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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jack Dangermond, ESRI founder and president, opened this year’s senior executive seminar (SES) on the first day of the ESRI User’s Conference (UC) with many observations about GIS now that the company has reached a milestone by celebrating its 40th year in business. "As a global society we are becoming more and more geographically literate…GIS is changing how we organize and communicate. Bringing these specializations together is facilitated in part by geography.

Dangermond is very focused on getting people out of their stove pipes of thinking.

"In public sector, the sharing of knowledge is critical and now we have a web platform to facilitate that. It’s my own personal belief that we have to move very rapidly and become more intelligent about what we are doing."

He stressed the need to think of GIS more of an analysis tool. "In the future, as the technology keeps evolving, we will have geography not simply for visualization. [There are] faster machines; virtualization; now cloud computing. It will take professionals that can stitch all the pieces together. As managers, this is one of the big dilemmas. Leave the data in place or create centralized access."

Dangermond asked a more rhetorical question about why GIS is expanding? "It’s becoming clearer about the business value. The world needs more holistic thinking and integration: across departments, across disciplines, across organizations. If I could convince you that [using GIS] is a 40x ROI in logistics wouldn’t you do it? [Plus] there is more interest from the IT world about integrating geospatial data," said Dangermond.

by Joe Francica on 07/12 at 07:08 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Bill Oates, the CIO for the City of Boston speaking at ESRI’s Senior Executive Seminar has an IT budget of $19 million in operations fund and $13 million capital funds. In speaking about moving from "silos" to enterprise GIS he said, "We’re a good New England city. We built those silos big and we built them strong."

The crowd erupted in laughter.

He finished his thought by saying, "We can’t support silos any more and we better get our act together."

by Joe Francica on 07/12 at 06:40 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The ESRI Business GIS Summit was combined this year with the ESRI UC in order to provide users with the opportunity to not only reduce their travel costs but to take advantage of the full User Conference experience. It was a good move and Mike Johnson, ESRI Business GIS executive said that he saw registrations rise because of that move.

At the opening session, he identified four business activities where corporations can leverage geospatial technology:

  1. Asset Management
  2. Planning & Analysis
  3. Field Mobility
  4. Operational Awareness: e.g.: one challenge is asset utilization and supply chain efficiency

Demos of ArcGIS Business Analyst focused on three scenarios and trying to apply a methodology to problem solving.

In a retail scenario for market analysis and optimizing store distribution the challenges focused on determining which markets to enter, expand, or exit; creating optimized retail networks, eliminate poor performers and add new location with best potential. The process of site selection has not radically changed over the years and the criteria are basically the same (revenue potential; basic demographics). Now, though, some of the analytical functions that have been added to desktop solutions allow more data to be modeled as perhaps seven or eight different mini-models that funnel into a combined retail model.

What are the current trends in retail? According to ESRI there is cautious growth in retialing. Users of GIS now ask how they can repurpose the investments in GIS to accommodate the existing economic environment such as reviewing leases and optimizing the existing network of stores.

In the transportation sector, many organizations are not leveraging the available data such as height and weight restrictions, driving directions could be clearer and the location of trucks is not always known. Solving the routing problem is not the issue but rather making sure that the optimization process is better than the "manual" method so that a true ROI is demonstrated.

But with fuel costs nearly half of what they were from last year’s record levels are users still enthusiastic about GIS? Again, according to ESRI, those rising fuel costs brought GIS technology advantages to the forefront. And when fuel costs declined, transportation and fleet companies realized what GIS can offer and they want to be prepared now for any future fuel costs increases.

In the insurance sector, the movement is to geocode to rooftop level accuracy. ZIP codes are no longer valid. Insurers need to pinpoint opportunities such that they are neither over exposed or missing large areas where business might be obtained and in doing so leads to better optimization of marketing dollars. Some are losing business because customers are being overcharged; in other areas, marketing dollars are wasted.  Therefore, solutions are needed where they can provide a more accurate understanding of risk and to determine accurate pricing for the specific location.

by Joe Francica on 07/12 at 05:36 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Michael Byrne, GIO of California commented that it took CA 1.5 years to get their broadband map in place. For the Federal broadband initiative where August 14 is the deadline for grants and November when the first maps are to be sent to the FCC and NTIA, time is getting short. Said Burn, "It wasn’t technical; it was cultural to get all the right relationships in place." This issue of relationship-building is still the most common problem at the state level…getting people to share data…and get their act together.

by Joe Francica on 07/12 at 02:29 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Michael Byrne, the Geographic Information Officer (GIO) for the State of California provided a summary of the work he has been doing in the job he ascended to only 3 months ago and is now working for Teri Taki, the state’s CIO. He made is comments at the Senior Executive Seminar at the ESRI UC.

The state’s IT capital plan has 122 new, approved project concepts.  Each concept is mapped to a strategic goal. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), Finance and others departments will develop these concepts further. The realization is that 70% of all concepts have collaborative opportunities and each could be aligned strategically. Doing this alignment is the thrust of this early work of the OCIO.

In his thinking, Byrne said that "IT should be as reliable as energy…just flip on!"

He further commented that, "IT needs to be used to transform lives and services…it actually has to do something to transform business." He also said that in looking at the enterprise technology for the state, GIS is their #1 enterprise technology with business intelligence (BI) solutions and transaction processing following.

Byrne believes that utilizing GIS will improve public policy decisions. "GIS is the new “white board," said Byrne. "It used to be we would talk to people around a white board; now we are using a map."

He also said that support from the executive level is very key. "Schwarzenegger gets GIS. Because he gets it, we’re definitely doing things," said Byrne.

California now has 200 terabytes of data and more than 11,000 GIS databases or projects with at least 40 state agencies and departments currently using GIS.

by Joe Francica on 07/12 at 01:53 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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