Understanding the Role of Geospatial Insight in Digital Transformation
As MD of emapsite, I’ve found that despite the year-on-year increase in the use of ‘Geospatial Insight’ across various industries such as Telecommunications, Insurance, Energy, Utilities, and Infrastructure, to the uninitiated, it can be an inherently difficult concept to grasp.
This sometimes poses an issue when it comes to factoring use cases into any digital transformation strategy as, for some, it can be a relatively “unknown beast”. This is also especially true when attempting to weigh any perceived risks and associated costs to a business’s digital transformation, against the clear benefits that geospatial data can provide.
It doesn’t need to be a difficult concept though.
We’ve been supplying mapping, providing geospatial insights, and sourcing location data that have provided valuable answers to business-critical questions for over 20 years. As well as that, as a small, flexible, and very capable agile business, my team have the knowhow, in addition to the tech.
We also know a good thing or two about supporting businesses in the innovative leveraging of geospatial data for their own digital transformation strategy, while also helping them to reduce waste and impact on the environment through our sustainable processes.
We get that being a ‘corporate pioneer’ is always going to be a challenge, and we very often help our own customers by providing some reassurance that the cost, risk, and outcome equation is known and acceptable.
So, first off, what is ‘Geospatial Insight’ really?
Using IBM’s definition; geospatial insight, or in short, the data “…is information that describes objects, events or other features with a location on or near the surface of the earth”.
Armed with this information though, you may find yourself asking; “Well, isn't that every piece of information that exists?” And well, yes, you'd be completely right.
The information that we’re referring to here could be information about any object. But, if you think through the usefulness of that information, then quite quickly you begin to realise that knowing that an object exists, as well as knowing its broad location, is only of so much use to anyone.
Soon it becomes quite obvious that a more accurate understanding of its location may well be useful. For example, to say that a shop is located in Slough, is of some interest and usefulness, but to say it is at ‘x’ High Street is more useful if you’re actually trying to find it.
Where geospatial data really comes into its own though is when the location of an object is mathematically extractable relative to other items. This benefit of highly accurate positioning is the key thing that provides businesses with the opportunity to create insight from the interrelationship between the objects and the distance between them.
With this information you can calculate risk or cost, as proximity is of significant importance in predicting the cost of failure, or the cost of maintenance. The broad term ‘location insight’ is simply clever language for this whole concept.
What value does geospatial data deliver in digital transformation?
Digital transformation is such a broad description of business change that it’s actually quite hard to generalise the value derived from it. Instead, if you think about the challenges that come from businesses not having fully embraced their own digital transformation, the value of geospatial data becomes more apparent.
For these types of businesses, they usually go through a series of business activities always managed by ‘local intelligence’ e.g., having people visit a place in order to carry out a business process. This could also include those more end-to-end digital businesses who could potentially save money and time by better organising their in-the-field assets.
For businesses managing widely dispersed assets, such as those in Energy, Utilities, Telecommunications, or Infrastructure, the planning of maintenance activity may involve many moving parts: contracts, contractors, time, risk, peril, safety, legal responsibility, and so on. By ‘geocoding’ that data, they’re then able to track many objects or assets being moved from one place to another easily - helping to improve the quality and efficiency of their work.
For other industries, such as those in Insurance for example, the preparation of their data into more accurate and unified geospatial arrangements can also be invaluable. The way that’s achieved is by improving the overall risk profile of their insured book. This is done by using combinations of data to build a more comprehensive view of the level of risk associated with each quote they create.
In short, if you can digitally track many objects or assets being moved from one place to another, or use the data to create an ever more accurate risk model, this can make a substantial difference to the effectiveness of your business.
In many cases, and for most of emapsite’s customers, this is the value of geospatial data; having the competitive advantage between those with greater insight, over those with only more generalised data.
How has the shift to the cloud and ‘edge computing’ impacted the leveraging of geospatial data, and what are the business benefits?
The shift to cloud and edge computing simply accelerates an existing trend.
Now, for those unaware of what ‘edge computing’ is; it refers to the processing, analysing, and storing of data closer to where it’s generated in order to enable rapid, near real-time analysis and response.
Both of these methods provide more companies – largely SMEs – with the opportunity to use the sort of computing power that was, just a few years ago, available to the very largest of organisations.
This democratisation of computer power allows nimble companies to provide a series of innovations to others while they perhaps focus on resolving their legacy technology challenges. Very often the use of geospatial data is combined with heavy photographic or other complex data, making the manipulation of the combined data sets require a very high level of computing capability.
What are key considerations when leveraging geospatial data within a digital transformation strategy?
The key considerations for a business when leveraging geospatial data within a digital transformation strategy are no different than any other investment rationale.
The challenge many of our customers face is that they can't comprehend the cost of the challenge, nor the value of the result. Therefore, the energy with which internal innovators start their projects very soon falters when some of the financial parameters are unclear. In such scenarios, we provide clarity that the relationship between cost, risk and outcome is well established and acceptable.
So, how can emapsite assist my company?
At emapsite, we partner with companies to optimise the use of their assets, also reducing waste and impact on the environment through innovative leveraging of enriched location data. We’re a values-driven organisation and our solutions support our customers to drive towards ‘net zero’ emissions.
Our sweet spot is that we’re small and agile, and our team of highly specialist location data experts deliver unique insights through predictive modelling and deep cross sector expertise. Thanks to this experience, we can dynamically anticipate and respond to your current and future needs, allowing you the ongoing scalability to deliver on sustainable growth.
In a nutshell, we leverage location data and insight that others can’t see, all in order to help you to build the competitive advantage in your space.
Find out a little bit more about our enriched data and geospatial insight solutions.
Rich Pawlyn is Managing Director at emapsite, with over two decades' expertise in solving, scaling and building geo-data intelligence solutions.