Making data location-aware at first capture

It's not just real estate that's all about location.

Location-aware applications such as online locaters, complete with on-the-fly maps and driving directions, are common today on enterprise Web sites—if customers can't find you, they can't buy your product or service.

"What we're seeing in geospatial technology is spatial data-enabling of enterprise systems," says David Sonnen, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass.

Location—and the geospatial data that describes it—is playing a growing role in nearly every aspect of business and IT, such as customer relationship management and supply chain management, says Sonnen.

"It starts with transaction management," he says. Many companies today are geocoding, or attaching addresses, to transaction data before it becomes part of a database. "Once it's there, it becomes part of the operational system for things like dispatching and workflow or business systems support," Sonnen says.

Companies such as MapInfo Corp. and Vicinity Corp. have been working with companies to add location-awareness to data and systems, Sonnen says.

With Microsoft Corp.'s recently released MapPoint .Net service, "we're going to see an even greater strategy of moving spatial technology from a specific area in the enterprise into the broader enterprise environment," he says.

Making geospatial technology available as a service or allowing it to be embedded in core business applications is a shrewd move by Microsoft and could present a good opportunity for developers to add location-awareness to their software, Sonnen says.

"As technology gets to be more like what we do in our daily lives, location information will become part of our day-to-day lives. Geospatial information has to become ubiquitous because data will have to know where it is in order to function in that world," says Sonnen.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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