Location Intelligence, Spatial Data Analysis | Pitney Bowes

Hybrid environments: hype or happening?

What you need to know about this growing Location Intelligence trend

by Dave Andrews

According to the 2017 Global Geospatial Outlook Report published by Geospatial Media and Communications, 40 percent of geographic information systems (GIS) users say ‘lack of trained geospatial manpower’ is hindering expanded use of geospatial technology.

Of course, this makes sense to anyone who has tried to learn these systems, not to mention those trying to become versed in the highly-specialized associated terminology familiar to just a small set of users. Often, organizations fail to achieve the full benefit of these systems, having either pursued alternatives that promise to deliver the functionality and insight of traditional GIS, or simply moved on to other seemingly more achievable objectives. As a result, GIS professionals are often frustrated by this trajectory, as they know instinctively how transformational location intelligence can be, but have had to accept the pitfalls of their current implementations.

Today’s business intelligence (BI) solutions tout mapping as a competitive advantage, yet deliver only rudimentary functionality. Location intelligence is significantly more than just a map, and often these applications fall short of truly providing key insights without the support of a true GIS system. Knowledge workers across the organization are therefore left wanting better mapping and analytic capabilities, and better data to enable them.

What has prompted the move to integrate more location technology? Big data, IOT and mobile apps present the opportunity and challenge for traditional business intelligence functions to leverage location-based data to derive new insights. While analysts and data scientists were always equipped to answer questions about ‘what’ was happening, location provides the context of ‘why’ to uncover patterns that can predict future behavior, or see new opportunities from a broader understanding of the environment an activity is happening within. While this is precisely the information organizations need to drive their digital transformation strategies, most have only just scratched the surface on these questions. ‘Hybrid’ GIS environments are the solution.

Just as mobile technologies with simple interfaces brought maps to the masses, information technology, BI and GIS professionals need to approach the problem from the perspective of the consumers in their organization. Hybrid systems that combine analytics, geographic visualizations and data from any source bring the ‘GIS stack’ to knowledge workers, not the other way around. While there is still a learning curve in this scenario, it’s not nearly as steep as learning a totally different toolset and lexicon. Plus, organizations don’t need to write-off the years of investment in those monolithic systems. In fact, this practice opens the door to increased value via reduced cost, reduced supplier risk, increased operability/functionality, and business continuity.

While new point solutions are emerging, it’s important for organizations to consider how to futureproof the systems they deploy, particularly as they become relied upon broadly. Delivering more holistic capabilities requires both a deep understanding of the underlying systems and science, and how knowledge workers do their jobs. Great user experience design facilitated by industrial anthropologists can make it all work together across the organization, driving much higher ROI than less integrated, crowd-sourced approaches.

Suppliers like Pitney Bowes have decades of experience in GIS and enabling knowledge workers, making the hybrid system simple, achievable and lower risk. With roots in supporting the entire enterprise with data quality, location intelligence, and communications solutions, our clients have diverse backgrounds and needs. But what unifies them is the impact they are achieving at speed. We help them connect disparate data sources across the enterprise without intensive IT efforts. A comprehensive set of data and thoughtful product offerings turn GIS into true Location Intelligence.

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