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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.

A Beautiful GIS Mind

March 10th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I love a good story. Its actually why I rarely now watch films. Today’s special effects ridden films cannot replace a good tale (see the story free new Mad Max as an example). I’m thinking about 3 Days of the Condor, A Beautiful Mind and so many other films with real stories. Hard to beat.

I’m in story mood today. GIS story mood. Ready?

John is a young, and very driven. A smart guy who started work for a software company less than 1 year ago. Much is expected of him in this new position. Some run away from pressure. That is not John. He has built a new team, and wonders how best to proceed. John’s teams task is to help new markets adopt the software. There are company guidelines he needs to stay within, but he wonders if he should take a tried and tested route, or break new ground? Software sales to those familiar with the software follow a familiar path. Not an easy sale (when is any sale easy), but the approach and language used are familiar. But sales to those new to this technology (its GIS) are quite different. GIS is not learned in 10 mins no matter how simple things become (20 years of working with GIS and I learn something new each day). John’s dilemma: how do I sell software to those new to GIS, without giving them some level of guidance. Checking in once a month he fears will not cut it. He knows GIS is far more than a simple software sale to those unfamiliar with the technology. This keeps him up at night.

Petula is unfamiliar with GIS. But she is smart. She recognizes that GIS could help her solve many problems her company face. She needs to mash up key organizational data with other public data in a map. Then ask questions (query) this data. These questions are both simple and complex.The budget she has in mind is limited. She reaches out to software vendors for information and pricing. After a number of conversations she is feeling confident. She is closing in on a solution. Promises have been made: spend $ with us and you’ll get x, y and z. Nothing to it, click click click and your questions will be answered. Petula sleeps well, knowing solutions to some key work challenges are close at hand.

John’s lack of sleep today, are driven by his concerns for people like Petula. He knows Petula not only needs the right software but the option to have somebody hold her hand through the process of using the software. To provide a plan and maybe GIS guidance. That might be staff in-house or external. The key to successful customer outcomes, is setting realistic expectations and not making empty promises.

Presenting GIS as simple (and cheap .. cheap I know is a relative term) is flawed. Moving fast with GIS, particularly if you are new to the technology, is not realistic. GIS requires a process of learning and understanding. From simple data publishing and map generation, to answering those many organizational questions. Learning takes time. As John knows the success of his companies GIS technology in the hands of folks like Petula is far more than simply a software sale.

There is a growing need for GIS companies to help those new to GIS be successful. I’m talking more here than just training. For those customers without GIS departments the software can be confusing. They need hand holding. Clearly defining their problem(s), evolving a story and using the software to answer the question(s). For this reason, we have put increasing emphasis on the discovery part of our business. Our customers success is our success.

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

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

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