Esri User Conference 2019 - How to Take Everything You've Seen and Bring Value to Your Organization

Blog Post created by AMillican-esristaff Employee on Jul 22, 2019

So you attended Esri's 2019 User Conference (and by now should have caught up on all the emails you missed while you were gone) ...Now what?  Is it time to panic?



First things first: Don't Panic

Actual video of me returning to the office and trying to catch up on work


The good news is, there’s no reason to panic! Hopefully this blog can help you connect what you saw at UC to the ways in which you can bring value to your organization, maximizing your investment in the ArcGIS Platform by helping to answer the following questions:

  • How do you bring value to your organization in a way that makes sense to the business units outside of GIS and IT? 
  • How do you utilize the power of spatial technology to solve business challenges?
  • Where do you start?
  • And how do you gain the ability to...

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See what I did there?


First things first, let's start with the Plenary.  If you missed the Plenary, or want to relive every minute of the day, the recorded Plenary presentation videos are available hereI will update this post as soon as the Tech Sessions are available for viewing!


Besides this being one of the most incredible and visually-stunning UC Plenaries I've ever seen, Esri staff and clients showcased a multitude of different Esri Products, Services, and Solutions, including the following:


Now that you've watched the entire Plenary Session again, here's my advice on how to move forward to bring value to your organization using the ArcGIS Platform:


1. Learn From Your Peers

One of my favorite things to do every year is pay attention to how other industries are utilizing the ArcGIS Platform.  I love to take one afternoon during the expo and walk around to the other industry islands and see what our incredible Solution Engineers from various industries are using the software to accomplish.  If you missed the User Conference, or didn't get the opportunity to explore the Expo this year (you'll have to come back!), this is where the Plenary videos can provide a quick sampling of what you missed.  For example, here were some of the workflows showcased:

  • ExxonMobil utilized ArcGIS Indoors and Survey123 to put geospatial technology in the hands of their employees and campus visitors to navigate on and report issues about their 3 million-square-foot campus
  • USAA utilized ArcGIS Pro, Deep Learning, Imagery, and Remote Sensing for catastrophe response to help their members get back on their feet faster; and most importantly, perform these insurance workflows in minutes, not days.
  • The United States 2020 Census utilized Web GIS, ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, Navigator for ArcGIS, and many other GIS workflows in operations and in the field in to motivate people to respond to the Census to ensure a more accurate count of the United States population.  This helps to allocate 900 billion dollars of federal funding to local communities every year.  They only have one shot to count every citizen once, only once, and in the right place. 


With so many users sharing their workflows, there's surely content in these videos that can have an immediate impact on your business.


2. Understand That GIS is More Than Digital Mapping

My incredible coworker and dear friend Sarah Scher wrote this post about connecting business with technology.  Her words inspired my post (with her blessing), and here are the key takeaways:

  • GIS doesn't exist to make maps - GIS exists to satisfy business needs and to solve business challenges
  • Adopt a 'Business First' Philosophy - have a clear and concrete understanding of what your organization is trying to accomplish
  • The Capabilities of GIS Fall into a Set of Patterns that Describe Geospatial Capabilities -  Mapping & Visualization, Data Management, Field Mobility, Monitoring, Analytics, Design & Planning, Decision Support, Constituent Engagement, and Sharing & Collaborating
  • These Patterns of Use Establish Connections - weave these together to address the business challenges identified in your 'Business First' Philosophy


This advice is industry-agnostic.  Take this and move into Step #3.


3. Set Realistic Goals

You'll notice that this item is in red.  This is the one thing that I always try to communicate with the users I'm talking to - whether at UC or any of the other 51 weeks of the year.  It's been my experience that this is the most important advice anyone could ever give (and not just about GIS!).  So if you don't read anything else on this page, at least read this!


Years ago before Esri, I was working onsite at a massive refinery in Southern California and had to sit in 6 (yes, 6) hours of Health and Safety Training before we could start.  The Health and Safety Director started the training by saying, "Remember that we are in an extremely complex facility that, if something went wrong, could completely level the entire Los Angeles metroplex - we're not out here baking cookies."  And as much as I would love to be on the Food Network baking all day, you aren't baking cookies either.  The way your organization operates on a day-to-day basis is equally complex.  Here's the advice that Sam Rosario had when we were talking about how to process the multitude of information that comes from the Esri User Conference: set realistic and time-dependent goals.


  • Develop a Goal for Something Your Organization Can Accomplish Using the Esri Technology in 30 Days
    • An example of this may be to build one Operations Dashboard for one workflow, or add 5 Named Users to your Web GIS Organization
    • Utilize this "low-hanging fruit" to accomplish quick and powerful wins for your organization. (I find that these are typically the most important for all organizations to understand the value of GIS!)
  • Develop a Goal for Something Your Organization Can Accomplish Using the Esri Technology by the End of the Year
    • An example of this may be to adopt a new Esri technology, or integrate a new data set
  • Develop a Goal for Something Your Organization Can Accomplish Using the Esri Technology for the Long Term
    • An example of this may be to integrate a new business unit, or for your entire organization to utilize Web GIS (ArcGIS Online or Portal) as their Authoritative Content Management System


Setting these goals gives you a road map on how you can execute something today.  Otherwise, everything you've learned at the Esri User Conference may stay as a wish list or philosophical ideas, and the potential you can accomplish with GIS will always stay an "if" rather than a "when."



4. Remember Your Resources

You are not alone!  There are a multitude of resources available to you to get started.  My job as an Account Executive is to help my clients work through these business challenges their organizations face, the goals they want to accomplish, and partner with them to help them leverage the ArcGIS Platform technology to quickly achieve business value.  I work specifically with Esri's Renewable Energy Industry, but no matter what industry you are in, Esri has an Account Manager, Solution Engineer, Professional Services Contact, Solution Architect, Product Manager, Digital Sales Contact, or Business Partner for you!



5. Take Action!

Always remember that YOU  are a resource too! No matter where you are in your GIS maturity, you too have the ability to use Esri technology to understand data, gain insights, See What Others Can't, and make better decisions. Whether you’ve just come back from User Conference, followed along from home by tuning in to the Plenary live stream, or are just finishing up this blog, the information you need to maximize your investment in the ArcGIS Platform is waiting for you to act on it.



Special thanks to Russell Sands for acting as editor for this post