The combined use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Business Intelligence today is helping businesses operate and improve productivity, and cut costs like never before. Applications that connect GIS and BI allow companies to track employees, assets, and equipment, and to collect and interpret data in real time to make informed decisions.
GIS digitally stores geographic information that businesses use to make effective analytical decisions regarding assets in the field. Google Earth and Apple’s Maps are examples of simplified GIS.
However, merging a company’s databases with more sophisticated GIS hardware and software can help businesses better visualize relationships between their customers, employees, and suppliers all the while improving profit margins and efficiency throughout an organization.
Business intelligence is a technology-driven process that helps firms to analyze and report raw data to make educated decisions. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the geospatial industry.
Business Intelligence is one of the fastest growing areas in the geospatial industry.
Among the benefits of GIS/BI use include:
- BI data gives a cohesive view of an organization’s information needs to identify and prioritize critical initiatives
- Monitor key business processes
- Impart operational knowledge instantly
- Organize reports and models that show a business view of data
- Increase analytical and decision-making capacity
- Manage an organization’s performance
Despite being used for some time in the natural resources, forestry, and environmental industries, the use of GIS/BI is only recently expanding into more industries for business and management functions.
Between 50% and 85% of data used by organizations includes spatial components.
Various industries, both public and private, can use GIS/BI applications integrated into any enterprise information system framework to more effectively interpret spatial information for logistics, sites and facilities management, marketing, decision-making, planning, and more functions.
GIS/BI in Customer Relationship Management
Spatial relationships defined by GIS can be used to analyze customer shopping frequency, adjust operating hours based on customer shopping times, alter locational pricing and inventory needs, identify beneficial locations for additional storefronts, and even perform targeted advertising campaigns.
GIS/BI Improves Data Accuracy and System Management
There are several advantages in the water utility business to using GIS/BI. Ninety percent of a utility’s data is connected to a geospatial location. Services must know the location of their pipes, valves, meters, sampling points and other assets.
They also need to see the location and water usage patterns of their customers. Moreover, they need to know where their field crews are working and what assets require maintenance.
GIS allows users to view and analyze information based on its spatial location and its relationship to other features-often where no other association is available.
GIS/BI allows the Rowland Water District to view and analyze their assets and utilities that lie beneath and above the surface.
The video below is an example of Nobel Systems’ GeoViewer Valve Isolation Tool that helps water utilities locate and identify valves in its system.
A typical utility map that shows water and sewer assets does not have a great deal of background information displayed other than pipe size and material.
GIS systems have much more information tied to these utilities, like the age, material and past maintenance records. This information makes it easier to identify and manage critical assets.
GIS/BI also helps to accurately track details, like the operational maintenance and incidences of water main breaks, making it an essential tool in helping assess an overall system.
Once established, the GIS system can be enhanced to serve as a pivotal link for meeting ongoing data maintenance requirements, supporting numerous data analysis/reporting activities, and interfacing with other applications and business systems.
Power utilities also use GIS/BI to track and analyze assets and operational maintenance details.
South Carolina Electric and Gas uses its GIS for work order sketching, mapping, and planning for applications to perform voltage drop analysis and “what-if” modeling scenarios in response to electrical supply problems.
Pennsylvania Power and Light utilizes GIS to produce location maps so managers can show meter readers their daily routes in advance.
GIS/BI in Marketing
Some organizations have applied GIS to their marketing intelligence and analysis needs. Marketing agencies us GIS in marketing for a broad spectrum of activities from internal, local, and national market analysis.
It is also used to customize regional advertising and promotions: content and location of billboards or other local advertisements based on regional demographics, as well as customizing advertising for special-events promotions.
Agencies also use GIS on the national scale for new product launches, target marketing, custom mailings, advertising, and media selection.
Texaco uses GIS to explore markets for sighting new Texaco stations and for enhancing existing facilities. Included in these activities are demographic analyses of neighborhoods and competitor locations to identify likely areas for new stations and the appropriate advertising and product mix for existing stores.
BI/GIS Improves Inventory and Delivery Efficiency
GIS and related geographic information technologies combined with Business Intelligence are increasingly becoming critical tools for addressing logistics and transportation problems.
GIS technology can help optimize delivery routes. Advanced routing software can determine the most efficient path for multiple deliveries over time, based on distances, speed limits, left turn locations, and traffic signal locations and timing.
Transportation systems use tools and algorithms such as transportation network models and material flow models that come from disciplines such as operations research and production management.
Through this means, a GIS both supports decision modeling activities and displaying the results in a user-friendly manner.
These technologies are a few examples of useful applications of GIS/BI used by urban planners and managers to improve efficiency, reduce waste, lower personnel and fuel costs, along with providing improved customer service.
Across industries and applications, GIS provides better Business Intelligence. The examples above of GIS applications are only a sliver of potential uses in better Business Intelligence.
A small initial investment in GIS can quickly lead to significant profit increases and considerable expenditure decreases by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a firm’s business plan.
Nobel Systems is leading the way by combining Geographic Information Systems and Business Intelligence with new, user-friendly application interfaces.