Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Importance of Spatial Data for ERPs and Enterprise Mobility

In field services, construction, engineering and other work in rugged environments there is a lot of data to be collected, stored and analyzed in order to complete a job and get paid for it.  This data has traditionally been collected using rugged laptops and other specialized data collection devices, but increasingly devices like consumer grade iPads are being utilized.  It is important to note that eighty percent of this data has a spatial component.

When collecting data, as in journalism, the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How matters. Those are the questions needed to complete work accurately, document and invoice it. That collected data often includes spatial data that is used by various solutions including CRM, CAD, engineering and surveying tools which are integrated with GIS, spatialNET, and other spatial software solutions.  Once the data is processed by these solutions it is shared again with those in the field using mobile devices. 

All of the contractors and sub-contractors working on projects in the field need data that accurately depicts the built environment; especially the parts buried, hung, or routed out of site.   As a result, any software UI (user interface) needs to intuitively connect the user to engineering drawings, spatial databases, and administrative forms. A construction and maintenance crew’s profitability is not measured by how much data they acquire and manipulate, but rather their metric of success is the built environment. 

Whatever software is in their tool kit must be able to access the databases used to model the built environment and provide complete office-to-field GIS, ERP and DMS integration without adding the burden of tedious training. It must also provide mobile and off-line functionality; as utility crews will need their data the most when connectivity is down.

Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.