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One of the biggest criticisms of GIS professionals is typically that GIS is an underused technology and as such the professionals feel frustrated that they only get to use it in very limited situations such as basic map generation.

What are the top unsung business benefits that can be brought by GIS? This leads onto the next logical step of "How to sell GIS to a business".

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In Numerous situations a GIS system could be a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, or GIS would be expensive to replace. Sometimes the efficiencies of GIS have a higher operation and maintenance cost than non-GIS –  dassouki Aug 11 '10 at 17:13
    
removed gis tag; it's "meta" for this site: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags –  JasonBirch Aug 13 '10 at 23:01
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Top intangible business benefit of geographic information: providing context.

ESRI has a webpage about business benefits and return on investment of GIS: http://roi.esri.com, and the discussion is largely platform agnostic.

That page and an associated book, "Business Benefits of GIS" authored by David Maguire (ESRI), Victoria Kouyoumjian (ESRI), and Ross Smith (PA Consulting), identify the following benefits:

  • Saving Time;
  • Increasing Efficiency;
  • Increasing Accuracy;
  • Increasing Productivity;
  • Automating/Improving Workflow;
  • Reducing Costs/Saving Money;
  • Managing Resources Better to Improve Existing Operations;
  • Improving Quality, Efficiency and Service;
  • Reducing Costs and Increasing Direct Marketing Precision;
  • Supporting Informed Decision-making; and
  • Increasing Communication and Collaboration.

The following pdf document (in this doc, written in regard to public organizations and utilities) offers brief sketch use cases on how these objectives might be accomplished: http://downloads2.esri.com/ROI/docs/ChapterTwo_ToolsTemplates/Benefits_Table_Examples.pdf

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We've found that spatially enabling data that has just been sitting around in databases for years and years allows us to QC the data. You can look at lat/longs in a table all day long and the numbers are just numbers (to most people). Put those locations on map and all of the sudden you can see errors in your data in ways that were never possible before (That point should be here and not there!).

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The "Business Benefits of GIS: An ROI Approach" is in fact an end-to-end approach for building a 3 year Strategic Plan, Budget forecast (capex/opex) and Roadmap. It's focus is not really on "ROI" from a numeric perspective, although clearly that's a part of the equation and we provide guidance/tools to calculate NPV/IRR etc, but more on 'winning hearts and minds' when trying to convince/prove/sell the value to executives and front-line staff alike.

There are a number of other articles and whitepapers I've written on this topic so feel free to drop me an email if you're after anything specific in terms of insight/approaches. LinkedIN http://www.linkedin.com/in/rosstsmith

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