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We speak much on this blog about mobile GIS. But the big picture is really what is most important. True we have new mobile and cloud platforms which are helping to transform the niche that was GIS. But at the heart of these new enabling technologies is sharing, collaborating and maybe most importantly presenting data in a new more understandable way.

The cloud gives us access to centralised services and data storage. Mobile provides us with essentially easily portable computers. Together they are very powerful. But they form an important part of a much wider whole. Dare one say holistic. Within corporations it is now possible to provide custom mobile apps to field based workers; often for data collection. Desktop analysts can now access this field data directly, in combination with other datasets. Executives can use Web based applications to visualize this data in real time and make faster more accurate decisions.

We are living through a time of change. I have attended a number of mapping and GIS conferences over the last few weeks. What struck me at each is that many of the old established companies in sectors are now selling legacy applications. Multi-million dollar systems are now easier and far cheaper to build; providing a wider set of tools and access to data and services. Few that I spoke to understood that their businesses were under threat. One company I spoke to were in essence creating a watered down version of Esri’s ArcGIS Online. When in conversation with one of their senior executives, I realised they knew little about this new mapping platform.

Quri – Disrupting the Retail intelligence Sector

Though not in the mapping and GIS space, Quri have an interesting business model. Retail intelligence services have historically been very expensive. Data collection – often using paper forms – and analysis of product placement on shelves in stores within an area can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Given the availability of smartphones with built in cameras, Quri have a team of field staff who simply use their cell phones to take pictures of products on shelf. These images are quickly uploaded and processed by Quri. Resulting in Clients receiving reports faster and cheaper than those still using traditional methods.

Cloud and mobile technology in combination with more traditional desktop and Web technologies are in the process of disrupting the mapping and GIS world. Those who take Quri’s approach and challenge the old methods and order represent the future of our industry.

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