Operational GIS: Driving Place-based Insights for Business Analytics
GIS has been used in various corporate and government projects serving many industries and communities. Throughout its evolution, GIS has become a powerful analytical and visualization tool that impacts business decisions, growth strategy, and company general direction.
In general, GIS has six pillars: hardware, software, data, people, methods, and operations. Until recently, GIS has been widely viewed and used by many as a specialty technology platform in separation from the wider organizational strategy and business needs and objectives. This has been the biggest threat to the GIS industry today.
The challenge today is related to this segregation between GIS and the rest of the organization which created a situation where people are too specialized and software is too hard to utilize. The result of this is segregation operations, siloed and compartmentalized data, and lack of solution interoperability. And all of this made it difficult for people to collaborate and make decisions which caused redundancy of time and effort and created inefficiency and wasted resources.
There is a growing need to integrate the analytical and computational capabilities that GIS technology offers into the wider enterprise to boost a more effective and efficient decision making process. GIS is slowly moving towards an integrated technology as part and parcel of the larger workflows and business operations of any company. This means that employees and partners will have ubiquitous access to critical data and information that will drive demonstrable value and measurable business impacts, with location at the core of everything they do. For this to happen a paradigm shift in the way we view and utilize GIS in our day-to-day work is warranted. GIS has to be viewed as an operational technology that can be used by the entire organization to ‘connect the dots’ regarding business analytics, visualization of options and scenarios, and sharing of results and insights.
Similarly, the populations of many US cities has been steadily growing (about 40 percent) during the past 30 years, which calls for developing effective place-based policies to manage healthy growth. GIS provides this place-based analytical platform where informed decisions and strategies can be driven based on evidence-based analysis, while smart actions can be executed with ‘place’ in mind. This means a transformative approach in the way GIS is used as a technology to an operational platform that is an integral part of the business ecosystem is on the rise.
With this emerging trend, GIS is becoming a mainstream operational technology, spatial knowledge can be exposed to the rest of the organization and location-based services are being extended and utilized in all departments, putting the power of GIS in the hands of the business users, who need it the most in making decisions in a collaborative fashion to support their business needs. This is where GIS can have the biggest impact.