GIS (Geographical Information System) tools are capable in handling the spatial data effectively and also able to perform the analytics with limited size of data. GIS tools have limitation in mining on multi-dimensional databases which BI tools does it with efficiency.
Many users still have confusion whether to adopt BI tool for analytics or should I continue to use GIS tools only. There are some charting API’s available to generate the pie chart/bar charts which can be integrated with any COTS products, but this is a static way of showing some of the data. BI tool provides a dynamic way of interacting with database, which in turn helps in user defined dynamic query (Adhoc-Query). Business Intelligence tool provides the below distinct advantage compared to GIS tool:
- An ETL tool which allows to Extracts data from various inputs, Transforms (Cleansing, data structure and Updating) and Load the data into data warehouse.
- Data Warehouse: This will store data in meaning full way for faster retrieval that can be in RDBMS/NoSQL database.
- On-line Analytical Processing (OLAP) Server: For faster retrieval and exploration.
- Efficient charting functionality to display data meaning fully.
In conventional GIS, except charting API’s all above capabilities are missing. To offer comprehensive solutions to the end user, GIS solution providers like ESRI, Intergraph, Pitney Bowes have join hands with prominent BI companies like SAP (Business Objects), IBM (Cognos), SAS, Microstrategy and offering a plug-in, which seamlessly bring mapping capability from GIS solution tool and analytical capability from BI tool.