On one hand we see two giants on the global GIS software and service market joining forces with the integration of some components of Intergraph's computer-aided dispatch system (I/CAD) and ESRI's ArcGIS platform.
On the other hand, Google announced in February its decision to deprecate its Map Engine. Google is generally close-lipped about it, but ESRI was quick off the ranks with a generous offer for Maps Engine customers to transition to ESRI products (which includes software, training and conference attendance for free).
The customers who require carefully-managed, accurate and precise datasets will need to look to transition their business-essential systems to a new home. There are many possible homes aside from ESRI's offering, including many open source platforms, and most will already be on the case with a looming deadline of January 2016.
As the core functionality of Spatial software on offer becomes standard, much like Accounting products offer the same basic solutions. Consequently, it becomes less about what one product can do better than another, and more about how the products can integrate with other core systems, and about the collaboration of organisations who want to share data or processes with each other. Competition is good, as demonstrated by Intergraph building integration to ESRI's platform.
We do still see different approaches taken by customers using different softwares, and the last thing I would want to see is a monopoly. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Many other organisations have data stored in spreadsheets, databases, images, and documents; often relating to a location. For those with accidental, coincidental, unmanaged, or unstructured data, we have and will continue to see location awareness being the trend, with collaboration and integration being the key words. This does not necessitate the detail, or precision of an enterprise GIS; and out-of-the-box thinking and simple linking will achieve a lot.
Can't wait to see what these changes bring, and who we see located next.
- Bryan Clarke