Find the Right Location Tool for the Job at the Esri UC

By: Keith King

Since Father’s day around the corner, I will start off with something my dad has said to me often; “Son, if something is worth doing then it is worth getting the right tools for the job.” It took the purchase of a house and a couple of failed home-improvement efforts to fully understand the simple wisdom of those words.

When the location of a business’ assets, store fronts, customers, marketing efforts, or employees impacts the effectiveness, safety, or profitability of a business, it is worth having tools designed with geography in mind.

So let’s stick with my Dad’s “right-tool-for-the-job” concept for a moment as I pose a question: Have you ever tried to trim hedges with a steak knife? Probably not, but you likely can imagine how well that job would go. Business leaders are beginning to realize that the use of spreadsheets, graphs, and charts for data with GPS points, zip codes, addresses, linear references, etc. is a lot like…well, trimming hedges with a steak knife.

Esri has been at the forefront of building spatially centric tools for years. And this year, at their July User’s Conference in San Diego, I expect to see many new tools for business. Here are few things I think we will learn about.

New Lenses to Eliminate Geographic Blindness. Esri will give us new tools to integrate maps and spatial analysis into our everyday workflows and within our existing productivity tools through their ArcGIS Online platform.

Mechanisms for Integration. I’ve said it before, Geography is the tie that binds. Esri will roll out new systems for integrating and managing disparate data sources and systems. This will help organizations get one and only one “version of the truth”

New Accessories for BI: Esri has already released an add-in for IBM Cognos that allows users to integrate interactive maps into their BI dashboard. I expect to see more announcements around add-ins for Microstrategy, and possibly for Oracle, Microsoft, SAP or Tibco products. There could be others, but I do expect one glaring omission from this list…SAS.

Geographic Enrichment and Spatial Analytics: Marketers, Merchandisers, and Call Center Managers pay attention here. Esri has the data and analytic tools to take your product marketing, product localization mix, and your customer experience to the next level.

Systems to Automatically Push/Pull Data Based on Location: Do you want to automatically order your coffee every morning when you get within a block of your local Starbucks? Or, say you are standing in your pipeline right-of-way; do you want to know where the pipeline is? Where the nearest shut-off valve is? What is flowing under your feet at that instant, the temp and pressure? From coffee to oil and beyond, Esri is going to make all this feasible with their geofencing and geotrigger tools

On-the-Fly Processing: Esri is going to make it easy to process, visualize, and analyze incoming location data in real time. Their geo-event processor will be a must-have for logistics companies. Also, organizations who do crowdsourcing or reputation management will love the ability to visualize real-time location trending in social media.

Pathways to Big Data: Expect to see announcements for easier integration with Haddoop and Teradata

Imagery and Imagery Management: Need Imagery? Esri is going to show you easy and relatively cheap ways to get it through their ArcGIS Online platform. Or, have you already invested a lot of money in imagery or LIDAR? Esri is going to announce new and easier ways for you to unlock those assets so you can maximize the return on those large investments.

Tools for Building Tools: Do you need to build a quick and simple application to track a couple of hundred volunteers? Do you need a way to take an inventory of light poles but don’t have the time or budget for a custom application? Esri is going to make it possible to build our own tools easily and quickly with their Operations Dashboard, out of the box widgets, and application templates.

Resources for Startup Companies: Esri systems have historically been designed for large enterprise deployments. That has all changed. Expect many more announcements on how Esri is supporting the consumer and start-up communities

Delivering GIS as a Value Added Service: Esri is going roll out tools that equip Esri customers to provide their customers with location based tools. If you are in business you probably need to retain clients, increase margins, and improve customer satisfaction. Perhaps GIS as-a-service is a way to get that done.

In wrapping up, I am sure there will be many additional announcements and new tools to test drive in San Diego this year. I am looking forward to the conference and to finding out what they’ve been cooking up for the business world. And since business is worth doing, it is worth the time and money to get the right tools (Thanks Dad).

One final thought, if you find yourself in the great outdoors doing yard work this weekend, keep the steak knife in the drawer. Go to Lowe’s and get yourself a hedge trimmer instead. Steak knives and hedges don’t mix. Trust me on this one.