I was amazed to find the way an “outsider” to the technology perceives GIS while discussing about GIS implementation with a senior decision maker of the metropolitan in India. According to the officer, GIS seemed to be a highly complicated mix of technology, laws, social issues, security issues, money, recurring investment in data updation, difficult quality control, lack of quality vendors, lack of budgets, accountability and so on.
And unfortunately he was right.
Implementing GIS in the organisation (and specially, the government ones) is no less than a nightmare. I have seen EDP Officers, MIS Officers, CIOs and CEOs fumbling and jumbling over how to make GIS operational in their organisations. It is not rare to find organisations that are ready to throw you out when you utter the name GIS. These are the people who have spent a lot of time and money in starting a GIS system but have failed miserably.
GIS is still not perceived as a mainstream IT application. A key reason being that this specialised science application is not taught as a subject matter in most of the IT courses or business management courses. The much needed integration between business and GIS in academic institutions is lacking.
The rapidly changing technology scenario, the dearth of high quality up-to-date spatial data, the requirement of a new genre of employee (geographer-cartographer-GIS-IT analyst), and a long term return-on-investment in such endeavours are the issues that hamper the introduction, sustained usage or growth of GIS in enterprises. But addressing these hurdles and developing solutions to counter them are not impossible tasks. And many who have dared to embrace such pragmatic steps, have actually succeeded.
Will implementing GIS in your system become as simple as implementing MS Office in your organisation?
I have still not lost the hope.