Why use maps?

Click image for Sydney Morning Herald article

A map is worth a thousand spreadsheets

Sophisticated techology to capture and analyse mapping data and relationships has been around for many years but it is only in the last year or two with Google Maps, GPS and Satellite navigation that it has been in the public eye. And the more the public sees (including decision makers in business and government), the more it wants because seeing information on a map makes sense.

Known by many different terms such as ‘Spatial information systems’ ‘Geographic Informations Systems’ GIS, and ‘location intelligence’ it is basically all about maps on a computer and all the things you can do with the underlying data – vehicle routing, combining different layers to understand trends and support decision making, analysing, reporting and simply visualising things so much more easily.

Mapping Front Ends for Data Warehouses

(From an article in Position Magazine)

Yellowfin dashboard screenshot

There is a ‘wow’ factor when executives see their everyday data presented for the first time with a map. For a telecommunications company it may be seeing a link between the amount of money spent by the marketing department and the busiest exchange, or being able to target those customers who are on exchanges with spare capacity and avoid offering others services their exchange cannot support.

For an agribusiness executive it may be seeing the impact of the amount and timing of fertiliser application on crop yield on a map derived from satellite imagery. For an insurance company it may be
seeing the location of their policy holders and the value of insured property located in the path of an approaching hurricane. Add to that the ability to spot potentially fraudulent claims after a hailstorm because the site of the damage is well away from the sites of other claims.

The service manager

Travel Times for Service Engineers

For those who are familiar with GIS, this is not rocket science. GIS professionals have been analysing business data and combining themes like this for years.

What is new is GIS in the boardroom and on the manager’s desk. Rather than asking the GIS specialist to generate a map, wait for it, look at it, realise it didn’t give all the answers and come back with a different question, decision makers can get their own answers. They can revise their search and
presentation criteria repeatedly. They can start with a map, drill through to other data sources and reports for more detail, select certain records from a table (for instance, sales revenue by product line Executive dashboard showing individual insurance claims colour-coded by policy value.within a state or territory) and create a new colour-coded map (this is known as bidirectional integration). They can also choose to receive email or SMS alerts if a value goes outside a predefined range. Screen images courtesy Pitney Bowes Business Insight.

Business intelligence in place (full article)