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Barbara Shields

Similar to a nervous system, enterprise technology is used to gather information from many sources and process it for decision making.

For example, a user can work with an organization’s enterprise technology to gather information from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, an accounting system, Web services, customer service systems, a geographic information system (GIS), and other systems and then process it for authoring reports, creating predictive models, generating intelligent maps, and so forth. Management can use these outputs for evaluation, strategizing, and policy making efforts. Furthermore, enterprise technology can be accessed by many people within the organization for a wide variety of purposes. The system allows users to share this information, often by distributing it on the Web, so that other people can benefit from the data, outputs, or even the system’s work process applications. Because of the advancement of Internet technologies and the global data explosion phenomena, a variety of enterprise technology configurations have come to the forefront for organizational planning and work processes. Enterprise technology has become a fast-growing industry, and with its burgeoning adoption, the term enterprise technology is a bit fuzzy. Differentiations may include key core technologies, infrastructure, configurations, depth of system integrations, level of workflow integration, and even shareholder types.

Many organizations, such as utilities, local governments, and cadastral agencies, find that a geocentric enterprise technology approach is a good fit. This means that they rely on GIS to achieve their business objectives and have placed GIS as a core component within their enterprise technology system. They may use these GIS technologies to perform tasks such as facilities and asset management, land records management, market analysis, business site location assessment, and fleet routing. Geocentric enterprise systems are generally found in multidepartment organizations and integrated with other enterprise systems.

India’s Reliance Communications Limited (RCOM) employs GIS-based geocentric enterprise technology for achieving its business goals. RCOM is just one of the businesses within the Reliance Group, a diversified company that applies GIS throughout its operations including telecommunications, energy services, oil and gas exploration, entertainment, health care, and insurance businesses. The enterprisewide GIS provides the Reliance Group with open data access, which has increased staff productivity and drives the company’s competitive advantage in its various markets.

RCOM is India’s foremost telecommunications service provider, ranking among the top 10 Asian telecom companies by number of customers. In 2001, ESRI and Telcordia Technologies worked with RCOM to define and implement an enterprise GIS to manage its telecommunications network infrastructure and associated land base for its countrywide service area. GIS enables RCOM employees to produce and maintain a comprehensive geodatabase containing information about network facilities, buildings, boundaries, and roads as well as customer locations and sales and marketing data. All data is stored in a seamless geodatabase using ArcGIS Server technology and Oracle. The resulting data is then made available to various departments via the corporate intranet. Enterprise technology is often essential to achieving the organization’s goals and frequently delivers a high return on investment (ROI). RCOM’s GIS enterprise technology does just that. The company’s managers claim GIS has improved productivity and overall efficiency through streamlined work processes and a wide array of GIS-based applications. The system eliminates the need for multiple applications and data formats and provides an open, easy-to-use platform for employees to use in their work routines.

Today, RCOM’s network planning and engineering, construction, operations and maintenance, business, and customer care groups all use the company’s enterprise GIS technology extensively. Fiber engineering uses the Telcordia Network Engineer product for fiber network design, engineering, and construction activities. The operations department uses ArcGIS products to locate fiber cable cuts and to dispatch repair crews. Customer care uses ArcGIS Server to access data and deliver maps and reports during the service activation/provision process. As its network grows, the company will offer location-based services and other enhanced services to its customers. Using ArcGIS Server, the company has also implemented Automated Network Planner, which is an application that supports a large number of network support activities via the Web. Geospatially enabled enterprise technology enhances enterprise systems with geospatial capabilities for tasks involved with, for example, work management, business intelligence, and supply chain management. Here GIS is an information technology infrastructure infusing geographic intelligence (maps, analysis, and data) into other applications. This requires a standardsbased GIS with a high level of interoperability.

An example of an organization that employs a geospatially enabled enterprise approach is Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The South Korea power provider implemented a professionally designed transmission geographic information system (TGIS) to manage its transmission-related facilities. This system includes a spatial database and related applications that are integrated into all the company’s electrical transmission data including maintenance history and available resources. The system has led to greater efficiency and cost savings for the company.

TGIS, built on ArcGIS, is composed of five primary applications for management of basemaps and overhead/ underground transmission facilities, system management, and online facility data search. The spatial database contains all electrical transmission infrastructure and facilities information including implementation and modification history and connection information. The system also maintains details regarding the availability of nearby resources for maintenance and repair projects. TGIS has facilitated the integration of all of KEPCO’s transmission- related data.

The company’s managers are using TGIS to make much better day-to-day and long-term decisions. For example, they use the system to determine when an existing facility should be replaced, what is needed to supply stable electricity to a region, or how many transmission lines will be required in an electrical supply plan. GIS supplies systemic data, supports an integrative framework, provides analytic schemes, and outputs understandable geographic visualizations about operations. This enterprise technology extends the company’s capabilities so that others can leverage the system. For instance, the Korea Electric Power Data Network, one of KEPCO’s subsidiaries, has developed links from TGIS to other systems for facility planning and maintenance as well as construction and operation management. Moreover, the spatial database is available to other government agencies for a nationwide geographic information-sharing project.

To branch out through a variety of business operations, enterprise technology must be scalable for growth, standards based so that it can communicate with a multitude of programs, and interoperable to work with many types of data. With more than 34,000 employees, KEPCO continues to move GIS into additional hands in its workforce. The company continues to expand its enterprise technology capabilities to further meet diverse business and engineering needs now and in the future. This plan includes more integration with management systems, Web-based GIS services, and TGIS data and applications available on the Web, via ESRI’s ArcGIS Server technology. The result will be an open, scalable, and standards-based GIS architecture that integrates and leverages existing information technology resources. All staff members needing transmission data will easily be able to find, review, and edit that data from their local computers without the need to install additional software. Senior managers at the company anticipate that the Webbased GIS will lead to significant cost savings and make KEPCO’s work processes more efficient and seamless.

The next generation of geocentric enterprise technology has arrived with enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA)-based GIS. This is a method of building business applications by using common online services to support business functions. SOA provides data access from the consumer, a data catalog, or a provider. It allows the user to find, consume, and publish the data. This is the consume/author/serve model wherein the user accesses data from a variety of resources, authors the document, then disseminates it into a shared environment. The SOA-based GIS enterprise environment is initially more expensive than traditional approaches of desktop and centralized systems, but it is, on average, 30 percent more cost-effective over time. Businesses considering a move to the SOA approach are weighing the differences between its challenges and benefits. The challenges are high startup costs, evolving standards, and substantial information technology infrastructure demands. The benefits are greater business involvement in the design of IT systems and related business processes, improved resource utilization, consistency, support for progressive and flexible policy implementation, and eventual cost savings. Organizations that have already adopted SOA-based GIS enterprise technology reported the following key drivers for their decisions:

  • Increased agility to rapidly forge collaborative groups and accelerate the decision cycle
  • Integrated disconnected GIS applications and/or integration of GIS with other enterprise applications
  • Reduced data redundancy and overlapping development efforts
  • Extended geospatial capabilities to non-GIS specialists
  • Improved ROI on GIS investments

No matter which enterprise technology approach is adopted, organizations reap substantial RoI.