The Road to UC
Jim McKinney is no stranger to Esri conference attendees. As ArcGIS Program Manager, he regularly graces the stages and podiums of the Esri Federal GIS Conference, the Developer Summit, regional user conferences and of course, The Esri UC. We sat down with Jim recently to get some insight into what he’s preparing for the UC and what he looks forward to each year.
How many user conferences have you attended?
I’ve been at Esri for 25 years and I’ve been to all of the Esri User conferences since 1990. The only one that I partially missed was when my kids were born, five years ago.
That’s a lot of user conferences! How has the event changed?
I started going to the User Conferences when they were held in Palm Springs, California. The first user conference I attended had less than 4,000 people. I can honestly say they’ve just gotten better each year. Not just bigger, but better. As the technology has evolved and as people do more with it, they start being very innovative. The Esri UC has become this place where users can all come together and take part in a great community.
Have you started thinking about this year’s User Conference?
The teams I look after, the desktop teams, have already started working on sessions for the UC. We are focused on creating great balanced content across all Desktop software. We will feature workflows in our presentations, and use the software to illustrate how to accomplish real tasks. And we are stressing this approach with all the presenters.
What are you doing at the conference?
I expect to be doing a lot of listening. I take great notes on what users tell me they need in the software in order to make them successful. I look forward to sharing our ideas for new features and functions – we usually do this in the ‘Road Ahead Sessions’. But this year, with the first release of ArcGIS Pro, we are also spending time on Intro sessions to get folks who are new to Pro up to speed quickly and easily.
My team and I use the UC to ‘ground truth’ feedback on what we are planning on building into the software. If folks at the UC really want something and it’s valuable to them, then we get reaffirmation of that and it helps us set priorities as to what is going to go into the next version.
As an example, last year, we announced ArcGIS Pro . When I talk to users at this year’s conference, I am looking forward to hearing about what they have done with it. We know people are stretching the limits of the software already, so it’s a wonderful time to sit down with them and understand what they are accomplishing and where they want it to take them next.
What is your favorite part of the Esri UC?
I am personally blown away by the Map Gallery. These aren’t just beautiful maps, they are rich with analysis and storytelling, and they were created using GIS software.
What would you tell people who haven’t yet attended the conference?
It still amazes me what I learn at the UC. It’s really gratifying for all of us to see how innovative people can be across thousands of domains, and find support throughout the whole GIS community. The family of users that we are all part of is unlike any other professional domain. Our mission is to help you the user and as long as we can keep doing that and you keep growing, then we are being successful. It’s a real powerful thing and I really enjoy it. And if I were a user, I wouldn’t miss that experience for the world.
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