This blog of late has been focused on specific organizational challenges and GIS solutions. Thinking through specific client problems has raised questions on some wider GIS industry challenges.

The Challenges and Evolution of GIS

Revolution or evolution, call it what you like: GIS is changing. Driven by the cloud and mobile computing, there is a new awareness and need for answers to location based questions. Yet the industry sits in an odd place. With one foot in the past the other in the future. But, as the song goes “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

No technology evolution occurs without challenges, and these challenges can be at many different levels: technical, messaging, expectations, old versus new. In this post we will only touch on a few areas, mostly focused on users. Note, the goal here is to be vendor neutral, to focus on the location technology/GIS industry in general.

Here goes ..

Why is Location Technology/GIS still so Expensive?

“We are a small organization. The idea of cloud based GIS was appealing since we do not have the resources to internally maintain our own GIS. We hoped GIS as a service (SaaS) would provide an affordable model for us to start using GIS. But we have held back. Our impression is that GIS is still expensive.”

GIS is today cheaper than it has ever been. It is more accessible, and easier to administer. Users can mix and match the services they use. That was not the case in the past. But the “more affordable” message seems to have been lost. We sense a degree of confusion, and frustration.

Simpler Cost Structures

“I wish the cost structures in place were simpler. We seem to be paying one fee here, another there. I need to be able to explain and justify GIS to my upper managers, simpler cost structures would help greatly”

Evolution means change. Change is scary. Confusion makes us all wary. Simplicity is key. The simpler we can make cost structures the better. Layered cost structures, can be problematic. A way needs to be found to avoid making cost confusion a potential barrier to adoption (or widening the use) of GIS.

Configure Now (Customize Later)

“We like being able to quickly use some of the pre-built apps which come with our location technology platform. But we have our own workflows and needs. If configurable apps are difficult to customize, in our organizations at least, they are destined to have a very short shelf life.”

Many of the location technology/GIS vendors now offer configurable or COTS applications. They are often industry and solution specific. Many are excellent, and a huge help in moving client implementations forward quickly. But they are generic solutions. Clients have their own unique, workflows and needs. That means over time potentially customizing these generic solutions. We like the term:

“Configure Now, Easy to Customize Later.”

Mobile GIS: Still in its Infancy

“We wish there were more good mobile GIS apps. There are a few we use regularly. But what we see as a big need are mobile GIS apps which run on any device, any platform and are configurable.”

GIS technology will one day be pervasive. With mobile devices, today we carry our computers with us at all times. Mobile computing means changing location. Being able to visualize and analyse our changing location is a key component of many apps. And that means GIS. Mobile GIS specifically. But the mobile GIS world remains in its infancy. As a company we have put much emphasis on mobile GIS. We see mobile as a key component, providing field staff new tools and feeding a GIS new and updated data. In our work with mobile we see offline as essential. We often say:

If your mobile GIS app does not work offline, it does not work!

We see some of the key vendors also recognizing the importance of mobile offline capabilities. But flexibility, is still lacking in the mobile GIS world. “Dairy chaining” mobile apps together we like, but what is still needed are mobile apps which can be configured. We have been pushing hard down the mobile web path. Developing very flexible mobile GIS apps using web technology. This fits with our already stated goal of “Configure Now, Easy to Customize Later.”

Evolution comes with challenges. GIS is evolving, and dealing with its own challenges. The is no doubt the future is bright for GIS .. maybe its time now to put on our shades!

Contact us for more information on 801-733-0723.





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