Geographic Systems in Business

Geographic Information System (GIS) started out as just a proprietary system that used its own standards into a position of using technology standards and technology-based standards to be accepted by the IT community as another form of information technology that could help manage business. It has become one of the newer emerging Business Intelligence (BI) areas that, “has now become a full IT system for integrating all sorts of scientific and geographic information into all human activities” (Mitchell, 2009, p. 2).

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GIS layered

Geographical Information Systems

A GIS implements computers to capture data on all forms of geographical referenced information and manages the data for analyses. Visual data produced by GIS systems can be used to show relationships, patterns and trends by reports that can either be shown on a map or in standard reports, graphs and charts. Several available programs can be obtained for free from sites, like opensourcegis.org, to incorporate into businesses Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) to help develop a company’s business strategy/plan in banking, insurance, logistics, media, real estate, and retail. Corporations are not the only organizations that can/have benefit from a GIS. Government, educational and science, environment and conservation, natural resources and utility organizations can also benefit from implementing geographic information systems to learn best practice by collecting data dealing with Geo-location problem solving. “GIS is a powerful analytical tool. Its benefits to underwriting management are many, in helping to better underwrite risk and control hazardous and catastrophic exposures” (Picture, 2005, p. 10).
Benefits of GIS in BI has evolved to the point were we do not need to know who did what when and why but also solved the 5th piece of the puzzle, where it happened, also known as spatial technology. Gis.com describes several different uses that can be implemented using GIS. The basics of how GIS can be used is to map features on a map and to find patterns on how those features change to make better decisions in market research, by using quantities as a reference with location businesses in sales can easily be informed were there target market is located and which locations on a map have the highest densities for a chosen market segmentation. An additional feature is the ability to shift the location information by time and distinguish patterns in time. A good example would be how meteorologist use GIS to track global trends in weather in order to better predict weather in the future. The realization of how well GIS can help in business is apparent when global organizations like the World Bank make it a priority to “help countries develop national statistical capacity and help mobilize the expertise of the international statistical system” (World, 2011, para 2).
Data collection used for plotting points on a map use to mainly involve businesses questionnaires and government censuses were the primary way to collect data could be inaccurate because of the many steps it takes before the data is digitized and you still had to account for human error. The quality of data was not as accurate as current resources being applied today through smart phones, and other forms of computers that are connected to the Internet and constantly report location through the use of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Addition the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips, satellites, scalable maps, aerial-photography and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geo-tagged pictures, and just about anything that moves have also been tied in with GIS to allowed for tracking of data that can be placed on a map with more accuracy through automation. Time accuracy of data is another quality issue that needs to be addressed. The world is always changing, you usually wouldn’t use last month’s weather report to go on a motorcycle ride, or you friends address from 20 years ago to send a post card. It is important to make sure that the data being used is up to date before making critical businesses decisions on it also.
Challenges and risks of deploying any BI environment process or tool are the same as it has been to deploy any form of decision making platform in the past several decades. Wither implementation is constrained by technical ability, human and financial resources or just the lack of coordination throughout an organization. There are traditional legalities being added to cover privacy rights as more and more Geo-data about consumers is being disseminated throughout the world. Privacy rights are being circumvented by added small disclosure rights to most software that has to be accepted before you can use a service providers services. One way an organization can save resources is to implement low cost external data that is readily available by companies like Google maps but it is a patchy solution and potentially could not be available in the future.
As a BI consultant I would recommend the use of geographic information for any larger company, in any industry, the larger the company the greater the needed to track spacial information in order to reduce risk in decision making. The technology in GIS has developed to the point were anyone can access the Internet and get a general view of spacial data for underwriting, man-made, environmental, infrastructure, facilities and especially in businesses were the sales by location can provide better information on policyholder, and can target potential clients.

References
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words! (2005, December). Canadian Underwriter: Insurance Technology Guide 2006,10. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 974623161).
Mitchell, R.. (2009, July). Jack Dangermond. Computerworld, 43(24), 13-14. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1821176221).
World Bank Aids Tanzania to Improve Quality of Statistical Data and Information. (2011, March 26). The Pak Banker. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2302228461).

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Sources of Data for Business intelligence

CassettesRaw data on its own is not very useful, it is just stacks of symbols, sounds, pictures, numbers or words. After data is collected the ability to connect the data, to give it relational meaning is when data becomes useful information. Information can answer questions of who, what, when and where. Once you see the relation in information you can start to see patterns in how the information changes through visual representations. Knowledge is gained from information when businesses can understand the changing patterns of information to answer questions on how items function in the real world; this is the main goal of business intelligence. Unless business information data compromises privacy or security, all data in every activity that can be observed and recorded will eventual become legally obtained business intelligence. Data acquisition helps in making informed business decisions by transforming information into graphs, charts, simulations or datasets to analyze trends and conclude on what businesses decisions should be made. Wither it is for a government or commercial business the optimal amount of data collection that is wanted is unlimited, because once you now everything about your target goal, you can begin to make the most accurate decisions.
Data Collection in Manufacturing
Managers want feedback from the manufacturing equipment they are in charge of, to monitor how machine processes are, how long the machine has been idle, and how many parts per shift have been produced. Equipment can be attached to machines that can monitor all aspects of physical change from several different points. Analog to digital converters can send the information to a management resource planner or process planner for real time updates on the total progress of a manufacturing plant. Events are monitored in real time for information that can help with corrective actions or adjust accountancy billing based on the amount of parts produced. Thousands of data points can be monitored each second for change on equipment, the several samples of variable changes are “critical to process inputs, even from multiple channels, as fast as possible. But there is more to it than that. Inputs must be processed and correlated so that the feedback loop can initiate changes earlier” (Varhol, 2006, para. 7).
Data entry from security entry ways within factories has also been tied into the billable hours for payroll and taxes, by using the same devices that scan your identification card to gain access to the company to also track when a employee logged in or out of work. So you know when personnel entered the building and when they started working to when they finished working and left the building. Their is several additional data points that that when entered and managed can help better manage personnel, production, billing and collections, sales management, customer care, marketing campaigns, supply chains, accounting, decision supports and any other business decisions. Information and data that is collected in a manufacturing company is obvious and usually serves an internal purpose. More and more companies are gleaning data that can be taken without people even realizing it and used for better advertisement.
Data for Online Marketing
More and more data every year is being amassed from companies over the internet. The use of smart phones has probably doubled or tripled the amount of data available for use in marketing campaigns. Websites, interactive applications, emails, and advertisements can incorporate cookies, pixel tags and web beacons to track individuals browsing behavior to better facilitate the effectiveness for advertising and search engine optimization. Online companies also try to track occupation, language, location, and unique device identifier of device when a product is used so that companies can better understand customer behavior and improve products, services, and advertising. Data gathered from Internet enabled devices also help to control the amount of times you see an Internet ad, to help display ads that are similar to your personal interests and help to monitor the effectiveness of an on-line ad campaign. The most recent data mining craze is storing your personal location using the global positioning system (GPS) and your phone.
Wireless Data Collection
Your location is just as important as all the other data previously discussed. Apple even changed there privacy policies in 2010 so the companies “iPhone, iPad and Mac computers collect location information, but do so anonymously in batches and encrypt it before sending the data over a WiFi connection from the devices to Apple’s servers every 12 hours (Apple, 2010, para. 1). Apple’s admitted that the main reason for wanting to track location of there customers is to provide location based services.
More and more governments are pursuing locational data. Companies like Chevron have been able save millions in freight costs with “more efficient routing that cuts the number of hours and miles the boats travel” (Feldman, 2010, para. 3). Companies can also use location based web services and geospatial information systems (GIS) to decide where the next office or store should be built based on actual driving times and traffic patterns. Other companies are using GPS, RFID, and Wi-Fi technologies to control shipments and other logistics in supply chain management, local government can report problems instantly of time sensitive situations like a down power line, government workers can use smart phones to geo-tag a picture and send it to the main office so the correct department can be notified to fix the problem. The United Parcel Service uses GPS to report were your package is during transit and GPS can be used for just socially updating friends were they are by using applications like Foursquare, a social driven location sharing application.
Conclusion
Data collection is being used more in businesses and governments every year. It has saved money in production and shipping because of the ability to monitor production and shipping in real time. Marketing can be used to target individuals on-line and remember who you are for your visit. We have only scratched the surface on how business intelligence will develop in the future. Even small business can take advantages of some of the technology that was to expensive to consider just a decade ago because of the price drop in devices like smart phones and other technological advancements.

Reference
Apple Tells Congressmen it Batches Encrypts Location Data 411968. July 20, 2010 pNAeWeek, p.NA. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu
Feldman, J. (Nov 1, 2010). [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Location Data] Here And Now. InformationWeek, 1284. p.53. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu
Varhol, P. (June 26, 2006). Advanced control designs are drowning in data. Electronic Engineering Times, p.39. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Computer Database via Gale: http://0-find.galegroup.com.libcat.ferris.edu/gtx/start.do?prodId=CDB&userGroupName=lom_ferrissu

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