Hello GIS, Meet Business Analytics, Part 2

Geo-BI Benefits, Challenges and the Way Forward
By Vijay Kumar | Published February 5, 2013

*This is the second article in a series on GeoBI integration. Part 1 is available here.


THE TREND OF DATA COLLECTION AND DATA ANALYTICS IS ON THE RISE. Organizations collect large volumes of data relevant to their business operations, management, production, finance, marketing, competition, customers, suppliers, markets, and many more domains. Data collection has increased significantly as we have entered the era of digital solutions and automated data collection devices and mechanisms. Technologies are now available that can help organizations access data instantly and visualize the information in the way they want. Geospatial Business Intelligence (GeoBI) software tools to analyze data in a meaningful way have been used by organizations for more than two decades to enable faster decision making.










































With the help of the latest developments in spatial technology, it is now technically feasible to harness the power of spatial information (also known as Geospatial, Geographic, Location-based information or location data) present in business analytics. Certain analysis demands integration of demographic and geographic details with business data to achieve the desired information.


Most of the key BI solution vendors have spatial enablement on their roadmap. However, the approach they are following is fragmented, not well structured or thought out.

Feasibility technical challenges are present in integrat- ing legacy information systems, developing a technology roadmap, and replacing and installing new solutions. The demand for integrating spatial capabilities with business analytics continues to rise as decision makers see the power and value of such solutions. In Part 1: Hello GIS, Meet Business Analytics, the challenge of GeoBI integration was discussed from a standards perspective. This article discusses the various business scenarios in which spatial integration can add business value to information systems, the current state of GeoBI integration challenges, and the way forward.

What Do Organizations Expect?

Every organization is unique. While established companies with pre-existing IT costs are constrained by legacy systems, new companies have more flexibility. Nonetheless, the most common expectations of business intelligence systems are business functionality and platform support.


Business Functionality

Before we look at the spatial dimension, it is important to understand how organizations use BI solutions. Across a number of dif-

ferent business scenarios, and across a variety of business questions that may arise, the typical benefits sought by businesses from a BI solution include the following:

  • --BI makes it easy to handle and analyze vast amounts of data from multiple sources, and to update that data regularly.
  • --BI enables faster analysis and decisions, and helps with executing timely corrective and preventive measures.
  • --BI helps in understanding customer behavior and enables relevant segmentation of an organization’s current and future customer base.
  • --BI effectively measures the key performance indicators (KPI) for different departments and positions within the organization.

Spatial technology is expected to enhance the BI objectives. Most large business operations are spread out geographically. GeoBI brings an integrated view of this information in a map and BI dashboard. Spatial technology enables a thematic analysis around various parameters for each geographical region. This helps decision makers to analyze information faster and make better decisions.

Customers are also spread out geographically. Understanding customer behavior becomes more intuitive and meaningful if integrated with regional, demographic and socio-economic information, and with competitive presence in an area. Typical customer engagement scenarios that benefit from spatial information include:

  • --Application of spatial predictive analysis using customers’ past buying and spending patterns, service performance and satisfaction, and other behavior patterns can determine a customer’s propensity to buy a particular product or brand.
  • --Spatial analysis helps organizations to take actions to retain and grow their customer base.
  • --For an organization offering multiple products, spatial analysis helps in identifying and increasing cross-sales opportunities, thus leading to higher profitability per customer.


Platform Support

With the developments and advancements in mobile technology, organizations are expecting solutions to be seamlessly deployed on mobile platforms. Mobile devices are the new norm for accessing and sharing information. Users want the same solution to be accessible from a Web browser or on a mobile device that is accessible from the office or remotely.


Security and authentication are definitely the most critical criteria in selecting the optimal architecture, but the ability to support the application on mobile devices is a more popular criteria. At the same time, the solution should be supported on cloud infrastructure. Many organizations are moving their select applications to cloud infrastructure or undertaking such testing so that the users can connect and use the applications from anywhere.


It is important that the selected solution be simple to use, and scalable to address future needs. It should also be cost-effective and sustainable for long-term use. Sustainability is specifically achieved when organizational processes and changes can be easily absorbed by the solution. These expectations ultimately guide an organization’s approach towards implementing a GeoBI solution.


Helping Organizations Define a GeoBI Approach

The path an organization chooses to harness the power and benefits of spatial information depends on its starting point. When it comes to requirements of GeoBI, organizations can be classified into four categories...

The complete article is available in the Fall 2012 Digital Edition of LBx Journal.