When is an enterprise-wide GIS implementation viable?
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
When I reached class 9 in my ICSE affiliated school, I had selected the specialisation 'Science & Commerce' and was given a choice - select 'Pure Maths' or 'Business Maths' as a compulsory subject. Upon asking around, I figured that Pure Maths was targeted towards an audience who wished to deep dive into complex mathematics concepts which would stand them in good stead in STEM education pursuits later in life whereas Business Maths was targeted towards an audience who wished to have a good understanding of mathematics fundamentals which have applications in a future business context. (A fear of the former and a propensity for the latter resulted in an easy decision for me to take.)
This analogy is applicable in a GIS (Geographic Information System) implementation context as well. When I say that I offer GIS i.e. mapping and spatial technology solutions, business leaders are kind of wary. 'What is this unknown creature? And how can it help my business?', they wonder (so I think).
I make it a point to write a detailed email and even redirect them to some of my previous blog entries meant to decode this GIS (Geographic Information System) beast. I give them confidence that this is a creature that can be domesticated to make operating your business a whole lot easier.
However, enterprise level GIS solutions don't come cheap. Years of high tech hard-work by thousands of contributors (cartographers, scientists, researchers etc.) have gone in to make these comprehensive solutions possible today. Due to the high upfront costs and technology adoption challenges, it is a major decision whether to invest in GIS or not.
I generally advise business leaders to find operations problems which, if addressed, would result in net savings and/or increased revenue of 'Rs. Fifty lacs and above' (5 mn INR+). Only then would it be viable to implement an enterprise level GIS solution and generate a positive return from the investment. I am confident that four out of five organisations from any industry with an annual revenue of Rs 5 crores and above (50 mn INR+) can use GIS in their organisations.
One can also use GIS as a 'good to have' technology as well: to demonstrate the level of operational professionalism to internal and external stakeholders, however, not many are eager to opt for that in the perennially cut-throat Indian business environment.
‘Location Intelligence’ solutions can be used for operations improvement purposes ranging from market development and network design to operations dashboarding and salesforce management. GIS essentially is an appropriate framework to capture geospatial data, however, in combination with data-points generated within the organisation or publicly available / procured datasets - would result in excellent business value. The Shopping Centre Group use case video is ideal to understand the concept and attractiveness of GIS from a business perspective.
Now the benefits arising from these can itself be more than sufficient to incorporate GIS within the organisation. These applications can be configured for you so that you can view the metrics in a desired format, across devices, integrating internal and external data, with analysing and visualisation capabilities. Essentially GIS creates a common operating view of an organisation. You don't need any technical, geospatial expertise to operate these. 'You desire and we configure': in a manner convenient to use for virtually anyone in an organisation.
However, there are pure mapping applications as well (akin to pure maths) which are highly technical, would require GIS trained manpower to operate on a daily basis and can contribute towards the 'technological superiority' of your organisation.
These can be related to AEC (architecture, construction, and engineering), Emergency Management, Natural Resource Management (such as agriculture, mining, solar & so on) and other Location Intelligence purposes. These should be factored in your Enterprise GIS implementation decision as well.
Moreover, you can also come up with unique ways to use GIS for a purely technical purpose. See the PaintCopter by Disney Research Hub video (drone with spray paint attached) which essentially uses spatial navigating capabilities (compatible with GIS) to paint the graffiti. Combining mapping applications with hardwares, sensors and disruptive technology such as AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain and so on is also an increasingly attractive and viable option now.
To summarise, while taking a decision one should deep dive into the business use cases of GIS as well as include its purely technical capabilities which are important aspects in itself and can contribute immensely, even for commercial organisations.
Intelloc Mapping Services | Mapmyops.com is engaged in selling products which capture geo-data (Drones), process geo-data (Geographic Information System) as well as services (PoI Datasets & Satellite Imagery). Together, these help organizations to benefit from Geo-Intelligence for purposes such as operations improvement, project management and digital enabled growth.
Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Download our one-page profile here. Request a demo.