The Milky Way is currently the subject of great observational effort. This includes both ESA's unique Gaia mission, as well as a multitude of ground-based surveys. Several of these are already returning data of unprecedented depth and quality for large numbers of Milky Way stars. These new data are likely to lead to a quantum step in our understanding of Milky Way structure and evolution. Because the new data will allow us to study our Galaxy at much greater resolution than possible in other galaxies, we also expect to greatly improve our understanding of disk galaxy formation in general.