GITA strategies to survive and thrive

pel405-gita-strategies-to-survive-and-thrive.jpgThe Geospatial Information & Technology Association Australia & New Zealand (GITA ANZ) is feeling the pinch on a number of fronts and has produced a three year strategic plan to counter the myriad threats to its viability.

GITA is a global organisation established to “provide excellence in education and information exchange on the use and benefits of geospatial information and location-aware technologies for asset and infrastructure management.” GITA ANZ was established in 1996 (www.gita.org.au).

It has five levels of membership - Primary, Corporate, Small Business, Individual and Student - and says that, in recent years membership has declined. “We have a low number of primary members with many large utilities not renewing membership. Further, many organisations within GITA ANZ’s core focus area are not members.”

GITA ANZ runs two annual awards: an Excellence Award and a Dial-Before-You-Dig Award, given on the basis of how well a company responds to DBYD enquiries. The winner of the 2013 award was Energex.

A key activity of GITA ANZ is its annual conference, but it is facing multiple challenges. According to GITA: “The conference landscape is crowded with other association events and vendor specific events ... the association concept is also under threat from new communication tools, such as social media [and with] the current economic climate impacting travel and attendance at conference and industry events.”

GITA is not alone in facing these problems and says that moves are afoot to set up a unified conference of the spatial industry, but this could be a mixed blessing. It notes that: “Whilst a unified spatial conference may seem like a reasonable approach to address the current economic climate, there is a significant risk of diluting the GITA ANZ brand and purpose, a similar concern all associations share.” No conference for 2014 had been scheduled at the time of writing (20 January).

Like many similar organisations, GITA ANZ is resource constrained. The plan notes that: “There is a limited level of human resources available to perform GITA ANZ operational activities. As a volunteer-led association there is currently a high reliance on the board for operational activities, which diverts focus from their efforts of governance and strategy.” One of its immediate priorities is “to acquire a resource to drive and manage the operational aspects of this strategic plan.”

It wil certainly need this if it is to implement its mid term (2014/15) goals of “Break[ing] into new industries, such as mining, oil and gas,” and “Hold[ing] local or regional events in more locations within Australia, and reinvigorat[ing] activity in New Zealand.”

And its territorial ambitions are not limited to Australia and New Zealand. In the longer term it wants to “grow membership and operations into the broader Asia Pacific (APAC) region.”

If there is one thing GITA ANZ has in its favour it is the essential nature of the industry it represents. As the strategic plan notes: “Nearly all information managed by business has a spatial aspect - a street address, location or series of ‘XY’ coordinates representing real world infrastructure assets. Thus, geospatial information technology is vital in every corner of the business world while becoming omnipresent for everybody through in-car and mobile phone navigation and information systems.”

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