I started this post two weeks ago…..wrote it….and didn’t publish it. If you saw the number of things I write and don’t publish you would probably be horrified….or happy. I’m glad I didn’t – I went back and obfuscated the names to protect the not so innocent. This all happened about two weeks ago – maybe three.
This week was quite interesting. I’ve been having a lot of thoughts as to things….state of the GIS industry, large user groups, companies…..my place in the world (from a personal and a business standpoint). Getting caught in your own echo chamber is a terrible thing – and I’ve drifted in and out of that echo chamber over the past year more than what should be normal. I think I nailed the door shut on the chamber last week.
I should start out by saying this year was interesting…the last 365 days. Being a consultant means you become canon fodder for a lot of people. After all – it’s not them on the line it’s you. I’ve gleefully danced into the battle and put myself at risk. Over the last two weeks I had several offers to rip into ESRI. I talk open source a lot. I’m all for commercial if it fits the task at hand. I really don’t care if it gets my client an answer and makes them happy. Unfortunately there is still a dividing line in the industry by some that it has to be one or the other. I do rip into ESRI more than I should. I have no doubt I’m the topic of much conversation since my blog posts have really picked up viewership in Redlands and I tend to get a lot of sideways glances from their sales team. Some of it has been intentional. Some not.
Over the last two weeks one conversation included the sentence “Why do you hate ESRI?”. It wasn’t aimed at me and it’s a longer discussion than I will get into. That’s a phrase that has come up several times over the last year to me from clients and from ESRI. I could point to every instance but one or two and go “I’m exercising a tech choice – not personal/professional hate – just a choice”. It’s a great phrase though. Instant guilt. It’s a great marketing phrase.
- I spent two days this week building (for me) a really decent map – in ArcMap. The client doesn’t care how I make the map – they need a map and they need their budget met.
- I’m spending today working in PostGIS/QGIS for a client for which I am managing data. The client doesn’t care how the data gets cooked – they need the data and their budget met.
- I’ve got a job starting soon where it’s a mixed bag – open source server back end and probably a commercial front end. Client doesn’t care – they need the information and their budget met.
The only people that really seem to care on my end are a few die hard fans of one side vs the other. Then there is me screaming budget. Now I will get a bit pushy if it comes down to me gaining a client. If my idea or solution is better every option is on the table. I typically try to go “client need”, then “client solution”, and then work with “client budget” then keep “client happy”. I don’t care about the software as much as long as it works and I can explain it.
That’s mostly why I nailed the door shut on the echo chamber. I’ve got a goal. I’ve got a business to run. So I can’t be bothered with the politics any more. So when someone calls for ESRI blood – I’ll probably walk away. If I get the phrase “You’re that guy that hates ESRI” – I’ll probably walk away. I don’t hate anyone – I may not like your business practices – but that’s not hate.
Politics are a terrible thing in the GIS Industry these days. As Nicholas said it’s damaging to the industry. Not that most care – they have shorter term goals in mind. Mine ended up getting a lot longer and loftier this week.
So don’t worry – every solution – be it commercial or open source – is at my disposal and in my tool box. I’ll pick the best one. No hate implied or intended.