Esri Australia Managing Director Brett Bundock kicked off the plenary with a welcome that was quite though-provoking.
He started off by doing a quick poll of the audience. He asked – ‘Who thinks there is a greater potential for GIS within their organisations’? Most of the room put up their hands.
Then he asked – ‘Who believes the value of GIS is widely understood?’… And you could have heard a pin drop. I don’t think a single hand went up.
Brett said the response was pretty much what he was expecting – and this set one of the themes for his presentation. That while there is certainly a growing appetite for GIS capabilities – there is not necessarily a complete understanding of just how much value GIS can offer, amongst the broader community.
He used this cool little drawing to illustrate his point.
He said that with ArcGIS Online for Organisations – as well as other advancements in software (such as 3D, Dekho etc) – we are seeing the market start to shape the technology… people want something that is intuitive, so GIS is becoming more user-friendly than ever before.
He then touched on how GIS is becoming adopted as part of ‘known workflows’ – so how seamless integrations with systems such as SAP, Microsoft Office and IBM Cognos are becoming common place.
Finally, he brought it all back together by talking about how these advancements in the technology and new adoptions with core business systems are bringing a new wave of users to the industry – who are not from traditional markets (think health, retail, agribusiness etc).
He said that while this changing GIS environment brought many new opportunities for us already part of the industry – it would also bring some new challenges we must navigate.
The main one being that the understanding of what GIS is could get ‘dumbed down’ to just dots on a map… and in the process, the full potential of the technology could go unrealised.
So Brett put a challenge out to all of us – to ensure the value of what we do, as GIS professionals, is communicated to all parts of the organisations we work for. He asked us to share our knowledge and understanding with new users, and step up to be the ones really driving the GIS vision within our organisations.
I don’t know about you… but it got me pretty excited about the future of our industry – and the opportunities that await GIS professionals.