Anyone who's been around GIS long enough will probably tell you its greatest personal appeal as a career choice is the dynamic nature of the whole system. Every day is a new day with GIS.
We learned early that GIS is the integration of Hardware, Software, Data, People, and Methods. We’ve grown to appreciate each of those five pillars: We love getting new hardware every few years and marvel at the new speed demon on our desk or in our rack. We eagerly anticipate the next new software release since that upgrade is certain to satisfy our current gripes and we can't wait to get our hands on the next pre-release. The logic of our data management is impeccable – something we take pride in – and is a perfect reflection of every hour spent on our data model. Methods are what make us look brilliant in front of our peers and we're pretty certain there isn't a spatial problem on earth we couldn't model and solve to produce a perfect result.
So where does Esri ArcGIS Online fit? It's all about the fifth pillar of GIS: People. The impact of GIS has been restricted for too long because of our inability to extend the community to the average business user. To fulfill its promise, GIS needs those people and the knowledge they share. And, unless those same people consume the location information the GIS delivers, we’ve missed the opportunity to truly transform the businesses and agencies we serve.
Esri AcrGIS Online gives those business users – the real people – the opportunity to have their map today - not in 5 business days when we can prioritize it, not in a month when we’ve thoroughly scrubbed the data and not in 6 months when we've added it into our Map viewer. It will force us to let some of our hardware, software, data out of arms reach, but the payoff in availability of GIS capabilities to our business users for making decisions is more than worth it. Throw in reductions in cost that help us all be more valuable and the elevation of the GIS analyst to an enabler of self-serve users and the proposition is even more enticing.
GIS is constantly changing thanks to our collective desire to make it better and our conviction that location really does matter. ArcGIS Online makes GIS better by extending its capabilities and results to the people making informed decisions. Now it’s up to you to embrace the reason why you love GIS in the first place.