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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.

Is Entrenched Thinking the Biggest Challenge to GIS?

 
January 13th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

Narrow, closed, resistant, intransigent.

If I said “I’m somewhat narrow minded, and change my thinking as fast as a super tanker can turn”. What would you think about me, and is that positive or negative?

I can guess don’t worry (I’m not if you wondered .. at least I very much hope not).

Entrenched thinkers have many of these ‘closed’ characteristics. Caused one suspects in part by personality and in part by the aging process. But whatever the cause, entrenched thinking is a huge barrier to change. And GIS is in the midst of dramatic changes.

Is Entrenched Thinking the Biggest Challenge to GIS?

Let’s look in more detail at what we mean by entrenched thinking. I remember in early 2000’s talking to a large company about this new thing called the World Wide Web. Their thoughts “We really cannot justify financially developing a company Web site”. I nearly fell out of my chair.

In GIS we have cloud instances of the technology: ArcGIS Online and others. I’m still hearing caution about moving to this technology. From traditional GIS companies I hear “Too expensive”, fear about credits etc. Instead of engaging with companies like WebMapSolutions or others similarly qualified to explore the new possibilities, its the “We are hanging onto how we have always done things” entrenched approach. Mobile GIS is similar. Collector for ArcGIS is popular, but represents the very tip of the iceberg. We live in a mobile world, and work on a day to day basis with GIS, a location focused technology. Mobile and GIS are a natural fit.

One key area we have started to explore as a GIS company are non-traditional GIS sectors, and there are many. Commercial is of particularly focus. And there is resistance to adopting GIS. Confusion, and entrenched thinking are both very evident in many of our conversations.

New Leaders Emerging

I’m never comfortable with the term ‘leaders’. I remember too well the Internet boom and bust. So many times we heard the term leader banded around. Many of these so called leaders turned out to be crooks. I use the term leader to mean those among us who think differently, have the courage of their convictions, are curious and looking for new and better ways to overcome challenges.

We work with many well established GIS focused companies. Some, like Esri, are in the midst of change, looking and planning for the new exciting world of GIS. Others are entrenched. Scared of what is coming. Confused. Resistant to new ideas. Sticking with old approaches and methods. Last year we had a GIS focused company come to us looking for outside help. A nice group with a great product. Their problem: the mobile piece of their platform lacked flexibility and simplicity both from a development and user perspective. We worked with them for some time. Completed the first phase of the exploration. Then out of the blue they ended the engagement. No explanation, no reason given. Odd, they started but never finished (for whatever reason) the process.

Exploration can be time consuming, scary, expensive. But if you don’t start and most importantly continue the process, you open up the real possibility of others coming in and knocking you off your perch. New leaders will emerge.

Entrenched Thinker

Are you curious, looking forward (not backwards), open to new ideas, listen, avoid assumptions, willing to disagree, looking to engage, prepared to explore?

Congratulation you are not an entrenched thinker. You (and your organization) have a rosy GIS future ahead.

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

Related posts:

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

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