GIS exists to satisfy business needs and solve business challenges. Often technologists and business people alike assume that the other’s discipline has nothing to do with their own, when the two are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent: Your business needs dictate how technology is leveraged, and technology prescribes solutions to those needs.
Connecting business with technology will help you drive greater success for your organization, communicate the value of GIS to your executive sponsors, justify your budget, and identify and prioritize projects you should be focusing your efforts on.
Adopt a ‘Business First’ Philosophy
It’s crucial to begin with the business first. Since the goal is to most effectively support your organization with GIS technology, you need to make sure you have a clear and concrete understanding of what people are trying to accomplish. Start by identifying challenges. For example:
"Our vacant lots post health and safety risks, and we don’t fully understand the scope of the problem,or how to address or communicate these risks to the public.”
Notice the absence of data, maps, and apps in that statement- you want business challenges, not technology challenges. Determine which are most urgent to your executive sponsor(s) to help you prioritize your work.
Capabilities of GIS
There is a set of common ways GIS is used, or patterns, that exist across industries that describe geospatial capabilities: Mapping & Visualization, Data Management, Field Mobility, Monitoring, Analytics, Design & Planning, Decision Support, Constituent Engagement, and Sharing & Collaborating. These are also business capabilities, which make them a powerful framework for connecting business with technology. Use them to associate GIS with your organization’s needs.
The Patterns of Use Establish Connections
Weave these capabilities together to address the business challenges you’ve identified. Don’t just talk about maps. Talk in terms of understanding which neighborhoods the vacant lots are in, and how they are dispersed. Explain how GIS enables insight into the demographics and socioeconomic characteristics of the people affected. Show them patterns and relationships between the vacant lots and other variables like 311 calls, health information, and development activity. Enable people to visualize and evaluate development scenarios to proactively address the problem.
Leverage the Patterns of Use to draw connections between what people are trying to accomplish and the interconnected capabilities of GIS that enable organizations to see what others can't.
If you're interested in learning more about the ArcGIS Patterns of Use, you can read more in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper.