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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 the GIS Revolution still being driven by early adopters?

May 14th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

In this blog post I wanted to step back and reflect on the dramatic changes in GIS, we’ve been calling it the GIS Revolution. To ask the question is there a gap between perception and reality? And discuss the continued importance of early adopters.

The emergence of cloud and mobile technology have raised dramatically the profile and demand for location technology. Esri and other vendors in the GIS space have reacted to these technology changes and new demands by releasing new products. That actually understates reality, in the case of esri, they are in many ways reinventing themselves. We are in a phase of GIS innovation. The path is to mainstream acceptance and use of GIS; new uses of the technology and a vastly expanded user base.

Traditional GIS users are seeing their world turned upside down. Those new to GIS now have an entry point. They are no longer excluded from the technology. Publishing maps has never been easier. A plethora of GIS apps are now available. Configure first has become an esri mantra. And why not. If your GIS app needs are shared by others why reinvent the wheel? Esri are releasing new configurable apps at a prolific rate.

Is there a Gap between Perception and Reality

So where are we in the GIS revolution?

Have traditional users adopted the new cloud based solutions, are they configuring apps and providing them across their organizations? Are non-GIS users adopting the technology in droves? Reading the GIS press you would think yes.

The reality is definitely, maybe!

The Importance of Early Adopters

The GIS Revolution still being driven by early adopters. The GIS press is in reality focused on where we are going not where we are. We see adoption rates as picking up, definitely close to a tipping point, but not there yet.

The future for GIS is truly exciting. Part of our company mission statement is:

“GIS anywhere, anytime, on any device, for all”

At WebMapSolutions we have traditional GIS clients and those new to GIS. They engage our services because we are focused on this new world of GIS. What each of our clients share is an understanding and vision of how cloud and mobile, leveraging location technology, can improve their business. Providing new insights, and improving on how work gets done. They are all visionary, early adopters.

Long term users of GIS are too often hamstrung by managers who still see GIS professionals as ‘simply map makers’. Education is key, but too often GIS professionals lack the time to investigate and show the new power of GIS to managers. Those new to GIS need careful attention. GIS is complex. Again education is king. A carefully planned, well communicated path is needed to guide these clients through the phases of any and all GIS implementation.

Revolutions sometimes happen overnight. More often the process is gradual. Such is the case with GIS. We still live in a time of early adopters. But when the flood gates truly open, we are in for the ride of our lives.

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

2 Responses to “Is the GIS Revolution still being driven by early adopters?”

  1. Ian Holt says:

    Hi Matt,
    Your blog title drew me in, but I feel a little frustrated with the content.
    I must admit that I was expecting more of your comments cited with examples and not just more questions.
    A real paradigm shift happened in the mid-2000s, suddenly non-GIS folk could get an insight into what all this GIS stuff was about. Admittedly, this is a very superficial view. However, at the same time we have seen the onward march of technology such as the advent of cloud, usable mobile etc. But the most important element to me has been the ease at which startups have been able to use and drive forward developments with location data. To me, that is what, to a large extent is driving demand for changes in established software and established processes. For fear of this comment being too long, I also am not going to cite examples, but I think there is a good discussion to be had on this subject.

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