Big Data's Role in Site Selection

Posted: Updated:

In the world of site selection, companies assess the pros and cons of various factors to identify the location that best fits their current and future business needs. The list may seem endless: labor availability, utility needs and costs, real estate options, tax climate, incentives, quality-of-life considerations, even an area’s weather patterns and the likelihood of natural disasters.

With the emergence of big data and the use of data analytics in all facets of business decision-making, the mechanics used to organize and evaluate the information that drives site selection decisions have taken a quantum leap . And the impact is only going to become further-reaching.

When we started working in the site selection industry, a paper-intensive request for proposal (RFP) drove the process. Through an RFP, we would ask for a bevy of information that state and local stakeholders would spend days and weeks gathering, resulting in a final deliverable totaling hundreds of pages.

Now the process moves much faster and in a much different fashion. With companies making decisions more quickly, the demand for information accessibility grows every year. RFPs still have their place, but because so much information is available online via various unrestricted databases, companies don’t need to rely on site selection consultants or state and local government officials to access basic information. They are able to obtain it themselves.

For more comprehensive searches, consultants and companies are able to access private databases and other paid research resources for information. These outlets allow for sophisticated, targeted searches, enabling companies to be especially precise in the data being searched.

Nowhere is this level of refinement more precise than in the retail sector. By digging deep into the characteristics of sites and cross-referencing those attributes with consumer and other demographic information driving a retailer’s business, companies are able to make site decisions with such acuity that it makes the old way of site selection decision-making seem embarrassingly antiquated.

Despite the advances fostered by data analytics, site selection is still greatly impacted by qualitative factors that fall outside the realm of electronic research or granular data mining. Various economic development publications issue quality-of-life surveys along with best and worst rankings proclaiming the top places to grow a business and areas to be avoided. Despite these lists, many decision-makers find softer, qualitative influences best evaluated through a process not driven solely by a clinical, dispassionate approach. In place of data analytics, CEOs and other executive team members physically visit sites and meet with state and local officials in person to assess quality-of-place considerations. They then cross reference this human experience with the sense of culture they seek to build within their companies and workplaces.

The use of data analytics may also fail to account for the human component of local site selection decisions. For example, if a project is on a tight timeframe, companies want to know how that deadline will be nurtured or impeded by the governmental bureaucracy indigenous to the area. Do local officials have a strong history of working collaboratively with companies, or do they bring their own wish list to a project that could kill the deal? These factors are hard to account for without live interactions and interviewing the individuals directly impacting those outcomes.

Nonetheless, the use of data analytics is here to stay, and its impact on site selection is sure to increase. These are big decisions companies are making. They need to find data just as big to help them make the best decisions.

  • Perspectives

    • What’s Your Biggest Waste of Money?

      Americans are in the age of reducing waste. There’s a big push to purchase sustainable products, reduce our usage of plastics, and recycle. But has this trend carried over to our personal finances?  Not really.  In a study by The Ascent, the financial expertise arm of The Motley Fool, more than 60 percent of respondents felt they have wasteful financial tendencies. Why is that?

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • The IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering will now be named for Fred Luddy for his $60M gift. (photo courtesy James Brosher/IU)

      $60M Gift to Fund AI Center

      An Indiana University alumnus who founded the information technology firm, ServiceNow, has given his alma mater $60 million to establish an artificial intelligence center. The university says the gift from cloud-computing pioneer Fred Luddy is the second largest in the history of the IU.

    • The plant manufactured parts for the assembly of Ball Mason jars and other preserving containers. (photo courtesy WTHR-TV)

      Muncie Manufacturing Plant to Close

      A historic part of Muncie will soon be closing its doors. Our partners at WTHR-TV report New Jersey-based Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) has decided to close its manufacturing facility in the Delaware County city, which produces parts for the assembly of Ball Mason jars. 

    • (photo courtesy Purdue University)

      Purdue Professor Pleads Guilty to $1.3M Fraud Case

      A Purdue University professor and his wife have pleaded guilty last week to using more than $1 million in federal research funds for their own personal expenses. Federal prosecutors say Qingyou Han of West Lafayette and his wife Lu Shao of Lakewood, Ohio pleaded guilty to a felony wire fraud charge in federal court in Hammond. 

    • POET ethanol co. announced in Aug 2019 it was closing the plant in Cloverdale. (photo courtesy: POET)

      Cloverdale Ethanol Plant Closes

      South Dakota-based POET LLC, the nation’s largest biofuels producer, is moving forward with a plan to shut down its biorefining plant in Cloverdale, leaving 50 Hoosiers without jobs effective Friday. The company tells Inside INdiana Business that it is not making any changes to the plans announced two months ago. 

    • (Image of downtown Shelbyville courtesy of Mainstreet Shelbyville Inc.)

      Shelbyville Unveils Major Downtown Redevelopment

      The city of Shelbyville is announcing what it calls a major downtown redevelopment project to boost overall quality of life. The project plans feature green spaces, increased parking, market-rate housing, and infrastructure for public entertainment and community events.