The domains of information management in companies, corporations and holdings are expanding. In addition to traditional applications based on information technologies for human resources management, finance or knowledge bases, many companies are encouraging to systematize information in order to accelerate sales or customer services in a same business stream.
GIS technologies have achieved widespread popularity within business intelligence information strategies in large corporations and companies of various sizes, especially in the supermarket sector, pharmacy services or Utilities. The phenomenon of geomarketing has begun to be incorporated in many marketing strategies. There are many corporations that boast of their advances in design, implementation and monitoring in their systems to cover and analyze the territories of the market they service.
However, this is frequently not a suitable solution for all budgets and strategies. To build a real "business geographic information system" means having significant investments, as well as lubricated processes; such as continuously updating the data uploaded in the system by the personnel sent to terrain, dealing with specialized equipment – such as gps units and its software - supervising field work in order to avoid inaccuracy and duplicity of geographic data, not to mention the necessary training and infrastructure for standardization, edition, organization and storage of geographical data.
For decades, direct access to geographical data has been almost exclusive attribution of system engineers and experts. This is now no longer so. People can access reliable and abundant geographic information in applications such as those provided by Google Earth, Bing, Arcgis.com or Open Street Map with their computers or even better from their smartphones. It is possible to know the location of customers and suppliers in exact time and place through applications that combine social networking and cartography, such as Foursquare.
It is currently even possible to access abundant information in many geographical online applications, through very good solutions for free or little cost. No need to hire qualified personnel: "neo geographers"; Internet customers and voluntary providers familiar with the terrain, can cooperate willingly enriching online maps. Of course, collaboration is done on web pages that only allow displaying information, not operating data, besides facing a strong limitation on the quality and quantity of usable information.
One of the current applications that attempts to operate and analyze data on the web - in addition to generating simple visualizations and practices - is CartoDB. It is a Spain based startup that also allows developing other geographic apps in a quick, powerful way and with a good interface.
The application has been successful in large organizations for its simplicity. Among others, NASA, the UN, the The Guardian newspaper, the Wall Street Journal or Newsweek magazine use it as an everyday tool in their publications. It's a platform that works in the cloud designed to visualize process and analyze geospatial data. Its value lies in that any user, regardless of their technical level can import data and display them in a map in seconds.
Adopting these modern solutions - although partial - or developing and implementing a more comprehensive geographic information system in a company should be linked to the organization´s business intelligence strategy. Besides budget considerations, it is important to ask to which extend the organization has learned from GIS and which are the technology skills available not only in technical levels but also in strategic stands as well as in the terrain positions. The trustworthiness that over its GIS the organization has and the ability to integrate processes of geographical nature with the core business of the company's are key aspects to substantiate a wise decision.