Access to, and extensive understanding of, various information can be a game-changer when it comes to running a business. Because of that, many companies invest in tools and technologies to help them analyse valuable information that otherwise would be left unutilised.
One example of this type of technology is the Geographic Information System (GIS) that provides users with various geospatial data. This information can be used as the basis of planning and management strategies to further improve your business. But, how can you implement this technology in your venture?
In this article, we will look further into the definition of GIS, how to use it in your business, and talk about several examples of GIS-based software that could help you out.
What Is GIS?
Geographic Information Systems is a technology related to any informational data about a geographic location. This spatial information lets users understand and problem-solve relationships, patterns, and trends within a specific area.
Most GIS software works by displaying geographical imagery in the form of cartographic, photographic, digital, or spreadsheet data. This technology has become commonly used in various sectors like city development, navigation, and business.
GIS can provide you with useful data to improve various aspects of your business. Even the simplified version of GIS technology such as Google Maps or Waze can help you conduct some business processes more efficiently. Here, we will dive deeper into how GIS can help you improve your business.
Using GIS to Improve Your Business
GIS has a wide range of functionality and can be used in various business processes, ranging from marketing strategies to technical processes like logistics and delivery route efficiency.
Let’s take a look at five ways to utilise GIS to improve your business.
1. Identify Brand Preferences
Some GIS applications can be used to identify the population’s buying habits and brand preferences within a specific geographic area. Brand preference is essential because it helps you predict customers’ loyalty, the best marketing tactics, and the strength of your brand. The Marketing Science Institute (MSI) study found that superior brand preferences can influence price premiums of 26% on average, even when brand quality is the same. This shows how understanding brand preferences can improve your chances of having a successful campaign.
Keep in mind that brand preferences can’t be built overnight. You have to follow a set of methods to develop a fine-tuned brand preference within your target market. However, it is a good idea to evaluate your potential using GIS before deciding where to build your brand.
2. Analyse Customer Segmentation
Understanding customer’s backgrounds and characteristics are essential when building a business. People tend to have different needs and preferences depending on where they live.
Therefore, your company needs to organise a clear customer segmentation by conducting geospatial analytics.
Using GIS lets you extract customer data based on demographics, socioeconomic background, and location. With this information, your team can develop targeted marketing strategies to engage existing customers better and gain more attention from new audiences.
3. Improve Business Logistics and Supply Chain
Extensive knowledge about your area plays an important role in logistics and supply chain efficiency. GIS helps you identify areas with the heaviest demand and shows where to place your storage or manufacturing plant for the most efficiency.
GIS also lets you optimise delivery routes and accelerate shipping times. Some navigation applications like Waze can help you determine the most efficient route based on distances, speed limits, and traffic signal locations.
This is very important, especially if your business is located in a large city with heavy traffic. Since around 80% of online shoppers expect same-day delivery, an efficient shipping system can really benefit your business.
4. Asset Management
Good asset management and preventive maintenance strategy let businesses maximise an asset’s useful life and avoid unplanned downtimes. A survey showed that preventative maintenance is the top priority for 80% of maintenance personnel.
GIS mapping lets companies conduct preventive maintenance by identifying the most cost-effective way to use, manage, and replace their assets. Construction, utilities, and energy companies that typically own numerous physical assets may use features like real-time asset monitoring from GIS software.
GPS tracking offered by some GIS solutions lets you track the location of technicians while they are on duty. Some software also has 3-D visualisation that lets you create 3-D models of your assets and buildings to visualise their location and condition better.
5. Conduct Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is a process of identifying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and comparing them with your own. Based on this analysis, a business can identify opportunities for growth and discover the best strategies in order to thrive in the industry.
GIS mapping can help you visualise competitors’ business movements and their areas of influence. This data can be used as a basis for various business decisions, such as the best location to place a shop while avoiding strong competitors.
Example of GIS Software for Business
There are numerous GIS solutions available in the market to help your business improve its operations and growth. Let’s take a look at four recommended software you should consider.
Google Maps is arguably the most popular option when it comes to digital mapping platforms. It has various useful features such as driving directions, Street View panorama, and various styles of maps.
The cost for using Google Maps API on your website might vary depending on the number of requests you get. For example, a static maps solution is £1.50 per 1000 requests, and anything below that won’t cost you anything.
BatchGeo is a GIS tool that lets you create maps with your spreadsheet data. It accepts addresses, intersections, cities, states, and postal codes. Some features offered by BatchGeo including map badges, map grouping, and website integration.
BatchGeo Pro is available for £72/month, but it also offers a free tool if you want to check out some of the basic features.
Salesforce Maps is a location intelligence tool with useful features like live tracking, route optimization, and territory planning. It can help your company plan and manage business more efficiently using various geospatial data.
The basic version of Salesforce Maps is available for £55/month for each user. However, the advanced version and some addons are available for additional costs.
QGIS is an open-source GIS software to help you visualise, manage, edit, analyse data, and compose printable maps. It also has various plugins that further expand its functionality. QGIS is available for desktop, server, web client, and mobile devices.
GIS can provide companies with various valuable information regarding their market location to further improve their business processes. This data is valuable when used as a basis for business planning and other administrative tasks.
In this article, we talked about five ways GIS can improve your business, including:
- Identify brand preferences
- Analyse customer segmentation
- Improve business logistics and supply chain
- Asset management
- Conduct competitive analysis
We also looked at four examples of GIS software you might want to consider for your business process.
The opportunities available when using GIS can be limitless. As technological development continues, the potential applications of GIS for business are likely to also grow exponentially.