I make it my business to get to as many external events as I can. It helps you validate your thinking, ensure that any thought leadership you might claim to have is at least pointing in the right direction, and of course keeps you reasonably up to date with current marketplace developments.
The GIS community is going through a period of transformation, as not only does it recognise that ‘location’ is part of the Big Data story, but also that the location discussion is increasingly critical in business decisions both at a tactical and strategic level. I suspect that many GIS professionals have known this for a long while – some have embraced this approach, some have been scared by it.
The impact of this transformation is that the GIS industry is increasingly having to understand the key business drivers of the sector they work in, and be prepared to use language which is familiar to business users. There is a time and a place for GIS jargon, and that’s not in front of business users.
I find it curious that GIS events seem to seldom include business users – that is, the decision makers in the business like asset managers, supply chain managers, operational managers, who all need to better understand the tools and capabilities of the industry. At many of the events, it seems that speakers are preaching to the converted.
At one event, I was faintly amused by the round of applause when a new location ‘widget’ was announced. My learned colleague whispered in my ear that we weren’t at a GIS event, but rather that we had stumbled into the Church of Mapology by mistake. Perhaps he had a point…