Peter Hind, writing at CIO (Australia) highlights the potential value of census data for business and how it’s not being used. He notes that it’s not about the technology, but the data, in this story.
A few years ago one CIO beautifully illustrated this point to me. His organization managed advertising billboards, and one of the regular questions the sales staff encountered was how well could the use of this advertising medium help marketers reach their desired demographics. The CIO’s idea was to chart the site of the company billboards into a geographic information system (GIS) and to overlay the census data on top of this. The result was the company sales staff could then pinpoint the population make-up in the vicinity of each billboard. However, the CIO did not sell his executive on GIS. Instead he sold them on the advantages of harnessing the census.
This is a good, but subtle point. GIS users often need to translate the technology sales pitch they received from software vendors to the specific advantages/solutions for their organization. This is not necessarily easy and in many cases those same GIS vendors can help.