a successful steakhouse in the Phoenix area can dissect the entire region to select the best possible site by mapping regions and neighborhoods for population density, growth rate, family size, disposable income and a propensity to eat out. Marketers can similarly use the tool to target local mail campaigns of locate billboards most effectively.  

Now that demographic data granularity is matched with Navteq Maps, which are derived from a complex, vehicle based information gathering system that travels roadways, records and maps hundreds of data points and precise locations per kilometer, including traffic direction, capacity changes through the day and signage.

Navteq Image courtesy Nokia

Nokia’s location intelligence business derives largely from Navteq, whose maps are also found in the majority of automobile navigation systems.

What drove the partnership is that both products are advanced and nuanced in the data they collect and provide. “The key to Nokia using Navteq is that the Nokia product goes way beyond describing a street,” says Christophe Charpentier, the content product manager at Esri. “What it adds is physical geography, the kinds of vehicles that can go there, the turn restrictions, the average speed and even real time traffic.”

Sophisticated retailers have moved beyond “donut ring” technology to geographically map and describe a terrain, says Roy Kolstad, VP Enterprise America at Nokia Location & Commerce.  “It’s accuracy really, high quality and currency of information on both ends. Alongside all the population data Esri builds from public and proprietary sources, we collect hundreds of attributes, one-way streets, merges, the number of lanes, even a view of the Starbucks across the street.”

 Navteq Image courtesy Nokia

Reliable services and ways to sort and segment minutes versus miles, nighttime versus daytime and old or young populations are likely tools for business planners. So are subsecond response times, cloud, server or desktop delivery, and support for any form factor.

A benefit of combined solutions is that they are pragmatic and purposeful. When delivered to tablets, they force developers to focus on utility rather than the overly comprehensive and hard to find and use features that typified traditional business intelligence platforms.

On the computing side, immediacy greases workflows and there's no waiting while reports run. The maps and demographics can be queried from either dimension as the user prefers; the demographics can generate the map or vice versa. On the client side, the products run wherever there is a browser, including Apple, Android, Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

A new generation of applications like the Esri/Navteq powered Analyst platforms, delivered as products or services, are a modern version of business calculators poineered by Texas Instruments and HP decades ago, but exponentially more.

Like those products they are working tools and especially on tablets an emerging standard for data application development: self-service, domain focused exploration tools backed by multiple technologies that include deep data sets, powerful analytics, useful visualizations and near instantaneous response times that unobtrusively help business users do their jobs.

The news was announced at Esri’s user conference in San Diego.