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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.

Do those new to GIS understand the value?

April 17th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Value. Now there is a slippery term. Value is very much down to individual perception. Yet providing and demonstrating value is at the heart of our mission as GIS solution providers. And I don’t just mean by companies like ourselves who provide GIS services. Those looking to provide new GIS based tools across an organization will come across the value proposition. Why should i give up my paper based approach to data collection? Stop using spreadsheets for asset management?

Do those new to GIS see the value?

As GIS professionals the value of GIS to us is obvious. Location based data is better understood, easier to work with, when presented on a map. Maps are images, our brains are wired to understand images. Hidden behind the (map) covers is the analysis part of GIS. Spatial analysis, location intelligence call it what you will. GIS is very powerful technology.

So then do those new to GIS understand the value?

I would argue many do not not immediately. Like any ‘new’ technology there is work to be done demonstrating value. As GIS becomes more ubiquitous, a new non-GIS set of users will be exposed to the technology. Demonstrating value will be an ongoing process for us all. Why?

The Dangers of Cruise Ship GIS Apps

Intuitive and easy to use. Intuitive and easy to use.

That is not a typo. Its repetition. Unless GIS apps are intuitive and easy to use any and all perceived value is quickly lost. There has been a Cruise Ship mindset when it comes to GIS applications. See our recent blog post entitled: ArcGIS and Getting out of the Cruise Ship Mindset. If you fill your app with tools you will lose users quickly. Worse than that if it takes 4, 5, 6 steps or more to get a task done …..

GIS apps need to be simple. Its easy to demonstrate value if a task is made simpler by using GIS technology.

Fear of the New

New is scary. Caution of things new is natural. Breaking old habits is also part of this mix. Older workers are particularly resistant to change. But we need to demonstrate value at all levels in organizations. To show managers how GIS technology can improve how assets are managed, improve efficiency and accuracy, provide greater insight leading to improved revenues and reduced costs. Demonstrate to staff how GIS can help them get their jobs done quicker, complete tasks using fewer steps, reduce repetition and frustration.

GIS should be Apple App Store Cheap

Software is widely recognized as complicated. Yet GIS solutions some presume to be cheap, as in Apple App Store cheap.

We have at WebMapSolutions a very well defined path to client GIS project success. In order that path looks like:

1) Planning – At the heart of this phase is understanding the problem
2) Data – Two parts here. First eliminating the all too common ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario. Second creating an organizational system of record, or single reliable data source.
3) Platform – This is the GIS itself. So choice, set up, configuration, data publishing etc
4) Applications – This can be a specific application or GIS anywhere, anytime, on any device for all.

Our clients are often initially focused on ‘the application’. We re-focus the discussion on these 4 key parts which make up any successful GIS implementation. Its a wider, more far reaching conversation than simply an app.

Linking GIS Solutions to Value

In all cases the key to any successful adoption of GIS technology is education; linking GIS solutions to value. That can be a simple or complex proposition.

We are sometimes approached with “pot of gold” ideas for applying GIS. These can be energizing conversations; applying GIS in industries which have traditionally overlooked the technology.

We walk prospective clients through our 4 step implementation process, which helps set the stage, providing information and education. One question we have tried to include in our initial conversations is “How much additional revenue do you think your pot of gold idea will generate?” This is a key question when it comes to the question of value. Imagine a scenario where that pot of gold idea will generate an additional $1000 year in revenue, but the GIS solution will cost $30k. Hardly a pot of gold idea and very hard to demonstrate value. How about $1 million in additional revenue, with a $100,000 up front investment in GIS. Now that is slightly different.

Thinking up front about demonstrating value is important particularly when working with those new to GIS technology. Staying focused on the value proposition in your client or staff interactions will more likely result in successful outcomes.

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

2 Responses to “Do those new to GIS understand the value?”

  1. […] a recent blog on this site, Matt Sheehan suggested that many people who are new to GIS don’t truly understand the value of the technology. […]

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