Academic journal article Indian Journal of Economics and Business

Using GIS to Identify New Venture Opportunity

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Economics and Business

Using GIS to Identify New Venture Opportunity

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper discusses the effectiveness of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) literacy as a teaching methodology in an undergraduate business plan course. The geovisualization of the critical elements needed for opportunity assessment facilitates greater understanding by student of the inter-relationships, contributing to enhanced gap analysis and increased effectiveness in the identification of new venture opportunities. The dyadic relationship between business faculty and library specialists is also recognized as being critical to the integration of GIS literacy into the business curriculum.

I. INTRODUCTION

A primary task of undergraduate business schools includes preparing students to manage complex situations by employing creativity, a wide skill set, and the resources available to them. The authors, as a faculty member and a library data specialist, are engaged in teaching the technical aspects of researching and writing business plans, and in a wider context, exposing students to the wide range of data and technologies that may be employed during that process. We perceive that an interdisciplinary approach to venture analysis is beneficial, and that the ability to visualize multiple data sets contributes to superior analytical capability. As such, we will describe the process by which GIS literacy was introduced and developed, through the strong interaction between library and business faculty, and the impact of the literacy upon student capabilities.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combines attribute data, such as demographic statistics with spatial data in the form of maps. GIS software provides an analytical tool that has gained acceptance by government and businesses, and is used in a wide range of disciples including health sciences, military strategy, earth sciences, criminology, political science, and business (Nazari & Webber, 2008). The knowledge of spatial analysis techniques in conjunction with business concepts is well recognized as a valuable skill set within an academic context as well as for graduates (Smith 2008). GIS applications are recognized as a tool which facilitates business decisions, a sampling of which includes: retail trade analysis, site selection, media targeting through customer mapping, and tracking system planning (Miller, Mangold, & Holmes 2006).

While GIS applications are common within engineering and geography curriculum, the adoption of business GIS applications in undergraduate business curriculum has been modest (Extaville, Mathews, Brown, & Strong 2006). While some institutions have a Master's level marketing course which incorporates GIS methodology, most business undergraduate programs have not integrated GIS applications in a significant manner (Boasson, Boasson, & Tastle 2004). One study indicated that only 22% of business school faculty referenced GIS in their curriculum, while only 7% included GIS projects in the courses. Consequently students would be familiar with the concept of the capability of GIS analysis, but would have limited hands-on exposure (Miller, Mangold, & Holmes 2006).

The call for business schools to provide GIS literacy in undergraduate business courses has been voiced by numerous researchers (Reames 2006), and while the benefits have been clearly articulated, the adoption remains limited. Several barriers contribute to the restricted use of GIS as a common undergraduate business tool. One study indicated that while faculty in environmental science were quite comfortable with GIS software, 70% of marketing faculty were not familiar with GIS software at any level (Brinkley, Micken, & Carr 2006). As marketing is a functional area with strong potential for GIS literacy to contribute to student understanding, the faculty barrier is significant.

The lack of familiarity with GIS software, and the limited contact with the data librarians who have GIS capability appears to create significant barriers to the adopting of GIS literacy. …

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