The evolution of ArcGIS is fascinating. We remember well the tumultuous events of 2004 with the release of Google maps. How it shook the GIS industry. Well we remember the reverberations inside of esri and their innovative reaction. It seems so long ago.

The location technology sector (let me use the umbrella term for our industry in place of the more narrow GIS), is expanding rapidly. New demand for the technology is creating a wave of innovation. Almost unprecedented. Google are shifting, new players (GISCloud, MapBox etc) have entered the market. And ArcGIS is rapidly evolving.

As GIS specialists and an esri partner we are super excited about these changes. Focusing on ArcGIS, we recently took a step back and assessed the current landscape. We summarize below what we are seeing in terms of ArcGIS adoption:

– GIS departments who could never afford ArcGIS server are testing ArcGIS Online through desktop licenses.
– GIS departments hesitant or unable to upgrade from older versions of ArcGIS server. Concerned about ArcGIS Online credits, security etc.
– GIS departments gradually moving to ArcGIS Online in phases
– GIS departments fully embracing ArcGIS Online.
– Organization without GIS but who recognize their need for location intelligence, without understanding GIS.
– Organization without GIS who do not recognise the potential benefits of the technology.

The notion of platform and ArcGIS continues to be a new idea for many current ArcGIS users. Instead of thinking in terms of separate elements: ArcGIS server, desktop etc, platform means a holistic set of applications and services. United by identity and web maps. Concerns remain around credits, and security. We still see clients taking a cautious approach. True some have fully adopted the platform, see the Salt Lake Dept of Public Utilities for a good example. Those new to GIS who recognise the need for GIS in their organizations are also looking to evolve their ArcGIS platform strategy. Staying focused on problems and using non-GIS language greatly helps with these conversations.

Overcoming Resistance, and Demonstrating Value

Resistance to change and caution over ‘new’ are a natural part of our make up as humans. WebMapSolutions find often we need to sell the benefits of the platform before we can focus on the problem and solution. Staying focused on the problem only and expecting the rest to fall into place, in our experience, rarely happens in reality. There is much interest in ArcGIS Online. From those who historically could not afford ArcGIS server, from those who recognise continuing to use ArcGIS requires migration to the platform and from those who simply lack location intelligence within their organization. Conversations with these clients are multi-layered. Much initial focus is on education around the platform, overcoming concerns and demonstrating value. Looking at the problem and potential platform based solutions then follows. Ideas become webmaps, mobile apps, storymaps, dashboards.

Sometimes resistance is hard to overcome. Much of this comes down to demonstrating value. We’ve worked with small companies who will stretch their budgets to implement a platform solution, quickly understanding and recognizing the long term value. And large companies who balk at a $7k a year investment, seeing it as impossibly extravagant. When it comes to perceived value, there are many shades of grey.

Looking Ahead

Getting the technology out of the way, is how we read esri’s approach. With templates, free apps, Web AppBuilder, App Studio; configuration rather than custom coding is being promoted. Those adopting the platform are being empowered to stand up maps and apps themselves. Sure partners like ourselves are helping, but the days of complete reliance on GIS programmers are going away. That can only be a good thing. Esri partners should be focused on jump starting platform implementations. In our case we have a series of packages which help customers quickly move forward with adopting the platform. Where we see gaps we are building products which help clients with specific workflows; mobile GIS and geo-enabling or GIS/IT are two areas where we are particularly focused.

WebMapSolutions

We love working with those who recognise the value of the platform. With those who are open to understanding the potential value the platform brings to their organization. We continue to help customers with all aspects of ArcGIS platform implementations. We have specialists in our ArcGIS and professional services groups who help customers move from problem to solution. As emerging GIS experts we are particularly skilled at providing field mobility solutions.

We think there are exciting things to come from the ArcGIS platform as it evolves. GIS anywhere, anytime, on any device is part of our mission statement. We see ArcGIS as helping us with this mission.

If you are looking to adopt, understand or deepen your engagement with ArcGIS, contact us on 801-733-0723, we can help.

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