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Businesses Missing Out on Benefits of Geographical Information Systems

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Organizations can spend millions of dollars on geographical information systems but their senior executives grossly undervalue the technology's contribution to business, a survey has found.

A whopping 77 per cent of IT professionals surveyed said their senior management team did not have a good understanding of GIS technologies.

The research found GIS was used by a specialised workforce and was usually confined to a dedicated team, while other parts of the organisation were often oblivious to the technology's contribution.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said GIS was the sole domain of that department.

A vast majority of participants said their GIS platforms were either not integrated at all with other enterprise systems or were only partially integrated.

The survey was conducted by Esri, Australia's leading GIS vendor with a 60 per cent market share, by consulting 400 of its local customers.

If integrated and executed well, GIS can deliver significant cost savings and benefits. One example is Queensland energy supplier Energex's rollout of Esri, which identified about $500 million in new assets.

Gary Johnson, Esri Australia location intelligence consulting practice principal consultant, urged senior executives to roll up their sleeves and understand how GIS could be used throughout their organisations.

Mr Johnson said that by relegating GIS to a standalone unit, organisations as a whole were missing out on the benefits of the technology.

If embedded into an enterprise system, GIS data can be linked to corporate financial systems and other platforms to deliver charts and reports that would directly impact and aid management's decision-making process.

The ability to make faster decisions and save tens of millions of dollars were advantages cited by Ergon Energy chief Ian McLeod. The Queensland utility is deploying Google Earth Builder, a competitor of GIS.

Mr Johnson said Google was welcome on its turf and it was encouraging to see new players coming into the GIS market.

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