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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

Avoiding the GIS Nerd Trap

April 11th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Being a GIS nerd used to be cool. We’d all get together and talk layers, projections, spatial queries. Good times. Our own language.

But alas things have changed.

Maybe not alas. Sitting in our own GIS corner was beginning to feel a little isolated. GIS is increasingly being used by a much wider group. Many of us now refer to ‘location technology’ in place of GIS. As my wife said when I first introduced the term:

“Now I understand what you do for a living!”

Change is good. With change comes opportunity. But often there is resistance to change, or more importantly a lack of understanding of what it means to change. Commercial GIS comes to mind. An area now keenly discussed in GIS circles. All large organizations manage their businesses using CRM’s, ERP’s and the like. The missing piece has always been location. That’s where we come in right?


I will scream if I read again the Jack Dangermond quote about 80% of business data having a location component. It might be true, but we are all quoting one another. GIS folk see the world through a GIS lens. Business folk see things through a different lens. The challenge is both groups sharing the same lens. Its true; most businesses have no location strategy. That’s a huge opportunity. But how do we illustrate the power of integrating CRM’s, ERP’s with a location platform?

That is the question.

It means we need to step away from our GIS nerd world. And start talking others languages.

Categories: ArcGIS Online, Mobile ArcGIS, Web and mobile GIS

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