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GIS is Dead! Long Live GIS!

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GIS is Dead! Long Live GIS!

Robert White


The 2019 Esri Petroleum GIS Conference is now in the books. This was a banner attendance year for natural resource attendees with more than 1100 expected. Here are five trends I spotted walking the hallowed halls of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

  1. GIS is dead, but not so much. GIS is experiencing a great rebranding. Esri is repositioning GIS as a supporting actor to business workflows and processes having a spatial component. Fear not, all of that GIS stuff you learned over the years is still relevant, though the rest of the world is using different terminology - big data, mobile, data science, etc. For those looking for a job, it pays to call yourself a data scientist with geospatial skills as opposed to a GIS professional. Salary bump is as much as 25% and explains why many colleges and universities are now offering data science specialties and certificates.

  2. The Command Line is Dead - Long Live the Command Line - Esri’s Shannon Kalisky stole the show at a Plenary demo and an ArcGIS Notebooks for Data Science talk the following day featuring the integration of (open source!) Jupyter Notebooks with ArcGIS Enterprise at upcoming release 10.7. If you’re not familiar with this technology, it’s brilliant and features a notebook style interface where one enters Python commands using Esri libraries to produce beautiful maps, plots, charts and business insights based on wherever your ideas take you. It’s beautiful but very command line-esque. I’ve always thought that GUI engineers glossed over the power of the command line Here is proof that Esri engineers think so too.

  3. The number of vendors at the PGC was down, including a big and important one, but I attribute this mainly to mergers and acquisitions. If you are a budding venture capitalist and want to make a move into this rapidly evolving market, the time to do so is now before they are all gone.

  4. ArcGIS Pro is transforming the way we work. Most of the capabilities have now been rolled into this successor of ArcMap. On several occasions, I spoke to people who simply have too few cycles to move to the new software. We’re simply going to have to spend nights and weekends to redevelop our key workflows to stay up with this powerful new technology. I really like the way it integrates cloud, desktop and massive databases and provides a platform for enterprise needs. Now is the time to make an actionable plan to move to Pro.

  5. We also rolled out our new WhiteStar Legal Mapper Metes and Bounds extension for ArcGIS Pro and wanted to gauge the interest. The short answer: lots. Two of the keynote Esri plenary speakers are also enterprise users of WhiteStar products - Weyerhaeuser and Enervest. ‘Nuff said.