CXO Priorities

NextTech: An Executive View of the Global Economy

By James Higgins

This global indicators map shows each country's total amount of investments abroad

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In his book The Raging 2020s, author Alec Ross posed a question that hints at the current state of global business: Does every company now need its own state department? Global 2000 business leaders are confronting a complex international landscape in which risks—and opportunities—can come from any direction, with little or no preamble.

With supply chains, offices, and assets spread across continents, executives need real-time awareness of global indicators and economic signals that could impact their operations. Many corporations today use geographic information system (GIS) technology to supply an interactive picture of global affairs or company operations.

The 3D map in the video below, displaying international economic metrics on a GIS-powered digital globe, demonstrates the kind of spatial context that C-suite leaders need to navigate a global business environment.

A Geographic Approach to Global Indicators

In the demo, GIS captures a geospatial view of World Bank data on global indicators like population, CO2 emissions, foreign investment, and imports and exports. At a glance, business leaders can monitor the state of international trade or zoom in to view data on a particular country.

By seeing global indicators in 3D instead of on a spreadsheet, executives can more easily spot trends or interconnections driven by geography. For instance, the GIS rendering showing CO2 emissions in Germany relative to the rest of Europe could influence investment policy at a company that’s enacting the principles of spatial finance.

A supply chain executive studying the map might investigate why Vietnam’s exports exceed those of surrounding southeast Asian nations. Complementary data on foreign investments or inflation could lead the executive to explore a new trade route or supplier.

A GIS analyst could tailor the map to a company’s priorities by customizing the view, allowing a COO to highlight countries where the company does business or where it is considering investments.

A Central Nervous System for Business Intelligence

A 3D map of global indicators shows the value of GIS as a central nervous system for business intelligence. Just as the human brain turns sensory experiences into information to help us make decisions, GIS transforms disparate data from the World Bank and other sources into maps that guide corporate strategy.

In an interconnected global economy, executives can’t base decisions on isolated data points. Location intelligence provides a holistic view, revealing how a piece of information like population levels in China or access to electricity in Brazil fits into a larger operational context.

Globalization has given companies access to more markets while exposing them to greater risk. When considering whether to open a new mine overseas, a modern natural resource company can’t simply analyze cost and demand. Environmental impacts, geopolitics, and the potential for local social unrest could just as easily make or break a venture.

Location intelligence reveals global indicators and local realities in an intuitive view, helping business leaders make data-driven decisions. With GIS, global enterprises and small businesses alike have ready access to insights worthy of a state department briefing.

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