Recently I had the opportunity to visit a very interesting company, iMapData, which is now part of ChoicePoint. These folks started out in the late 90's doing market studies for blue chip commercial organizations. After 9/11 they started doing studies for federal government agencies. In the process of doing these studies they acquired large datasets that they researched and cleaned, but with the goal of providing information and analysis for their market studies.
The Value of Data
iMapData is an information company and geospatial is just one aspect of the analytical and reporting capabilities they offer to their customers, who don't need to be aware of what GIS and the underlying geospatial technology is all about. The interesting aspect of all of this is that they soon realized that their data was extremely valuable, in fact, that customers were more interested in the data than the studies. About ten years ago iMapData developed a web interface to their databases using MapGuide and data became their primary revenue generating activity. They currently support 1600 to 1700 different data layers and have become a combined data and software as a service (SAAS) provider.