Making decisions about a geographic information system (GIS) investment is a cumbersome process, regardless of industry or organization size. Whether you’re a municipality, natural resource company or GIS solutions provider, access to geospatial information within the context of your business is essential. However, building the most suitable implementation is a complex process. Throughout any geospatial development, there is also the duality between technology and data. Getting the balance between these two factors correct is powerful.

How then does an organization, big or small, streamline its decision-making process with confidence? How can it know that it is making the most informed decision for geospatial investment? For many companies, the answer is in data. Data-driven organizations are more likely than others to improve in decision making. If a company has a history of geospatial technology use, then that is the first place to look. The second place is observing where the organization wants to go. Both these questions come down to how people interact with geospatial technology.

Data is wonderful, but show me the insight.

We have all heard about the power of data, but with that comes the need to distill that data into meaningful observations. So, we have two essential tools to manage: the data about your business and visualizations which help you understand and question that data.

Moreover, getting useful insight, not just more data, is what allows an organization to move faster. But, to remain competitive, organizations must make decisions today on products and solutions that might be deployed two years from now. Quite a conundrum.

Usage data creates executive confidence.

It seems that many organizations feel their GIS stack can feel like a roadblock because of the months it can take to design and build a sound system. Sometimes it can be hard to separate out the implementation of a system from its use. Sometimes it seems as if a technology project never finishes. Completion can be a real problem if the project deviates from clearly identifying who the users are. An antidote is to build technology iteratively in partnership with a cohort of experienced past users ensuring the meeting of progressive expectations. This is the same for both buy and build technology investments. More so when implementing iterative development usage-data can be collected on the new product. With a focus on usage comes a direct metric of the success of the technology implementation. A management vector can then be drawn between the usage habits of the previous technology and that of the new technology.

Keeping the technology renewal process moving can be challenging. Demonstrating insight from collected usage data can help a technology team get and keep buy-in from senior stakeholders. Usage analytics from previous products compared with collected data during a technology renewal builds organizational confidence. This is essential for a technology leader to keep on investing.

Geospatial tools can help collect data, set benchmarks and get teams on the same page. They can then innovate with reliable information. Every organization gathers and uses data differently. However, no matter how geospatially-mature your organization is, you must still evaluate the effectiveness of a new geospatial investment. Usage data is one stepping stone to continued geospatial technology renewal.