A new survey out on Tuesday (22 January), highlights the growth of digital mapping as a business tool among South African corporates and SMEs.
According to the survey, 76% of South African corporations and 38% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) spend more than 2% of their information technology (IT) budgets on mapping services.
Digital mapping is a process where collected data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image and integrated into a mapping application such as Google Earth or local digital mapping provider, mapIT.
The survey, conducted through World Wide Worx and mapIT, interviewed 111 IT and logistics decision-makers at corporations, and 400 business decision-makers at SMEs, across South Africa.
The survey results show that companies are spending more on digital mapping, with 38% of SMEs spending more than R50,000 a year on digital mapping, while 22% of corporates spend more than R500,000.
“The biggest surprise in the findings was the extent to which budgets are growing,” said World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck.
“Two-thirds of large corporations and SMEs alike – 69% and 66% respectively – intend to increase their spending on digital mapping services in 2013.”
According to World Wide Worx, the primary uses of mapping services revolved around asset tracking services, such as fleet management, vehicle tracking and recovery and navigation.
However, marketing was beginning to play an increasing role.
A third of SMEs – 35% – use digital mapping for location-based marketing (LBM), while a further 19% plan to do so in 2013 – taking the total to more than half.
Aside from increasing budgets, the potential for growth in the sector is significant, with more than a quarter of SMEs – 27% – having a budget of less than R10,000 for digital mapping, World Wide Worx said.
Among corporates, 21% spend less than R50,000 a year.
“The main reason companies don’t use digital mapping is that they don’t know what it has to offer. A quarter of SMEs say lack of knowledge is the main obstacle to using such tools.”
For corporations, there were no significant obstacles to using such services, Goldstuck said.
“Digital mapping is proving to be the hidden secret weapon of South African business,” said mapIT chief executive officer Etienne Louw.
“The research underlines the extent to which large and small businesses, alike, depend on digital maps not only for navigation and tracking, but also for efficiency, productivity and security,” he said.