Data is the new oil of the 21st century; currently, the best way to build your competitive advantage is by leveraging data. Companies that don’t rely on data when making business decisions will sooner or later disappear.
Data is the kind of information that proves to be necessary for effective management. Depending on your goal, you can visualize and use data in many ways: through different types of maps, GPS tracking, satellite imagery, geometric figures, or 3D graphics.
Importantly, spatial information works well when combined with other datasets. This creates a synergy and as a result, the informative value of a dataset combination greatly surpasses information brought by individual sets.
Thanks to their characteristics, spatial data can bring enormous value to the business management process, helping companies make quicker, more accurate decisions.
Business in the world of data excess
Before we dive into issues related to spatial data, it’s good to point out one of the present challenges of companies and organizations. They all collect vast amounts of information but often cannot use it in the right way.
This could remind you of using the public knowledge database we all know well – the Internet. You can find lots of useful data on the Internet… but searching for them is sometimes compared to rooting through the garbage. It’s possible to find some real gems on the Internet but only if you know where and how to search for them.
The same is true for data (also of the spatial type) that can help your company grow in the desired direction. Finding, selecting, and utilizing those data properly is a real challenge. The first tip that comes to mind is related to the famous Pareto principle.
Mobile network operators observe that about 20% of all their clients send nearly 80% of all SMS messages. The police statistics show that close to 80% of all road accidents are caused by only 20% of all drivers. There are some more applicable examples, too – a closer look at the business model adopted by many companies shows that 80% of their profits are generated by sales of 20% of the most popular products or services or the group of their 20% most engaged clients.
Of course, in reality, such proportions are not always a perfect 80/20. This is called the Pareto principle which states that 80% of results come from only 20% of the causes or invested efforts.
Business data follow this rule too. To minimize your effort and maximize the growth of your business, you need to make use of 20% of the most valuable, useful information.
But how can you access it?
How can you select data that’s valuable?
When you hear the name of a popular ”data-driven” approach, you possibly focus on the first word, “data”. However, when you seek information that could build a data-based foundation for your company, you should also pay attention to the other word, “driven”. It refers to actively taking action in your ventures.
Then, valuable, high-quality data (including spatial data) are predominantly the type of information, that allows you to operate more effectively and make more accurate business decisions. What do we actually mean when we say valuable data?
Reliable and accessible data
Whenever possible, people have always tried to make decisions based on available information.
Nowadays, we all have to deal with an excess of data about every possible topic. It’s easy to generate and share them so their accessibility poses no real problem. What remains a challenge is to determine the completeness, credibility, and usefulness of data. It’s not so easy to tell whether the information you have would make a good foundation for your decisions and actions. Incomplete, unreliable data cause an everyday problem for people who need to put them to work. Modern tech solutions provide means to collect data related to the operations of any company, no matter the industry. Moreover, they help to process and analyze these data so that they become a reliable source of knowledge, useful when making business decisions.
For example, a solution used by Visoro Group allowed the company to automate their process of collecting customer data by fieldwork employees.
This helped Visoro to minimize the human errors caused by manual data entry (e.g. spelling mistakes, incorrect values) into the company’s system. Moreover, the speed of the entire process got greatly accelerated.
Before, loading customer data from a single town would take 25 hours of manual work performed by several employees. It wasn’t error-free either. After introducing automation scripts, the same amount of data can be loaded into the company’s system in 2 minutes, which naturally brings up the second characteristic of valuable data.
Before the process automation, manual data entry would take:
(for a single town)
After data entry automation, the process takes:
(for a single town)
Currently, all companies try, at least to some extent, to use their data when making strategic decisions. However, usually, they receive the analysis results of those data with a delay. This means that the company’s reaction is also delayed and decisions are driven by outdated information. It greatly lowers the chances of achieving success or even surviving in the competitive, dynamic market.
This is true not only about strategic decisions. Decisions are made in different areas every day. In fact, all employees make dozens every day, for example, when talking to clients or answering e-mails. Each time, they are informed by available data.
What determines the value of data is how recent they are. It’s easy to say it, but it wasn’t long ago when humans started to achieve real-time data. It only became possible in recent times of increased access to data and tools that help process and analyze huge datasets.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. The Polish Transmission System Operator (Polskie Sieci Energetyczne) commissioned the Visimind company for a network inventory project. Visimind had to complete a very detailed inventory of the network objects and map their locations within energy lines and stations. The verification of the orthophoto map, Digital Terrain Model, and Digital Surface Model would take Visimind about 800 hours (over 33 days). After implementing the FME software that automates spatial data control, the same process would only take Visimind 25 hours.
Before implementing FME, the process would take:
about 800 hours
After implementing FME:
Many companies face the issue of collecting vast amounts of data in different systems and databases while lacking solutions to integrate them.
Insights that bring real business value and better decisions are often derived from the intersections of such databases. This is why it’s important to create such synergies. When there are no integrations, even complete, real-time data may remain useless. Therefore, solutions that integrate data from different sources play a crucial role in the process.
Here’s another example. Grupa MTP needed a solution that would allow them to quickly exchange various data formats. The company used different database technologies, including MS SQL Server Integration Services. They used a new platform that offered an option for simple integration with internal systems (e.g. CRM and ERP) as well as an intuitive graphic interface. This solution allowed Grupa MTP to collect and take control over all data in a single system.
After implementing FME
data from all systems are integrated and collected in a single system
Data that influence the decisions of all employees
Everyone would agree that data should be as complete and recent as possible. To use their full potential, they should also be integrated.
Some organizations may find this last idea quite controversial. They may argue that it’s related to excessive access to information that should be only used by the company management responsible for strategic decisions. There’s no denying the key role of management boards. However, in today’s dynamic business world, the most successful organizations maintain quite a flat organizational structure.
Every employee in any of the company departments makes decisions that cumulatively impact the entire organization. If those decisions are based on valuable data, they will be better and more accurate. Business success is built on thousands of such decisions.
Using the example of Grupa MTP, after implementing a spatial data integration platform, the company automated the information flow process. Their employees now receive frequent, recent, clear, and valuable reports and charts based on data from different databases.
Thanks to FME
the company automated the flow of key information
Spatial data and how you can use their potential
When talking about the value of spatial data, it’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t stem solely from the geographic factor. It’s also a result of their synergy with locations and other data crucial for the company’s operations.
For example, visualizing sociodemographic data about clients can bring invaluable insights into sales strategies. These data can tell you where particular age groups live or work, how exactly your sales can reach women or men, etc.
Commercial and service companies can make use of another type of spatial information. Considering their competition locations and expansion dynamics may be particularly helpful for these businesses, especially when they open a brand new store.
Of course, every organization is different and requires a specific management style and way of using spatial data. However, we can still outline several important steps common for all companies to be able to make the best business decisions. Here’s a useful scheme that can be adjusted when needed:
Integrate data from different sources, to create your own database with spatial relations and gain a synergy effect.
In practice: choose an adequate form to visualize your spatial data. This will allow you to clearly present information that would otherwise get lost in overloaded traditional data management systems.
Secure the data accuracy control – only then your decisions will be valid and justified.
In practice: the right platform integrating different databases lets you achieve the synergy effect while clear visualizations ensure you draw proper conclusions. An additional value is a resistance to errors in the data entry process and a lower risk of leaving out key information that may seem insignificant.
Analyze collected data and use them to draw conclusions
In practice: valuable data result in accurate conclusions, better business decisions, and more proper actions. To achieve this, you need real-time, error-free, fast, and integrated data.
Automate data acquisition within repetitive processes
In practice: modern platforms that improve data acquisition and integration use automation scripts to radically speed up the data entry process while minimizing the risk of errors.
Organize a simple way for sharing data with all decision makers
In practice: thanks to convenient access to all insights, reports, summaries, and visualizations, employees across the entire organization can make quick and accurate business decisions.
Try to visualize collected data through clear maps, reports, and charts
In practice: the excess of data is a well-known challenge for many companies. The only effective way to tackle this is by visualizing the intersections of different databases so that they’re easy to interpret. This facilitates the decision-making process.
Heading toward your company’s growth
It’s not easy to make the right business decisions and care about the company’s growth, even if the management board is convinced to build the foundation in data.
Usually, the most effective practice is using the experience of external business mentors. They can help to improve some processes and provide guidance in terms of data management.
Clever advice from an experienced partner is an investment that quickly returns as increased profits and minimized operating costs.
See the results achieved by companies that make use of their data: