Ed. note: This article originally
appeared on Quocirca's website and reprinted here with permission
in a modified version.
GIS has long offered the capability to analyze geospatial data. The
power of geospatial analysis has not been ignored by business
intelligence vendors. Oracle Locator, for example, is part of Oracles
Database 10g and offers the functionality to manage spatial data.
Oracle Spatial provides capabilities for geocoding, routing, data
mining and spatial analysis. IBM also offers spatial capabilities with
DB2, through the Spatial Extender, based on ESRI technology. Pure play
BI vendors such as Business Objects, Hyperion, Information Builders and
SAS Institute have collaborated with ESRI to integrate geospatial
capabilities into their platforms. Similarly, both Cognos and
Microstrategy offer integration with MapInfo geospatial technology.
So with many BI vendors offering integration with geospatial
technology, how close are we to the location enabled enterprise?
MapInfo in particular aims to widen the adoption of its so called
location intelligence applications to mainstream business users.
Although its strongest sectors are retail and the public sector, it is
seeing the fastest growth in the financial services and insurance
markets, organizations which have not been traditional users of GIS.
The potential for business users to benefit from geospatial data
without having to be GIS specialists is significant. However, whilst
Business Intelligence (BI) is generally considered now to be more
valued at the strategic level, geospatial business applications are
largely still a tactical investment. The key challenge for
MapInfo and similar vendors is to demonstrate to the C level executives
the value of geospatial technology and how it can ultimately deliver a
competitive edge to their organisation, by enabling all levels within
an organisation to benefit from geospatial data.
In terms of technology, the future development of geospatial
applications will be primarily driven by service-oriented architectures
(SOA). For example, inventory control using RFID represents a real
opportunity to integrate real time data with geospatial technology.
Similarly, the ability to view geospatial data on mobile devices will
further boost the trend for requiring real time data. It is likely that
geospatial capabilities will be more easily and cost-effectively
integrated within enterprise systems that are based on SOA. By linking
geospatial applications to online databases, web services also improves
the updating of source geographic data which is often a time consuming
and expensive task. MapInfo is already addressing this area through
Envinsa, a scaleable web services platform for delivering mapping,
geocoding, routing and other enhanced spatial capabilities across the
enterprise. Envinsa is centrally managed, giving a consistent view of
data, and can make legacy systems more location aware by adding
geospatial functionality to any application which uses location
The future for the geospatial enabled enterprise may rest with the BI
and database vendors, and vendors such as MapInfo may gain more
traction in the enterprise market through building further on its
integration with database and mainstream BI tools. At the mass market
end, Google, Yahoo and MSN will continue to provide free geospatial
functionality, and the availability of Microsoft MapPoint at a low
price point will increase the awareness of geospatial analysis. Indeed,
both expense and ease of use are factors which may limit adoption of
geospatial applications across an enterprise. MapInfo will need to
decide if it wishes to complement the mass market offerings with its
own lower cost entry level product aimed at specific geospatial tasks.
This could enable it to open the door for further sales and increase
awareness of the benefits of enterprise wide geospatial technology.
After all, the technology is already here, the challenge is to educate
the enterprise about the commercial potential of applying geography to