The future of mobile is location! ………. The future of computing is mobile!
Two bold statements. We don’t necessarily believe them yet. But one would be foolish to ignore them offhand. What do these have to do with our question:
“Should we retire the term GIS”?
GIS deals with location. Why not simply use this universally understood term when we sell our geo-technology solutions .. and drop GIS altogether? As the need for location technology grows, lets begin to use the language all can understand. GIS is a niche term understood by geo-nerds, often in the public sector (nothing like a good generalization).
I heard a story the other day from a geo-friend of a geo-friend. She works for, as she describes, a fantastic GIS company. The story was about the company meeting last year. One of her colleagues asked the Head of Sales “should we advertise ourselves as a GIS or location focused company?”. The Head of Sales and CEO both chipped in with pleasant answers. But there was a depth to the question noted by my friends friend. Today, a year later, there has begun a discussion within the company on the absence of the term GIS at geo-focused conferences. My friends friend says it makes her smile. She has quietly patted her colleague, who asked the question, on the back.
Why tell that story? Like it or not, the term GIS is being edged out. New geo-sectors are emerging; see Location Based Services (LBS) for example. Is it GIS? No, well yes. It deals with location. The term is in the title. Okay, its consumer focused, a tool for marketeers. But who cares?
Mobile is changing our perception of terms like location. Let’s try that silly elevator game, where you are pitching new company ideas, in one sentence:
“My new company will provide GIS services.”
“Our company will employ geographers and provide information about the space around us.”
“The focus of our company will be to provide location(s) based information and services.”
I know in which of these three companies a layman would invest his money. And which one potential clients would gravitate towards.
As mobile becomes more popular, so too will the need for solutions which use location data. We are entering a boom period for companies in the geo-sector. Its time to drop the term GIS. Let’s all call ourselves what we are: providers of location based solutions.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts.