If there’s an industry that might catch the attention of someone who wants to build a career, it might be geographic information systems, or GIS. More than a year-and-a-half ago, one analyst firm, Global Industry Analysts, expected the global GIS market to hit $10.6 billion by 2015. According to market research aggregator Bharat Book Bureau, the market will reach a 9.6 compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2016.
That’s a lot of growth and some career encouragement for someone with a GIS degree. But although things have picked up after the recession of 2009 and 2010, there are still factors slowing GIS growth. Ironically that’s good news for GIS professionals, because the specific factors are ones that are changing, which means that the future will likely be even brighter.
According to Global Industry Analysts, the factors slowing GIS growth include integration of GIS technology with cloud services and the perceived high cost of the technology. But are these problems, or just temporary brakes?
Start with cloud integration. That was true for years, but you could say the same for almost any area of technology. Cloud services have been growing over the last 10 to 15 years, but the ramping speed has radically increased. Almost any business service has become available over the last few years, and GIS is no exception. Industry standard vendor Esri has turned its attention to cloud delivery of its GIS systems and services. There are startups as well, like GIS Cloud that are expanding the choice of services, repeating the pattern found in so many other areas of cloud capabilities.
As far as the high perceived cost of the technology, there are already companies both large and small using GIS information and analysis. Yes, the systems may be seen as expensive by smaller companies, but the expansion of cloud services will help significantly reduce the cost and make GIS available to companies of virtually any size. And then there are also strong drivers of growth. As economic conditions have improved, so have many prospects:
Going forward, as the significance of geospatial technologies and content increases, conventional markets such as governance and infrastructure sectors would continue to strengthen. Defense is expected to remain the single largest market for geospatial technologies while demand from infrastructure development sector is also expected to grow.
In addition, as prices drop and availability increases, use will expand. GIS will continue to remain a growing industry with a strong job market that is favorable to professionals in the field.