In opening remarks to the Senior Executive Seminar at the Esri User Conference, Jack Dangermond said that GIS is going through a continuous evolution whereby the community is living in a situation with faster computers, cloud computing, web services, device computing, and pervasive content. In recognizing that more businesses and government are using location technology and acquiring the means to visualize location-based information he said, "It's not the GIS geeks anymore."
He then went on to position GIS and Esri technology as a platform. This too is taking Esri on an evolutionary path from its roots in desktop and server computing toward web services and facilitating application development. "The world is becoming wired up; apps evolution is giving people access to all sorts of information leveraging the investments we've already made," said Dangermond.
Dangermond described a vision where GIS sits as an operational component of an organization's IT infrastructure and not simply as an isolated business application. "Web GIS and web services become a platform that are serving information across the organization," he said.
This is a vision that will take some time to develop as many IT organizations grapple with the move toward servicing business applications and not just the hardware that connects desktops with servers. Many questions will have to be answered with respect to how IT departments support investments in location data. Dangermond wants organizations to connect to location-based information throughout the organization and not have it be the domain of the "GIS department." "There is a need to set up the right kind of governance systems so that these GIS systems do not become fiefdoms ," said Dangermond.
Governance. This is another recurring theme among other speakers at the Seminar as well. It's a recognition of just how well GIS has infiltrated business systems such that it is indeed becoming so pervasive that managers have to take a step back and ask: who's responsible; which organization is the authoritative source; what data can be shared to which department. It's these kinds of policy questions that are now surfacing when geospatial information becomes vital to an organization's effectiveness.