GeoWorld August 2012

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A Lamborghini or Food? An Enterprise GIS Can't be Frivolous POSITION V BY TODD DANIELSON ery recently, I met with Jack Dangermond at the Esri User Conference in San Diego. I asked him if he thought most forms of GIS soon would be moving to the cloud, as there's so much movement in that direction these days. He quickly said no, adding that the four main platforms for GIS would remain for a while: Desktop, Mobile Device, Cloud and Server (i.e., enterprisewide implementations, the focus of this month's GeoWorld). He did admit that some Server/ Enterprise configurations would be mostly cloud-based in architecture, but due to security reasons and particular user needs, the large server network will remain a major element of our GIS world. But if you count cloud implemen- tations that service an entire company or organization, enterprisewide GIS will only grow, as they will become more affordable and easier to install and use. Why Enterprisewide? The most common reason to implement an enterprisewide GIS is the same engine that runs most businesses: money. For a lot of organizations, it's simply cost-effective to have the entire workforce utilizing one system that can be a central repository of all the data and processing they need. As noted this issue's cover article, Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / AUGUST 2O12 "Got Enterprise GIS? Your Business May Flounder without It," on page 14, large companies previously relied on database management systems (DBMSs), such as Oracle and SAP, to be the central clearinghouse of most company information. And because most data contain geographic loca- tions, these DBMSs soon added spatial elements to their systems. And although many companies still use such systems as the backbone of their information management, GISs have become simpler to use yet increasingly capable of storing a variety of nonspatial information. Therefore, many companies and organizations now are using a GIS as the main interface to a wide variety of business information, including customer data, accounting information, risk management, asset tracking and site location, among others. In addition, many GISs have added tools to present nonspatial data in nonspatial form, using capabilities once reserved for non-GIS repositories. If you can do it all from a GIS, and add a lot of spatial analyses not present in previous DBMSs, why not do that? Indispensible GIS Another one of this month's features, "Secure Your Program's Future with Enterprisewide GIS," on page 18, notes that a central characteristic of an effective enterprisewide GIS is that it's indispensible and "interwoven into the fabric of daily operations." If your GIS isn't needed and regularly used by all staff, then, by definition, it isn't an enterprisewide application. I like that definition, as it implies that 1) GIS can be the core technology of a business and 2) if it's not, and you intended it to be, you're doing some- thing wrong that needs to be fixed. By keeping this central theme in mind dur- ing approval and installation phases, you can save yourself and the company a lot of trouble. In addition, what better job security can you have than setting up and running a technology platform that's absolutely necessary for all employees? So keep that in mind if you're ever setting up such a system. Are you creating something that every- one "can" use or something that everyone "must" use? I "can" drive a Lamborghini, but since it's not a necessity, it'd mostly sit in my drive- way while I went bankrupt trying to pay for it. Don't let your enterprisewide GIS implementation become a little-used and economically crippling purchase. Be sure to create something everyone truly needs and can utilize, and then sit back and watch it flourish.

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