In this Tech Express, Simon Weaver, Senior Marketing Campaigns Manager at Esri UK, explains GIS – Geographic Information Systems.
CBR: What is GIS?
SW: Businesses and organisations are looking to extract ever greater value from their data. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) use the location information that’s already present in most data to reveal deeper insight in relationships and patterns, answer complex decisions and help users make more informed decisions through advanced mapping and analytics. Whether that is the location of structured data such as stores, offices, assets, customers or supply chains or unstructured data from weather or social media feeds; once this information is visualised on a map it becomes much easier to build up a clear picture of business operations.
CBR: How does GIS work?
SW: GIS software is designed to capture, manage, analyse and display a wide range of data. GIS software helps businesses answer questions and solve problems by looking at thousands of layers of data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared with stakeholders, on any device. It lets businesses visualise, question, analyse, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends that are often not revealed by traditional analytics.
CBR: Why would businesses use GIS?
SW: Knowing where something is located and the impact of an event, or occurrence, on a location, can be a critical piece of contextual information integral to the successful function of a business or organisation. The emergence of sensor data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem requires context to understand and derive value from it. GIS uniquely analyses vast amounts of data, in real-time, both structured and unstructured, giving businesses an understanding of what is happening in a particular area, what other things are close by, and what impacts they may need to consider.
CBR: What are the main business benefits of GIS?
SW: The main benefits of GIS are: identification and implementation of significant efficiency improvements, enhanced and more proactive customer service, optimised asset management and ultimately increased revenue. An in-year ROI is not unusual and, typically, once customers adopt GIS technology they rapidly expand its use across the enterprise as the benefits become apparent.
CBR: What are your top tips for a business or organisation looking to use GIS?
SW: Understand the power of location. Equip your field workers with mobile and cloud-based technology for them to carry out their operations, and then use GIS to underpin this so that location can provide valuable context to your data.
This will lead to Operational Intelligence (OI) – essentially driving the insight to run your business on real time information about what’s actually going on with customers, staff, assets and more. GIS delivers live intuitive visualisation of the key information that you need to operate at peak efficiency and deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Also, recognise the opportunity to breakdown silos between departments and to easily share critical information with stakeholders across the business. GIS integrates well with existing IT systems to ensure the right people across your business have access to the information they need. It will safely enable new ways to cooperate and share information within your business, with partners and with customers.
Finally, recognise and measure the impact – see your operational intelligence grow, your analytical insights deepen and, overall, experience the power of this technology for true digital transformation of your business.