There’s a lot out there about how geographic and geospatial information systems, or GIS, can help companies improve marketing, operations, strategic planning, capital planning, environmental impact studies, supply chain management, and asset tracking, among many other things. The technology finds its way into high tech, energy, health care, utilities, government, manufacturing, and service industries. That’s just a start.
But what many of the articles don’t mention is how GIS can be important to your tech career, as Dr. Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University, told CIO Magazine. There are a number of reasons, but they boil down to two intersection trends: the greater application of GIS in the world, and the need for people who can put the technology to work and understand the results. Rather than the name of a single software package, GIS incorporates many areas of knowledge, including database management, data analysis, visualization, systems integration, mapping, and geography. All of them must be present to make a GIS strategy work for a given company.
Someone has to provide, if not all those skills, then the understanding to pull together into something useful what those skills can do. But most companies will lack expertise in mapping, geography, geotagging data, and the techniques to use location as a way to integrate other types of data.
Although organizations may assume that all they need is someone with enough technical competence to set up systems and jug out results, they would still miss the experience in applying GIS to significant problems and understanding how to apply the technologies and techniques in multiple ways within a company. Once one function sees GIS in action and how it can solve real problems and also deliver insight unavailable in other ways, the use within the organization will start to spread.
Understandably, a company, non-profit, or government agency will turn to technical people for help in the implementation. But the use of GIS requires a grasp of how the technologies need to be used, modified, and controlled to help various aspects. Because GIS is increasingly being put to use, existing knowledge of the technologies and techniques becomes a competitive advantage when looking for a new job.
That is why GIS training is important to your professional background and credentials. If you are ready to implement GIS in a significant and strategic way in a company, you offer valuable expertise that the company probably lacks, and that many potential competitors aren’t able to supply.