Is the GIS Consultant Dead?

GIS Evolution

One question I get asked all the time is ‘How did CloverPoint manage to come out of the recession stronger than before?’ I always answer diversification, but in reality, I want to say unrelenting ambition, and an If-you-build-it-they-will-come outlook, but that sounds cheesy.
The truth about CloverPoint is this: we are no longer purely “GIS Consultants”, but shhh….don’t tell anybody.
As the longest standing employee of CloverPoint (other than Jeff Warwick – the head honcho) I have had the rare pleasure of participating in the company’s evolution from GIS analysis and cartography company to a full blown software development shop. We have come to realize that the power of spatial information is not solely in how it is stored, but how it is shared. GIS in the hands of the masses is a powerful tool that can bring social and economic change (as long as the ‘masses’ are not messing with my data!), but only if they are using it in an environment where they are comfortable, and inspired.
So, do I think the GIS consultant is dead? In short, no. These skills are still our core competencies at CloverPoint, and that will never change. There will always be a role for those who make maps and analyze/model data. The shift we ARE witnessing is GIS as a skill set instead of GIS as a career. It seems GIS applications are on everyone’s desk, tablet and mobile device. In just a few decades the technology has gone from Computer Mapping (70s), to Spatial Database Management (80s) and Map Analysis/Modeling (90s). The basement GIS consultant can still thrive supported by piecemeal government GIS Contracts, but a burgeoning IT company in the technically savvy capital city of BC has to be so much more.
So what does CloverPoint do now you ask? Well, we will save that for the next post…
And as for me – well, It has been a ride or die journey as I have had to carve out my own role in the wake of an economic recession, changing environment, and shifting economy, but in the end I am better for it, and I have the joy of waking up every morning, stoked to get on my bike and cruise to my office to hang out with my favourite group of geeks…
So, how has the GIS paradigm shift affected you? For the Better? Or for the Best?

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