Harnessing the Power of Location

By Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India

Geography has been an integral part of the evolution of mankind; from time immemorial humans have been using it in their pursuit of finding food, shelter, new territories, and understanding their world better. Today, Geography is regarded as a science that provides us the context and the content of our world. A Geographic Information system lets us visualize, analyze, discover and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. GIS deals with the “Where”, integrating geography into virtually everything we do, agnostic of industry domains or sciences. GIS links and relates all information with geography as a common denominator.

Mobile, Big Data, Cloud and Internet of Things are some of the technologies that are helping organizations in gaining Digital maturity. Geographic information system (GIS) technology, which includes enterprise systems, cloud-based solutions, apps, and mobile capabilities, is easy to use and allows businesses to work more efficiently. This greatly improves how companies can grow their digital quotient.

Enterprises deals with location information in every department; customers, employees, vendors, partners, assets – all have a location. In this situation maps and location serve as the framework for integration. On the back end, where systems are built and managed, GIS technology links customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence (BI), financial management, asset management, and many other systems. While on the front end, where workers and customers consume information through mobile devices, computers and the IoT, digital maps serve as the perfect medium of information for people.

People process information faster when it's visual. Making information available on maps, which are inherently intuitive and provide visual discernment, makes it easier for users to see patterns that are hidden within spreadsheets and databases. Therefore, it is apt to give your time-pressed CEO and CIO a location dashboard, give your field crews and customer service representative’s real-time data in apps through their mobile devices, provide the analyst with sophisticated analysis features to develop algorithms, models and perform computations. GIS acts as a system of records.

GIS provides an end-to-end digital solution that is fast, agile, connected, and responsive. The advanced technology unlocks a kind of location enablement that serves as the core of digital. How? It enables customer engagement, decision support, field mobility, superior analytics, and data management. And it does this by unlocking the data your organization already has. Simply put, GIS meets the evolving needs of staff and customers to access data, anytime and anywhere, on easy-to-use apps through any device. At the same time, GIS are enterprise-wide systems that replace repetitive and outdated processes that are time-consuming and error prone. Instead of staff collecting data on paper or in siloed systems, they can use mobile apps for data collection which can be quickly processed and easily published in the form of maps. This makes data available throughout an organization and to its external partners and saves massive amounts of time compared to inputting paper records or processing data requests between departments. GIS becomes a system of engagement.

Today's forward-thinking organizations rely on location for digital transformation. For example, automobile companies use GIS to streamline their supply chain, optimize their sales and service channels, better demand forecasting and improved customer engagement.

In banking, GIS technology speeds and optimizes risk assessment, resilience planning, site location, and marketing. Banks can map financial transactions based on origin, destination, amount, and customer to identify fraudulent activity. GIS reveals the context behind data such as where marketing outreach is most effective, customers' purchasing habits, needs for additional products or services, competition in the market, loan defaulting areas, or the impacts of demographic changes. GIS help them improve operational excellence and profitability.

GIS technology enables telecommunications professionals to integrate location data into analysis and management processes. Telecommunication companies can map service areas, customer metrics, and marketing efforts to ensure outreach is aligned to need and growth opportunities in specific locations. Visualizing big data on a map helps companies answer questions such as, where can we gain new customers? Where is the ideal area for expansion? Where do we need to upgrade equipment for better call connectivity?

Central and State governments are increasingly required to streamline processes while adhering to complex political and social requirements. Public organizations use GIS in various domains like Governance, Infrastructure planning, Natural resources management, homeland security, community engagements, education and research. In India, national and state governments have been emphasizing on the need of a geocentric approach in implementing various programs and initiatives like the Smart Cities, Digital India, Clean Ganga, Disaster Management etc.

With evolving technological trends in the web and mobile computing, GIS has developed into a platform – an integrated Web GIS that is supported by services along with an abstracted geo-information model, accessible by a whole bunch of applications. Adhering to latest Information technology standards by applying stronger security, identity, extensibility, configurability and integration capability has taken GIS to a new level, helping organizations to easily implement and deploy enterprise wide applications not only with on premise infrastructure, but also entirely on cloud.

More and more industries, businesses, and government entities recognize the value of digital processes. They are beginning to see a need for strategic planning versus tactical execution of digital capabilities. GIS serves as the perfect starting point. It can provide enterprise-wide capabilities and easily integrate with existing systems. Moreover, it supplies the perfect intuitive interface for your staff and customers alike. If you want to approach the digital transformation age, don't ask how. Ask where.

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