What is GIS?

“Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support business decision-making by including a spatial component in the decision process. With GIS, businesses plan and make judgments based on more than the attributes of the business entities, but on their spatial properties as well. Although GIS gained its early adoption mostly in government, today it is expanding rapidly in business.”

That is a quote from author James Pick’s book titled, Geo-Business: GIS in the Digital Organization. [Pick] In it, Pick describes how GIS has become an indispensable tool of modern business as well as how spatially enabling your IT systems can give your organization a unique advantage. However, what is GIS? To answer that question, let’s break it down into it’s components, starting with the IS in GIS.

IS stands for Information Systems. An Information System is any organized system for the collection, organization, storage and communication of information. [IS Wiki] In essence, it is how we collect, filter, process, create and distribute data. GIS starts with the concept of IS and takes it to the next level by adding a way to visualize that information that information so that it can be analyzed more efficiently through georeferenced spatial data (maps tied to specific known locations).

According to the Environmental Systems Research Institute (AKA Esri), an international supplier of Geographic Information System (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications and whose software powers Google Maps, “A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends.” [Esri]

The world of GIS is large and ever expanding. There are a wealth of resources out there that organizations can and should tap into. GIS is an essential tool that organizations should be using in order to make better and more informed decisions. Please check out the links below to learn more about GIS and how it can help elevate your organization.


Andrew Bethel
DKB Strategies
Forging Tomorrow’s Business Solutions

Pick, J. P. (2008). Geo-business: Gis in the digital organization. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [Amazon link]
Information Systems (IS)
ESRI - What is GIS