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Unleash The Power Of Geography For Your Business

by Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India August-2016

Geography has always been at the core of business decisions. Businesses have used location or geographic information for decades to analyse, visualize and understand business dynamics for more informed decisions. 

While being omnipresent, location still remains one of the most underutilized assets. It is a known fact that 80 percent of business data has a location or a spatial element associated with it. With the combination of right technology and the spatial element already present within the business data, businesses can have a powerful tool to arrive at better business decisions and strategies. 

GIS - Not just another Acronym
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a technology for applying geography and helping businesses analyse, visualize and understand location intelligence to make more informed business decisions. This technology captures, manages, analyses and displays all forms of geographically referenced information and allows the user to view, understand, question, interpret and visualize data in ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts.

In India, Government organizations that deal with national mapping, land management, urban and rural development, natural resources etc.,utilitiesand telecommunications were early adopters of this technology. Now we see many organizations in Banking & Financial Services, Manufacturing and Retail use GIS to extract more value from the data they already have in their business systems like BI, ERP, CRM etc.

Location changes the way you look at the data Know your customers better
Companies that listen to customers and understand what they really care about become more competitive and successful. They make business decisions based on customer preferences and competitive factors. GIS and location analytics allow organizations to visualize where their existing customers are, down to neighbourhood and household levels; analyse demographic, psychographic, purchasing and spending characteristics for accurate customer segmentation. In complex business environment, where thousands of decisions have to be made annually, this analysis can drastically reduce the chances of wrong decisions and cuts down risks.

Make better business decisions
Expanding any business requires long-term strategic planning and often significant capital expenditure. With more accurate location and market planning insights at hand, the performance of capital investment can be maximised. E.g., Walgreens uses GIS technology to track the incidences of flu to stock sufficient medicines for its cure; decide where to open new stores and select the types of merchandise to sell at its 8,200 locations.

Discover new insights with spatial patterns and relationships
Today’s supply chains are truly global and interconnected. We have seen floods and typhoons in Asia impact manufacturing which in turn created shortage of supplies across the globe, adversely impacting businesses. GIS, location analysis and data integration services enable businesses to improve supply chain visibility, reduce risk and better balance production to demand. Cisco uses GIS for an accurate visualization of its Global Service Supply Chain footprint and operational capabilities by linking it to their business environment. Customer-to-service depot assignments are automated, making it more efficient to distribute the spare parts inventory. Through this improved visibility of service territories, significant traction has been made in eliminating coverage overlaps, removing service gaps and optimizing the service part delivery network.

Identify growth whitespots
National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is using GIS for dairy planning and identifying new locations for milk collection centres. Milk has a short shelf life and should be processed within 4 hrs of collection from villages. GIS helps identifying new sites for setting up collection centres with 1000 litres or more collection capacity and villages which can be covered by these collection centres without compromising the milk quality and maximizing milk collection. 

Enrich the value of your existing data with location
Businesses and IT organizations can use a GIS platform to integrate mapping and geospatial analysis into business systems (e.g., BI, ERP, and CRM). This pattern not only allows everyone in an organization to easily make maps with their business data but also supports the integration of traditional business data with the other types of GIS information traditionally housed within the GIS department.

Conclusion
As location information is becoming pervasive, so is the use of GIS. Spatial decision making must get embedded into the business processes and workflows of the organizations – both government and private sector. It should be an integral part of the IT strategy of every CIO and become the core of the decision support systems of the organization. The popularity of mobile technologies and the advent of new business apps are enabling enterprise users to remain connected; GIS or a location platform will only make those apps more useful and friendly for decision-making and open new communication channels for employees, partners and customers.