Have you ever looked at the market and thought you missed an opportunity with the development of GIS? It’s time to look again. The opportunities with GIS are still very much in the beginning stages, and the doors are wide open.

Esri is going around the country showing off the latest edition of ArcGIS 10.1, and the developments are all are geared toward helping users understand the system and decide how best to apply it. The most obvious example of this approach is a new pay-for-use program that lets users create geocoded maps out of Microsoft Excel data inside Excel 2010. These maps can also be loaded into and interacted with inside PowerPoint 2012. These tools make using GIS second nature to traditional businesses with no former awareness of GIS by enabling them to use maps inside programs they already use. This line of thinking is also being carried through similar programs, such as the free Arc Explorer Online and the $100/year home(non-commercial) version of ArcView, and is evidenced by the plethora of free training materials and courses on Esri’s website.

More than just a fancy database tool, a GIS that incorporates high-accuracy data created by a licensed land surveyor is providing recognized value for enterprises and businesses. In other words, GIS users are potential buyers of survey data. Land surveyors also have the distinct advantage of naturally thinking geographically. A database built, maintained and applied by a professional land surveyor is simply more reliable.

Real-time, multilayered, 3D geographic information is becoming an everyday part of life and business. As technologies mature and increasingly connect the real world to the digital one, the professionals who understand the programs used to make these connections are becoming more valuable. I receive business inquiries regularly from people interested in adding GIS to their business plans. I earn money by charging a consulting fee while putting together an initial database and going over what the information means—something I learned while creating field data and editing in the office.

How can you use GIS to enhance your business? The GIS evolution continues.