BranchInfo 2010 BranchInfo 2010 BA

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GIS Enthusiasm at ESRI Business Summit

Photos & Video: Joseph Lackow
Last week's ESRI Business Summit was, for the very first time, visualized and presented as a business conference rather than a GIS conference.  This reminds me of how conferences are about business not econometrics.  What is critical to my business here?

Clearly, the answer to that question, at the Business Summit, and the broader ESRI User Conference, is the power of place.

Jack Dangermond was particularly compelling and inspirational this year, opening the conference with an explosion of applications from all over the globe and all over the chart, one positive "game changer" after another after another.  

Jacqueline McGlade of the European Environmental Agency talked about the private citizen's role in climate change, and was very moving and inspirational as well.  Just One Degree = catastrophic climate change (and one great big melting polar bear ice sculpture), but just one person can act.  Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots, same deal.

Timothy and Michele Schilling astounded everyone on Monday afternoon with their tale of improving the income of Rwandan families tenfold in a decade by using GIS to process and market Rwandan coffee (broadly available under the Community Coffee brand in the U.S.)  All of these presentations underscored doing good and doing well, the role of private for-profit companies in creating social as well as economic wealth.

At the Business Summit, Warner De Gooijer of Cisco (video) gave a great, clear explanation of how Cisco uses GIS as the backbone of their supply chain through which customer parts can be delivered anywhere in the world, from the closest warehouse to the needy customer, in within as little as two hours.  In the same set of discussions, Nigel Davis of Willis Re (the insurance companies insurance company) talked about using crowd sourcing information from social networks like Twitter to help evaluate and manage risk and losses in a disaster.  And Michelle Ellington of the University of Kentucky showed the history of facilities management at the university from paper maps to digital GIS, all the while using the process as a tool to bring stakeholders together.  When I asked the panel for a model of how GIS developed in their organizations, they all agreed that find a senior manager champion, build strong GIS staff with interpersonal skills, and architect solutions as close to the heart of IT as possible were the keystones.

Earlier, Matt Mikula of Edward Jones provided a glimpse of the history of GIS usage at Edward Jones that was somewhat like Michelle's, but with the usual reticence towards fundamental systems changes at many financial institutions - where it's usually best to be second and allow someone else to be bleeding on the edge, and where IT is often tasked with wiring together different generations of technology that ends up looking like something out of the movie "Brazil".  Another Matt, Matt Felton of MacKenzie Commercial RE, was as enthusiastic as anyone in recounting how he makes GIS relevant to a large number of very different people and functions in his organization.  Genial Pat O'Hagan of Starbucks, who has become a fixture at this conference, was as helpful as always in explaining how Starbucks puts GIS - and business intelligence - to work.

RPM Map Gallery Entry, "Geography at Work"
RPM did its part by participating in the Map Gallery - which everybody should do, and also bring guests and family to the Reception on Monday night.  And, Elio stood fondly by as our longtime friend and RPM client Scott McClymonds of ARVEST Bank won a SAG Award for Special Achievement in GIS.  We began extending and enhancing the customer database using GIS with Scott in 1993.

In short, this was the best conference since the economic downturn and pone of the best ever.  With 15,000 attendees, it was also the largest..

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ESRI 2011 User Conference Features Arvest Bank, Edward Jones

The ESRI 2011 User Conference in San Diego is nearly upon us, so get out those travelin' shoes.  Scott McClymonds of Arvest Bank will be receiving a Special Achievement in GIS Award, recognizing nearly two decades of GIS excellence at the Bank, on Wednesday.  Way to go, Scott!

The ESRI Business Summit will kick things off on Sunday morning July 10, where upwards of 200 business geography pros will gather to hear the latest and greatest from industry leaders - and each other.

Matt Mikula, IS Services at Edward Jones.

Added to the ESRI Business Summit speaker lineup is Matt Mikula, who is a key IS adminstrator for Edward Jones.  Matt is responsible for IS Financial Advisor and Branch Services, and supports many of the systems used by the firm's financial advisors and branch office administrators.  Edward Jones has been a pioneer shop for GIS, with a long track record (like Arvest) dating back two decades to Atlas GIS, the pioneering business geography platform which was purchased by ESRI in 1996.

Joining Matt will be a group of exceptional speakers from Cisco, Starbucks and others.  So, come on down, and hear about best practices, tips and tricks, new software features - and enjoy the usual raucous good time had by all.  Here's where to go for more information about the Summit, and about the User Conference, which runs all next week through July 15.