I’m using ‘GIS’ and ‘rescue’ together in the title of this blog post. Does that mean I think in some way GIS is in trouble?
Lost its way a little might be more accurate. Let’s break down the pieces.
Will COTS+ Rescue GIS?
In many ways this post is a continuation of thoughts expressed in What has GIS to do with Occam’s Razor? The path from any problem to a solution requires stripping out complexity and driving toward simplicity.
People with questions want:
- Simple low cost solutions which require no or minimal set up and configuration.
- Solutions which actually solve a problem (not nearly).
- Most people don’t want to be given a complex set of tools to ‘figure out’.
- Nor do they want to have to assemble all the pieces (data).
- They don’t want to be required to be trained.
- Most people and organization simply want the fastest way to arrive at an answer to a problem!
Does that sound like GIS to you?
Many geospatial platforms are being sold using COTS (commercial off the shelf) apps as the carrot. You need to collect data? Use this pre-built mobile app. Need to generate work orders and conduct inspections? Use that pre-built web app. On and on.
COTS apps have helped sell geospatial platforms. They have also helped many clients. But COTS apps:
- Are not designed for individual customers, they are built for all. They are generic.
- Functionality may or may not solve specific customer problems.
- Workflows may or may not make sense to users.
- Many COTS apps either provide too little flexibility, or too much.
- All COTS apps need data, and that often requires GIS expertise.
No doubt COTS apps have their place. But I would argue COTS+ will be the future of GIS. These are custom COTS solutions. Built on a reusable base, they are widget driven. Meaning you can take one pre-built base and configure or extend it for a particular need. So instead of separate data collection and work order apps, you have one app which can be configured to do both.
Let me share an example. The image below shows our real estate brokers app. This is data driven, in this case focused on parcels. Our users have no need to find, clean, publish, update the data which feeds the app. We have also configured a number of widgets to support brokers and agents. The drag-and-drop widget our developers extended to provide functionality requested by users.
Workflows are simple, and custom designed for the users of the app. Below is a our work order app. It has the same COTS+ framework as the real estate app just different widgets and data. Again workflows have been designed for users, based on their feedback.
COTS+ provides simple, low cost, focused solutions customized for individual organization or user needs.
COTS+ may indeed be coming to the rescue.