Where GIS and BI (Business Intelligence) Mix
I’ve noted that of late, there’s been more of a mix between Geographic Information Systems and Business Intelligence systems. One of the last projects I worked on at a leading UK government agency whose remit is the environment (whoever that may be) was literally that: how geography is important in an organisation’s business knowledge.
I’m convinced that, in the private sector, it’s even more relevant. For years, we’ve battled with the statistic that 80% of information has a geographic bent. The thing that’s really important is that, now, we have a real handle on the importance of business information, intelligence and knowledge. In a way, it’s only now that we know the playing field well enough to make geography matter.
What do I mean by this?
In a data warehouse – the technical way that you implement high-speed retrieval of details and summary information – you consider optimising the retrival of the business information that you really need. Sales, products, owners, companies, and site. That last one, site (or location – however it’s expressed) – is the geography ‘bit’. It’s but one element in understanding information about your business, or in other words, where sales are happening, or where assets are being managed, or where units are being moved. In this respect, geography is still special. It’s but one dimension in the data warehouse, but it can be represented in a different way.
And this is where I think GIS will go in the longer term: it will be key in enabling businesses to tune themselves and to make those decisions: where to sell, where to manage, where to concentrate on particular asset types or conditions.
The marriage of GIS and BI isn’t complete yet, but it will start to go that way. For now, the two subindustries will continue to merge as requirements become obvious.