The Location Aware Enterprise: An Integrating Business Principle

By Susan Kalweit

The convergence of remote sensing and geospatial technologies with wireless and web technologies has created a significant opportunity for businesses - public and private - to leverage the power of geography and location with time to enable improved decision support, planning and operations.From small companies to large government agencies, the implications of this technology convergence on workforce mobility, tighter business integration, improved decision support, and with these the realization of economic return on investments are huge.The spatial technology industry stands at the doorsteps of being a catalyst to another "new economy" in the information age, one based on exploiting location and time for more effective business planning and operations.

At Booz Allen, we have termed the business value of this convergence the "Location Aware Enterprise." The term is meant to imply that executives and workers in decision-making roles or involved in business operations become fully informed (aware) by using location information to integrate multiple workflows and disparate databases across the enterprise.The implication for the geospatial technologies industry is that our services and products must become seamlessly part of the underlying information, systems and technology infrastructure and workflow processes of an organization.We must become part of the overall solution, not an add-on function or separate activity.

For hundreds of years, maps have been a useful means for communicating everything from plans for exploration and travel, or impact of change over time to an area or community, to military strategies and battlefield successes.A map is a comfortable context for people as it is a visual means of communication showing relationships among people, objects and geography that are readily understandable to human minds.It is, therefore, no wonder that location information can become the common communicating context for business in the information age.

Until recently, location technologies, mostly in the form of GISs and remote sensing systems, have been channeled in their own areas, kept as separate technologies and capabilities from finance systems, decision-support systems, sales and inventory systems, etc.Geospatial technologies were mostly in use by academia, scientists and government. However, broadband availability, smaller computing devices, an abundance of geospatial data, and the web have now made it possible to use the power of location as an integrating force in business at the desktop and palmtop of executives and workers anywhere at any time.This is what the Location Aware Enterprise is about.And, this is what the geospatial technology industry is challenged to support.

We have defined five service areas for helping businesses realize the benefits of becoming a Location Aware Enterprise.These service areas are:

Organizational Design and Change Management
  • Making partnerships work
  • Organizational transformation
Enterprise Architecture
  • Architecture concepts and views
  • Systems design, engineering, standards and interoperability
  • Capital investment planning
Information Architecture and Knowledge Management
  • Data collection, acquisition planning and security
  • Data modeling and design
Analysis and Visualization
  • Emergency preparedness, planning and consequence management
  • Situational awareness, command and control
  • Key asset management, risk assessment and mitigation
Economic Business Analysis
  • Funding models
  • Return On Investment
In subsequent articles, we will describe each of these services and their impact on helping organizations become location aware enterprises.However, these services alone are insufficient to effect the economic change the geospatial technology industry has the potential to create in the market place.It is in the hands of the geospatial technology industry to drive how far and how fast the market supports location aware enterprises in every sector of the economy.We must think, talk and act enterprise-wide in the broadest business context possible.This is the challenge I put forward as we begin planning for the second annual Location Technologies and Business Intelligence conference.

Published Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

Written by Susan Kalweit

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