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How Absolute Protects Patient Data At Apria Healthcare

How Absolute Protects Patient Data At Apria Healthcare

Bottom Line: Healthcare providers need to adopt more persistent, resilient endpoint cybersecurity to thwart cybercriminals who are escalating their efforts to steal healthcare records. Motivated by up to $1,000 being offered on the Dark Web for healthcare records, cybercriminals are prioritizing healthcare breaches for financial gain.

Endpoint Resilience Is the Cornerstone of Apria Healthcare’s Cybersecurity Strategy

Healthcare providers are a favorite target for cybercriminals, and their popularity is growing. In the first eight weeks of 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services received 66 reports of breaches affecting 500 patient records or more at healthcare providers and health plans. The Health & Human Services Breach Portal, which contains a list of all cases under investigation today, reflects the severity of healthcare providers’ cybersecurity crisis and the urgent need for a strong, resilient system to protect patient information. Apria Healthcare is well aware of these threats and has taken an innovative, insightful approach to thwart them.

Apria Healthcare’s cybersecurity strategy focuses heavily on deterrence at the endpoint and device level, an approach that has proven effective in mitigating breaches globally. The company is a recognized leader in healthcare, serving nearly 2M patients annually across 300 locations in 49 states. They have more than 8,000 laptops, desktops and tablets, many of which regularly leave the organization. Apria needed a way to deliver zero-touch IT asset management, provide self-healing endpoint security, and employ always-on data visibility and protection whether an asset was on or off their corporate network. They turned to Absolute and the company’s patented Persistence technology.

“Persistence [located] in the BIOS is the number one item that I think really sets Absolute apart from other companies touting that they can do asset tracking better,” said Janet Hunt, Senior Director, IT User Support at Apria Healthcare. “The other vendors really can’t, they don’t have that piece – that persistent piece is so important to me. I always am looking for opportunities to use different technologies as they come up, and I haven’t found anything that’s as good as Absolute. Nothing can compare.”

Absolute’s Persistence technology, the foundation of the company’s Resilience solution, enables a self-healing, unbreakable two-way connection to endpoints, applications, and data. It provides an adaptive layer of defense by notifying IT of where devices are and when security applications are removed or corrupt, and triggering automatic reinstallation. Because Absolute is already embedded in the BIOS of Dell, HP, Lenovo, and 22 other leading manufacturers’ devices, it provides Apria with the single source of truth needed to protect personal data and help achieve HIPAA compliance.

Turning HIPAA Compliance into A Competitive Advantage  

Apria quickly established a leadership position in the healthcare industry by setting and maintaining stringent requirements needed to achieve HIPAA compliance across its patient data platform. Leveraging Absolute’s Resilience solution and Persistence technology, Apria differentiated itself from its competitors and reduced the risk they would ever see fines for HIPAA non-compliance. And with HIPAA fines ranging from $25,000 to $15.M per year, Apria’s prescient decision to turn compliance into a competitive advantage was an excellent one because it put patients’ welfare and data security first, above all other IT priorities.

Achieving Greater Device Control & Visibility Is Key 

Absolute’s dashboard provides Apria with both a snapshot of the status of all devices, updated every 15 minutes, as well as a complete device history that enables security managers to see and report on encryption, geolocation, and usage.

“Our geo-fencing is extremely tight. I have PCs that live in the Philippines. I have PCs that live in India. I have one, or actually two, PCs that live in Indonesia. If somebody goes from where they say that they’re going to be to another part of Indonesia, that device will freeze because that’s not where it’s supposed to be, and that’s an automatic thing. Don’t ask forgiveness, don’t ask questions, freeze the device, and see what happens. It’s one of the best things we’ve done for ourselves,” Janet Hunt recently said during a recent during a recent panel discussion. Geofencing is a must-have in any persistent endpoint security strategy.

“[With Absolute] I have a complete history of each device, which makes it really easy for me to say not only whether it is encrypted now, but also what its status was a week ago, or two weeks ago, or two months ago,” said Dave Ochoa, Manager, Information Security Operations at Apria Healthcare. “So, you get this lovely little package that you can hand off to your auditor and say, ‘Not an issue.’ You know that this is not an incident, this is not a breach.”

Endpoint Security’s Network Effect Is Accelerating

Apria Healthcare’s decision to protect its 8,000 laptops, desktops, and tablets using Absolute’s Resilience endpoint solution is a leading indicator of the Network Effect happening with endpoint security today. A sure sign the Network Effect is taking place is how demand is growing for more endpoint security agents and applications. Absolute is seeing this Network Effect globally and has been steadily adding integrations with more than 30 endpoint security agents and applications – most recently adding support for the market-leading security solution VMware® Carbon Black.

“The average enterprise today has already spent thousands, if not millions, of dollars on security controls and applications, and that total security investment only continues to rise in the face of escalating risk,” said Christy Wyatt, CEO of Absolute. “However, the vast number of controls and agents being invested in and subsequently piled onto the endpoint can introduce a false sense of security; those controls are only effective if they are present and actually running. A foundation of Resilience enables IT and security teams to understand the current state of their assets, understand if the security controls have been compromised, and heal those that have been taken offline.”

Conclusion

In the face of increasingly sophisticated attackers and vectors, organizations continue to layer on security controls. Gartner estimates that more than $174B will be spent on security by 2022, and of that, approximately $50B will be dedicated to protecting the endpoint. Absolute’s 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report revealed that organizations have an average of 10 distinct agents layered onto endpoint devices, all competing with one another for device services and resources. The resulting complexity not only negatively impacts endpoint performance but creates an environment ripe for collision and decay. This, along with humans tampering with or removing security controls, means that even the most well-functioning endpoint agents have a high probability of failure.

All of this has IT and security administrators grappling with increasing complexity and risk levels, while also facing mounting pressure to ensure endpoint controls maintain integrity, availability, and functionality at all times, and deliver their intended value. And so, organizations need complete visibility and real-time insights to pinpoint the dark endpoints, identify what’s broken and where gaps exist, as well as respond and take action quickly.

Absolute’s Resilience offering empowers organizations to build an enterprise security approach that is intelligent, adaptive, and self-healing. Rather than perpetuating a false sense of security, Absolute provides a single source of truth and the diamond image of resilience for endpoints as Apria Healthcare’s cybersecurity strategy and results indicate.

 

 

 

 

COVID-19’s Impact On Tech Spending This Year

COVID-19's Impact On Tech Spending This Year

The human tragedy the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on the world is incalculable and continues to grow. Every human life is priceless and deserves the care needed to sustain it. COVID-19 is also impacting entire industries, causing them to randomly gyrate in unpredictable ways, directly impacting IT and tech spending.

COVID-19’s Impact On Industries

Computer Economics in collaboration with their parent company Avasant published their Coronavirus Impact Index by Industry that looks at how COVID-19 is affecting 11 major industry sectors in four dimensions: personnel, operations, supply chain, and revenue. Please see the Coronavirus Impact Index by Industry by Tom Dunlap, Dave Wagner, and Frank Scavo of Computer Economics for additional information and analysis.  The resulting index is an overall rating of the impact of the pandemic on each industry and is shown below:

Computer Economics and Avasant predict major disruption to High Tech & Telecommunications based on the industry’s heavy reliance on Chinese supply chains, which were severely impacted by COVID-19. Based on conversations with U.S.-based high tech manufacturers, I’ve learned that a few are struggling to make deliveries to leading department stores and discount chains due to parts shortages and allocations from their Chinese suppliers. North American electronics suppliers aren’t an option due to their prices being higher than their Chinese competitors. Leading department stores and discount chains openly encourage high tech device manufacturers to compete with each other on supplier availability and delivery date performance.

In contrast to the parts shortage and unpredictability of supply chains dragging down the industry, software is a growth catalyst. The study notes that Zoom, Slack, GoToMyPC, Zoho Remotely, Microsoft Office365, Atlassian, and others are already seeing increased demand as companies increase their remote-working capabilities.

COVID-19’s Impact On IT Spending  

Further supporting the Coronavirus Impact Index by Industry analysis, Andrew Bartels, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester, published his latest forecast of tech growth today in the post, The Odds of a Tech Market Decline In 2020 Have Just Gone Up To 50%.

Mr. Bartels is referencing the market forecasts shown in the following forecast published last month, New Forrester Forecast Shows That Global Tech Market Growth Will Slip To 3% In 2020 And 2021 and shown below:

Key insights from Forrester’s latest IT spending forecast and predictions are shown below:

  • Forrester is revising its tech forecast downward, predicting the US and global tech market growth slowing to around 2% in 2020. Mr. Bartels mentions that this assumes the US and other major economies have declined in the first half of 2020 but manage to recover in the second half.
  • If a full-fledged recession hits, there is a 50% probability that US and global tech markets will decline by 2% or more in 2020.
  • In either a second-half 2020 recovery or recession, Forrester predicts computer and communications equipment spending will be weakest, with potential declines of 5% to 10%.
  • Tech consulting and systems integration services spending will be flat in a temporary slowdown and could be down by up to 5% if firms cut back on new tech projects.
  • Software spending growth will slow to the 2% to 4% range in the best case and will post no growth in the worst case of a recession.
  • The only positive signs from the latest Forrester IT spending forecast is the continued growth in demand for cloud infrastructure services and potential increases in spending on specialized software. Forrester also predicts communications equipment, and telecom services for remote work and education as organizations encourage workers to work from home and schools move to online courses.

Conclusion

Every industry is economically hurting already from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for enterprise software providers to go the extra mile for their customers across all industries and help them recover and grow again. Strengthening customers in their time of need by freely providing remote collaboration tools, secure endpoint solutions, cloud-based storage, and CRM systems is an investment in the community that every software company needs to make it through this pandemic too.

How To Know If An E-Mail Is Trustworthy

How To Know If An E-Mail Is Trustworthy

 

Bottom Line: Phishing is the leading cause of all breaches, succeeding because impersonation, redirection, and social engineering methods are always improving. And, phishing is only one way e-mails are used in fraud. Businesses need to understand if an e-mail address can be trusted before moving forward with a transaction.

Microsoft thwarts billions of phishing attempts a year on Office365 alone by relying on heuristics, detonation, and machine learning, strengthened by Microsoft Threat Protection Services. In 2018 Microsoft blocked 5 billion phish e-mails in Office 365 and detonated 11 billion unique items by ATP sandboxing. Microsoft is succeeding with its cybersecurity partners in defeating phishing attacks. Phishers are going to extraordinary lengths to discover new techniques to evade detection and successfully carry out phishing attempts. By analyzing Office 365 ATP signals, Microsoft sees phishers attempt to abuse many legitimate cloud services, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft Office365, Microsoft Azure, and others. Microsoft is creating processes that identify and destroy phishing attempts without impacting legitimate applications’ performance.

Phishers’ Favorite Trojan Horse Is Office365 Followed By Cybersecurity Companies  

Phishers are hiding malicious links, scripts and, in some cases, mutated software code behind legitimate Microsoft files and code to evade detection. Using legitimate code and links as a Trojan Horse to successfully launch a phishing campaign became very popular in 2019 and continues today. Cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers have been mutating legitimate code and applications for years attempting to exfiltrate priceless data from enterprises and governments globally. Office365 is the phisher’s Trojan Horse of choice, closely followed dozens of cybersecurity companies that have seen hackers attempt to impersonate their products. Cybersecurity companies targeted include Citrix, Comodo, Imperva, Kaspersky, LastPass, Microsoft, BitDefender, CyberRoam, and others.

Using Trojan Horses To Hijack Search Results

In 2019 Microsoft discovered a sophisticated phishing attack that combined impersonation, redirection, and social engineering methods. The phishing attack relied on using links to Google search results as a Trojan Horse to deliver URLs that were poisoned so that they pointed to an attacker-controlled page, which eventually redirected to the phishing page. Microsoft discovered that a traffic generator ensured that the redirector page was the top result for specific keywords. The following graphic explains how the phishing attack was used to poison search results:

Using this workflow, phishers attempted to send phishing e-mails that relied on legitimate URLs as their Trojan Horses from legitimate domains to take advantage of the recipient’s trust. Knowing which e-mails to trust or not is becoming foundational to stopping fraud and phishing attacks.

How Kount Is Battling Sophisticated Attacks 

Meanwhile, e-mail addresses can be a valuable source of information for businesses looking to prevent digital fraud. Misplaced trust can lead to chargebacks, manual reviews, and other undesirable outcomes. But, Kount’s Real-Time Identity Trust Network calculates Identity Trust Levels in milliseconds, reducing friction, blocking fraud, and delivering improved user experiences. Kount discovered that e-mail age is one of the most reliable identity trust signals there are for identifying and stopping automated fraudulent activity.

Based on their research and product development, Kount announced Email First Seen capabilities as part of its AI-powered Identity Trust Global Network. Email First Seen applies throughout the customer journey, from payments to account login to account creation. The Identity Trust Global Network consists of fraud and trust signals from over half a billion e-mail addresses. It also spans 32 billion annual interactions and 17.5 billion devices across 75 business sectors and 50-plus payment providers and card networks. The network is linked by Kount’s next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) and works to establish real-time trust for each identity behind a payment transaction, log in or account creation

E-mail Age Is Proving To Be A Reliable Indicator Of Trust

A favorite tactic of cybercriminals is to create as many new e-mail aliases as they need to deceive online businesses and defraud them of merchandise and payments. Kount is finding that when businesses can identify the age of an e-mail address, they can more accurately determine identity trust. Kount’s expertise is in fraud prevention effectiveness, relying on a combination of fraud and risk signals to generate a complete picture of authentication details. The following graphic illustrates what a Kount customer using Email First Seen will see in every e-mail they receive.

Kount’s Identity Trust Global Network relies on AI-based algorithms that can analyze all available identifiers or data points to establish real-time links between identity elements, and return identity trust decisions in real-time. Kount’s unique approach to using AI to improve customer experiences by reducing friction while blocking fraud reflects the future of fraud detection. Also, Kount’s AI can discern if additional authentication is needed to verify the identity behind the transaction and relies on half a billion e-mail addresses that are integral to AI-based analysis and risk scoring algorithms. Kount is making Email First Seen available to all existing customers for no charge. It’s been designed to be native on the Kount platform, allowing the information to be accessible in real-time to inform fraud and trust decisions.

Conclusion

In 2020 phishing attempts will increasingly rely on legitimate code, links, and executables as Trojan Horses to evade detection and launch phishing attacks at specific targets. Microsoft’s research and continued monitoring of phishing attempts uncovered architecturally sophisticated approaches to misdirecting victims through impersonation and social engineering.

Why Your Biometrics Are Your Best Password

Why Your Biometrics Are Your Best Password

Bottom Line: Biometrics are proving to be better than passwords because they’re easier to use, provide greater privacy and security, and are gaining standardization across a broad base of mobile, desktop, and server devices that users rely on to access online services.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s RSA Conference of Human Element, vendors offering passwordless authentication were out in force. Centrify, Entrust Datacard, HID Global, Idaptive, ImageWare, MobileIron, Thales, and many others promoted their unique approaches to passwordless authentication, leveraging the FIDO2 standard. FIDO2 is the latest set of specifications from the FIDO Alliance, an industry standards organization that provides interoperability testing and certification for servers, clients, and authenticators that meet FIDO2 specifications.

The Alliance has introduced a new Universal Server certification for servers that interoperate with all FIDO authenticator types (FIDO UAF, WebAuthn, and CTAP). The following graphic explains how the FIDO2 architecture authenticates every account requesting access to resources on a secured system:

Why Your Biometrics Are Your Best Password

The security industry has been trying to kill the password for decades. It has long been viewed as a weakness, primarily because of the human element: people continue to use weak passwords, on multiple accounts, at work, and in their personal lives. 81% of data breaches involve weak, stolen, default, or otherwise compromised credentials, according to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Usernames and passwords (“something you know”) was the best factor of authentication available for decades yet didn’t provide enough of a barrier to hackers. Then came two-factor authentication, which added “something you have” as a second factor, such as a smartphone, key card, token, or other tangible item associated with the user.

Today everyone lives in a multi-factor authentication (MFA) world where cybersecurity technologists have added another factor: “something you are.” This is where biometrics come in, and facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, retinal scanning, and other forms of bio-identification have become normal thanks to technologies like Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID. Many people have already been using these technologies for years on their iPhones.

The reality is that these additional factors based on “something you have” or “something you are” are both much stronger than “something you know,” such as a password or PIN. Not only can the latter be easily stolen, guessed, or phished for, but authentication based on biometrics is very hard to fake or duplicate.

In short, by using the two newer factors of authentication, everyone who uses an electronic device daily is moving closer to a passwordless reality. Cybersecurity technologists are going to continue making authentication easier and more secure to improve user experiences and reduce the threat of a breach.

Privileged Admin Passwords Need To Be The First To Go  

Key lessons learned from visiting with the 30 or so vendors who claimed to support passwordless authentication include the following:

  • Centrify was the only vendor who prioritized enforcing FIDO2-based privileged administrator logins. It was also one of the few that specifically mentioned support for Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID, as well as Windows Hello, showing full support for the FIDO2 standard.
  • Windows Hello and Windows Hello for Business are table stakes in passwordless authentication, all vendors claim and can demo this capability.
  • Combining multiple forms of biometrics is proving problematic for the majority of vendors, as evidenced by the inconsistent demos on the show floor. No one could conclusively demo multiple types of biometrics for their solutions on the fly in a demo environment while at RSA. Of the many vendors claiming this capability, Centrify’s approach is the most unique in that privileged user identities are verified, satisfying a valuable pillar of its Identity-Centric PAM approach.
  • All vendors claiming FIDO2 compliance were able to demonstrate Apple’s Touch ID electronic fingerprint recognition, while Apple Face ID facial recognition product demos were hit or miss. If you are evaluating biometrics vendors who claim FIDO2 compliance be sure to stress-test facial recognition, as the demos on the show floor made it clear there’s work to do in this area.
  • Product management teams have been studying the NIST 800-53 high-assurance authentication controls standard and integrating it into their roadmaps. The 170 controls that comprise the NIST 800-53 standard are being adopted quickly across the vendors who claim passwordless authentication as a core strength in their product strategies. Using biometrics eliminates the risk of credential theft techniques and provides better alignment with the NIST 800-53 high-assurance authentication controls standard.
  • Vendors are at varying levels of maturity when it comes to being able to capitalize on the metadata biometrics provides, with a few claiming to have real-time analytics. Every vendor had a different response to how they manage the massive amount of metadata being generated by their biometrics, which all claim also to support analytics. After speaking with the vendors at RSA, analytics used to authenticate rather than just report activity is far more effective. I had a chance to talk to Dr. Torsten George, Cybersecurity Evangelist at Centrify, who said, “Centrify’s support for the FIDO2 standard is a direct result of our ongoing commitment to our customers and their requests for biometric authentication of privileged user identities. Combining our support for the FIDO2 standard with our existing multi-factor authentication and real-time analytics capabilities, we’re able to greatly reduce the risk of security breaches that might exploit weak, default, or stolen privileged credentials.”

Conclusion

RSA’s theme Human Element was prescient from the heavy emphasis on passwordless authentication at this year’s conference. FIDO2 is getting solid support across the cybersecurity vendors who chose to exhibit there, which is great for enterprises, organizations, and small businesses who need to defend themselves. Of the many vendors there, Centrify’s approach stood out based on its unique approach to authenticating privileged user identities for its Identity-Centric PAM platform.

FIDO2 ultimately makes security stronger and less disruptive because it can not only eliminate passwords but also make the user experience more seamless and less likely to be circumvented. Passwordless authentication ensures that login credentials are unique across every website, never stored on a server, and never leave the user’s device. This security model helps eliminate the risks of phishing, as well as all forms of password theft and replay attacks.

We’re closer than ever before to the elusive goal of a passwordless future.

Five Interesting Takeaways From RSA Conference 2020

Five Interesting Takeaways From RSA Conference 2020

 

Bottom Line: Passwordless authentication, endpoint security, cloud-native SIEM platforms, and new API-based data security technologies were the most interesting tech developments, while keynotes focusing on election security, industrial control systems’ vulnerabilities and the persistent threat of state-sponsored ransomware dominated panel discussion.

This year’s RSA Conference was held February 24th to 28th in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, attracting more than 36,000 attendees, 704 speakers, and 658 exhibitors unified by the theme of the Human Element in cybersecurity. The conference’s agenda is here, with many session recordings and presentation slides available for download. Before the conference, RSA published the RSAC 2020 Trend Report (PDF, 13 pp., no opt-in). RSA received 2,400 responses to their Call for Speakers and based their report on an analysis of all submissions. The ten trends in the RSAC 2020 Trend Report are based on an analysis of all papers submitted to the conference. It’s a quick read that provides a synopsis of the main themes of the excellent sessions presented at RSAC 2020.

The following are the five most interesting takeaways from the 2020 RSA Conference:

  • Endpoint security products dominated the show floor, with over 120 vendors promoting their unique solutions. There were over 50 presentations and panels on the many forms of endpoint security as well. Instead of competing for show attendees’ attention on the show floor, Absolute Software took the unique approach of completing a survey during RASC 2020. Absolute’s team was able to interview 100 respondents, with most holding the position of a manager/supervisor or C-level executive. More than three in four respondents reported their organizations are using endpoint security tools, multi-factor authentication, and employee training and education to protect data, devices, and users. You can review their survey results here.
  • The number of vendors claiming to have Zero Trust solutions grew 50% this year, from 60 in 2019 to 91 in 2020. There continues to be a lot of hype surrounding Zero Trust, with vendors having mixed results with their product and messaging strategies in this area. A good benchmark to use for evaluating vendors in the Zero Trust market is the Forrester Wave™: Zero Trust eXtended Ecosystem Platform Providers, Q4 2019, written by Chase Cunningham and published on October 29, 2019. I’ve summarized the lessons learned in the post, What’s New on the Zero Trust Security Landscape In 2019.
  • Over 30 vendors claimed to have passwordless authentication that met the current FIDO2 standard. In keeping with the theme of this year’s RSA Conference of Human Element, vendors offering passwordless authentication were out in force. Centrify, Entrust Datacard, HID Global, Idaptive, ImageWare, MobileIron, Thales, and many others promoted their unique approaches to passwordless authentication, leveraging the FIDO2 standard. FIDO2 is the latest set of specifications from the FIDO Alliance, an industry standards organization that provides interoperability testing and certification for servers, clients, and authenticators that meet FIDO2 specifications. I’ve written a separate post just on this topic, and you can find it here, Why Your Biometrics Are Your Best Password. 
  • Cloud-based security information and event management (SIEM) systems capable of integrating with 3rd party public cloud platforms reflect the maturity nature of this market. Of the several vendors claiming to have cloud-based SIEM, Microsoft’s Azure Sentinel’s demo showed in real-time how fusion AI technology can parse large volumes of low fidelity signals into a few important incidents for SecOps teams to focus on. Microsoft said that in December 2019 alone, Azure Sentinel evaluated nearly 50 billion suspicious signals, isolating them down to just 25 high-confidence incidents for SecOps teams to investigate. The following graphic explains how Azure Sentinel Fusion works.
  • One of the most interesting startups at RSA was Nullafi, who specializes in a novel API-based data security technology that combines data aliasing, vaulting, encryption, and monitoring to create an advanced data protection platform that makes hacked data useless to hackers. What makes Nullafi noteworthy is how they’ve been able to build a data architecture that protects legacy and new infrastructures while making the original data impossible for a hacker to reverse engineer and gain access to. It desensitizes critical data so that it’s useless to hackers but still useful for an organization to keep operating, uninterrupted by a breach to your business. Nullafi is built to AWS GovCloud standards. The Nullafi SDK encrypts the data before sending it to the Nullafi API. It then re-encrypts the data within their zero-knowledge vault in the cloud (or on-premises). The result is that no sensitive data in any format is shared with Nullafi that could be used or lost, as their architecture doesn’t have visibility into what the actual data looks like. The following graphic explains their architecture:

 

What You Need To Know About Location Intelligence In 2020

What You Need To Know About Location Intelligence In 2020

  • 53% of enterprises say that Location Intelligence is either critically important or very important to achieving their goals for 2020.
  • Leading analytics and platform vendors who offer Location Intelligence include Alteryx, Microsoft, Qlik, SAS, Tableau and TIBCO Software.
  • Location Intelligence vendors providing specialized apps and platforms include CARTO, ESRI, Galigeo, MapLarge, and Pitney Bowes.
  • Product Managers need to consider how adding Location Intelligence can improve the contextual accuracy of marketing, sales, and customer service apps and platforms.
  • Marketers need to look at how they can capitalize on smartphones’ prolific amounts of location data for improving advertising, buying, and service experiences for customers.
  • R&D, Operations, and Executive Management lead all other departments in their adoption and use of Location Intelligence this year.
  • Enterprises favor cloud-based Location Intelligence deployments in 2020, with on-premise deployments also seeing new sales this year.

These and many other fascinating insights are from Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Location Intelligence Market Study, their 7th annual report that examines enterprise end-users’ requirements and features including geocoding support, location intelligence visualization, analytics capabilities, and third-party GIS integration. The study is noteworthy for its depth of insights into industry adoption of Location Intelligence and how user requirements drive industry capabilities. Dresner Advisory Services defines location intelligence as a form of Business Intelligence (BI), where the dominant dimension used for analysis is location or geography. Most typically, though not exclusively, analyses are conducted by viewing data points overlaid onto an interactive map interface.

“When we began covering Location Intelligence in 2014, we saw the potential for the topic to gain mainstream interest,” said Howard Dresner, founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “With the growth in visualization and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), incorporating maps and location into business analyses have become increasingly important to many organizations.” Please see page 11 for a description of the methodology and page 13 for an overview of study demographics. Wisdom of Crowds® research is based on data collected on usage and deployment trends, products, and vendors.

Key insights from the study that provides an excellent background on the current state of location intelligence in 2020 include the following:

  • R&D, Operations, and Executive Management lead all enterprise areas in adoption with Location Intelligence being considered critical to their ongoing operations. The majority of Marketing & Sales leaders see Location Intelligence as very important to their ongoing operations. The following graphic compares how important Location Intelligence is to each of the seven departments included in the survey:
  • 90% of Government organizations consider Location Intelligence to be critical or very important to their ongoing operations. Healthcare providers have the second-highest number of organizations who rate Location Intelligence as critical. The study found that mean importance levels are similar across Business Services, Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Consumer Services organizations and decline further among Technology, Retail/Wholesale, and Higher Education segments.
  • Data visualization/mapping dominates all other Location Intelligence use cases in 2020, with over 70% of organizations considering it critical or very important to accomplishing their goals. The study found that the majority of other use cases haven’t achieved the broad adoption data visualization & mapping has. Despite the lower levels of criticality assigned to the nine other use cases, they each show the potential to streamline essential marketing, sales, and operational areas of an enterprise. Site planning/site selection, geomarketing, territory management/optimization, and logistics optimization make up a tier of secondary interest that taken together streamlines supply chains while making an organization easier to buy from. The Dresner research team also defines the third tier of use cases led by fleet routing and citizen services, followed by IoT & smart cities, indoor mapping, and real estate investment/pricing analysis. Despite IoT being over-promoted by vendors, just over 50% of enterprises say the technology is not important to them at this time. The following graphic compares Location Intelligence use cases by the level of criticality as defined by responding organizations:
  • R&D leads all departments in data visualization/mapping adoption, reflecting the high level of importance this use case has across entire enterprises as well. Additional departments and functional areas relying on data visualization/mapping include Operations, Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC), and Executive Management. Geomarketing is seeing the most significant adoption in Marketing & Sales. Operations lead all other functional areas in the adoption of logistics optimization and fleet routing use cases. Dresner’s research team found that R&D’s interest in Location Intelligence, which varies across use cases, may reflect the use of packaged applications as well as select custom development.
  • Map-based visualization, dashboard inclusion of maps, and drill-down navigation through map interfaces are the three highest priority features enterprises look for today. These three features are considered very important to between 64% to 67% of leaders interviewed. Layered visualizations, multi-layer support, and custom region definition are the next most important features. The following graphic provides an overview of prioritized Location intelligence visualization features.
  • Executive Management, BICC, and Operations have the highest level of interest in map-based visualizations that further accelerate the adoption of Location Intelligence across enterprises. Executive Management also leads all others in their interest in dashboard inclusion of maps and custom map support. Executive Management’s increasing adoption of multiple Location intelligence use cases is a catalyst driving greater enterprise-wide adoption. R&D’s prioritizing the layering of visualizations on top of maps, offline mapping and animation of data on maps are leading indicators of these use cases attaining greater enterprise adoption in future years.
  • Four of the top ten Location Intelligence features are considered very important/critical to enterprises, reflecting a maturing market. The most popular (counting, quantifying, or grouping) is critical or very important to 46% of organizations and at least important to nearly 70%. Another indicator of how quickly Location Intelligence is maturing in enterprises is the advanced nature of analytics features being relied on today. Predicting trends and volatility, detecting clusters and outliers, and measuring distances reflect how multiple departments in enterprises are collaborating using Location Intelligence to achieve their shared goals.
  • Government dominates the use of data visualization/mapping with a strong interest in site planning/site selection, citizen services, fleet routing, and territory management. Business Services are most interested in using Location Intelligence for Indoor Mapping and IoT & Smart Cities. Geomarketing is the most adopted feature in Higher Education, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Retail/Wholesale. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale lead all other industries in their adoption of Logistics Optimization. The following graphic provides insights into Location Intelligence use case by industry:
  • Executive Management and Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) most prioritize Location Intelligence applications that have built-in or native geocoding. Enterprises are looking at how built-in or native geocoding can scale across their Location Intelligence use cases and broader BI strategy with Executive Management taking the lead on achieving this goal. Automated geocoding support and street-level geocoding support are also a high priority to Executive Management. Marketing/Sales lead all other departments in their interest in geofencing/reverse geofencing, indicating enterprises are beginning to use these geocoding features to achieve greater accuracy in their marketing and selling strategies. It’s interesting to note that geofencing/reverse geofencing has progressed from R&D in previous studies to Marketing/Sales putting the highest priority on it today. Dresner’s research team interprets the shift to customer-facing strategies being an indicator of broader enterprise adoption for geofencing/reverse geofencing.
  • 61% of organizations say Google integration is essential to their Location Intelligence strategies. Google continues to dominate organizations’ roadmaps as the integration of choice for adding more GIS data to Location Intelligence strategies. ESRI is the second choice with 45% of organizations naming it as an integration requirement. Database extensions (30%) are the next most cited, followed by OpenStreetMap (20%). All other choices are requirements at less than 20% of organizations.
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