Magazine Article | September 21, 2006

GPS In The Enterprise

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Following growing acceptance and use in the consumer space, GPS (global positioning system) technology is poised to dramatically impact the enterprise.

Integrated Solutions, October 2006

Technology vendors typically design and market products to either businesses or consumers. Vendors evaluate the technology, identify and quantify the size of the potential market, and proceed accordingly. It’s a pretty clean process. There are products for businesses and products for consumers.

The lines get a lot more blurry when consumer products start to migrate into the enterprise. Consumers realize the benefits of the products in their daily lives and, grudgingly sometimes, IT departments agree to allow these products to find their way into the enterprise. Wireless technology – handsets and PDAs – is a good example of this. Some enterprises have standardized support for specific form factors. Others, however, are still dealing with a host of wireless devices – ranging from BlackBerry to Palm Treo to Symbol rugged units – under their corporate umbrellas.


While the migration of consumer technology into the enterprise can certainly raise concerns (e.g. support, security), it can also greatly benefit enterprises. In a lot of cases, enterprises aren’t willing to roll out a technology until they see it is stable and beneficial. The consumer market acts as a proving ground. It validates the technology and serves as a training department. When enterprises finally adopt the technology, there are fewer hurdles to cross on the path to full deployment.

You see this currently happening in the GPS market. There are large enterprises that have already deployed the location-tracking technology. But most companies are only now evaluating its potential. At this point, GPS is hardly an acronym that befuddles people. On the consumer side, the technology is widely deployed for in-car navigation, geocaching activities, and location-based services. Consumers understand the value – practical and recreational – of GPS.

Finally, enterprises seem to be ready to deploy the technology in large quantities. Analyst firm ABI Research projects that the global GPS market will grow to more than $22 billion in 2008, with the largest growth rates happening in GPS-enabled handset navigation and people tracking.


It was only a couple of years ago that leveraging GPS for fleet management was a tough sell. When the acronym starts showing up in every Best Buy circular, however, even c-level executives are aware of the capabilities of the technology. Pushing GPS, and location in general, into fleet and personnel management brings a whole new level of optimization to service and distribution industries. Enterprises can compare scheduled routes with routes actually traveled by drivers. Personnel closest to an escalated call situation can be quickly located. Parts and vehicles can be tracked in real time.

The value of GPS is really inherent in the location data itself. If you’re struggling to identify where location technology might be valuable, ask yourself this question: What could be gained by knowing the exact location of your people as assets at any given point in the day? Odds are that you don’t have to think too hard to come up with some pretty compelling uses.