We’ve talked in this blog about how mapping in the cloud has gone mainstream. How cloud computing has turned the world of GIS on its head, bringing a flood of new users who don’t even know what GIS stands for, to our websites and desktop applications. It’s more critical than ever to pay attention to these end users and their needs, because they’re dramatically different from the traditional GIS user, and if we don’t understand how our customers are changing, we run the risk of losing them, just as they’re getting to know the virtues of mapping.
A decade ago, the typical GIS user worked in a fairly large organization that had specially trained GIS staff to service the organization’s spatial requests. All this began to change as more and more industries saw the power of spatial technology and innovated by making intuitive mapping technology widely available to their organization. Then, when GIS moved to the cloud a few years ago, another huge shift took place – GIS moved beyond corporations and into our everyday lives with Google Earth™, Bing© Maps and Google Maps mashups. People were suddenly interacting with maps everywhere: on their mobile phones, iPads and other devices.
This is incredibly exciting for the GIS world, but these new users bring a whole new set of expectations that geo-developers and GIS companies need to heed.
We’ve put a lot of emphasis on map performance and regular updates in the observations above, but don’t be intimidated. Spatial technology is actually getting easier to use every day, and more and more niche companies have come on the scene to help you with continuously updated data streams, speedy mapping functions, and robust and reliable spatial infrastructures. That frees you up to concentrate on those end users in a bigger way than ever before.
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