The “IT Geo-Evolution”- The Evolution of Geospatial Technology in IT
Right now is the most exciting time to be
an information technologist for the information technology (IT)
industry.In the past, IT departments were only for ordering
hardware, installing networks, setting up computers, loading software
and staffing a help desk.Those times are behind us.Pick up any
IT publication and the headlines are about how IT must improve service
to support overall business decisions.
The leading IT organizations are repositioning themselves as a critical
component in an organization to support more effective and efficient
business decisions.All IT functions are still intact, but IT
departments are stepping up to the latest challenges of finding the
most innovative ways to collect, store, distribute and retain archives
of all the precious data needed to fuel analysis for making
How can IT support critical business systems with all the information
needed to steer business forward? The answer is geographic
visualization of critical business resources.Simply put, this means
including location visualization on critical business assets for an
organization's planning decisions.
Why is location visualization and analysis so important? When an
organization can see the locations of scheduled infrastructure
maintenance, crews can be dispersed optimally to save labor hours and
travel time.Public information and interdepartmental activities can
all be viewed and coordinated more easily with a map.For example, in
the case of road pavement projects, clustering the work in adjacent
city blocks offers huge time and monetary savings.When an organization
reviews suppliers or potential suppliers, location analysis should be
included to more accurately determine shipment costs and planning.
IT departments are moving forward to support map location
visualization, or geo-evolution, of organizations' critical assets by
using open data storage standards for spatial and non-spatial data.
This doesn't mean IT is collecting this critical new data type, but
they must provide a method for storage that is central to all business
systems in the corporate enterprise.The inclusion of geospatial data
accessible to an entire business infrastructure brings geospatial into
mainstream IT and out to decision makers.
Some corporate executives might say they have a fully functional
inventory or asset management system providing all the value needed.
But if that system doesn't include geospatial locations for asset
visualization, it's only half of a complete decision support system.If
the system includes a street address, warehouse bin location, or an x,y
coordinate on the earth, it's three-quarters of a complete system.A
complete system includes the ability to visualize asset locations on a
map and spatially analyze all similar and available resources in the
vicinity.This provides the information necessary to research the
optimal way to improve, maintain, or plan for new assets.Where the
excitement begins is that all aspects of a complete visualization
solution are achievable today.
A recent industry survey conducted by a geospatial vendor revealed 95
percent of all executives believe the most important component of an
asset management system is the ability to visualize all the assets on a
map.When you think about it, what executive wants to read about asset
locations when they can be presented on a map? When an executive
requests a capital plan they should expect, or even demand that
location visualization be included in the analysis and planning.Seeing
the location of an asset offers so much more than just the description
and value.With the ability to visualize locations and geographic
clustering, decisions can be made about access, distribution, and
maintenance, taking into account other assets that have similar needs.
Hence all work related to closely located assets could be completed
more efficiently and therefore more cost effectively.
The other aspect of this geo-evolution is simply the next step in the
evolution of information technology, as technology closely models how
our human minds work.Information technology was initially based on how
we think, add, subtract, and record data and words.Now this has
broadened into the geo-evolution, bringing us closer to how our minds
visualize our world.
There are those who say timing is everything.While timing is important
to any project, IT managers are learning that a critical aspect of
project management is visualization within costly capital planning,
research, and analysis.In today's world, every company should be
striving to know the location of all their tangible assets or business
resources.Some are on the right path, but there are many that still
don't recognize the value.
Many in the transportation industry have understood the strategic value
of location visualization from the industry's inception.Referencing
all assets to a road network is a key technology considered mandatory
for decision support.As the rest of the business world discovers this
valuable data type, they will also begin to experience the incredible
cost savings associated with decisions based on location intelligence.
I encourage all IT professionals to follow the example of leading IT
organizations and include location data storage, maintenance,
transaction processing and distribution in service improvement plans
for 2005 for all departments to share.If you don't plan ahead you run
the risk of having to retrofit your plans to include it, thus limiting
it's cost effectiveness.Your goal should be to provide all data
possible to support analysis for every business decision to keep your
organization on the leading edge.
Published Saturday, February 5th, 2005