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What do you you need to know before starting with ArcGIS?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

 

WHERE questions are becoming more and more common. This new interest is increasing demand for GIS and mapping technology. ArcGIS is the most popular WHERE focused platform. But if you are new to this technology it can at first be a little intimidating. In this blog post our goal is to set you on the right track for success with ArcGIS.

Worry about the Technology Last

Too often we overhear conversations which start with the technology. Somebody interested in GIS (this might be you), and with little or no experience, is led down a technical path by a GIS expert. GIS can be confusing even to the most technically savvy. As you start your journey with maps and GIS, in your reading and initial conversations, avoid focus on the technology leave that until last. Sounds an odd suggestion? Keep reading.

Define the Problem

Start with the problem. Do you understand in detail your (or your organizations) challenge or problem which needs a solution? Can you clearly define that problem? For example:

– We need to understand better our insurance risk. Where for example are the homes we are insure which are in high risk areas?
– We are putting in place our disaster management plan, and need a software solution to help manage, analyse and display our data.
– We need to replace our map books with a centralised mapping system.

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Best Real Estate Sites on the Web

Friday, February 26th, 2016

 

As a technology company focused on real estate we always like to applaud others work. Case in point is the Web site we show in the video below:

As we show, these guys have done a great job providing a one stop shop for prospective buyers looking, in this case, for properties in Manhattan. We love how they use the map to help orient prospective buyers, providing the location context that so many real estate sites lack.

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Did you know you have a problem GIS can solve?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

 

Though I find baseball a somewhat bizarre sport (as slow as cricket with players in uniforms resembling pyjamas), I have always liked the Kevin Cosner film Field of Dreams. Its a wonderful idea “If you build it they will come”, but alas with little place in reality. It’s Hollywood after all. Cosner’s problem in the film was solved by building the baseball field. In GIS we are also focused on problems. The early part of any customer engagement for us is problem discovery. But what if an organization does not recognise it has a problem?

Did you know you have a problem GIS can solve?

Let’s step back. For GIS the world is split into 3 segments:

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Solving Business Problems with GIS: Location Strategy

Monday, February 8th, 2016

 

This is our fourth and last blog post in our series discussing how organizations can answer their WHERE questions:

WHERE should we focus our policing efforts?

WHERE are our assets – pipes, valves, culverts, insured households, stores, dealers, parks?

WHERE are our listed properties for sale?

WHERE does it make the most sense, given demographics, for us to focus our marketing efforts?

In our first post we discussed data and building/maintaining an accurate, complete and easily accessible System of Record. Our second post discussed GIS servers and platforms. The third post considered the GIS System of Engagement. Here we will underline the importance of a location strategy.

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GIS Answers the Where Question

Monday, February 1st, 2016

 

I’ve been wrestling with this one for some time: confusing terminology. And GIS is filled with it.

Those of us looking to drive GIS forward are still struggling to communicate the value GIS and location technology in general bring to solving business problems. Take for example my conversation over the weekend with a friend who has a senior position with an international retailer: “We use maps for our business”, he mentioned, “Google maps to help potential customers find their nearest dealer”. Location technology and maps are still seen as products for consumers: routing, pins marking a location, weather etc. As a consumer product, that is why Google Maps is so popular.

GIS Answers the Where Question

What we have to communicate is how location technology, which often outputs results as a map, can be used to help solve business problems. A good starting point might be to drop that term ‘location’. True, we do work with technology which is focused on providing location intelligence or location analysis, but few outside our (GIS) circles understand these terms. In contrast ‘where’ is universally understood.

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GIS Failure or Success?

Monday, January 25th, 2016

 

Now there is a scary title for a blog post. But really, when you look at your company, products and business plan are you preparing for the new world of GIS?

The cloud and mobile have changed the game. If you are relying on old methods and approaches your business may well hit the rocks over the next few years. Competitors will be looking to steal your crown: start ups run by young, hungry technically savvy folk. We are truly in a time of the new. I’m always hesitant about business books, too many are self promoting and backward looking, but Built to Last provides an interesting analysis on how successful companies adjust to change.

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Do Only GIS Folk Understand the Term Location Intelligence?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

 

I asked Joe this question just the other day” “If I said location intelligence to you what would i be talking about?”.

Joe has an MBA and has been in sales all his life. New to GIS, Joe responded “No idea, I’m thinking it has something to do with business intelligence maybe”. Joe’s response to me brought home a nagging doubt i have had about our “new” GIS terminology: terms like ‘location intelligence’ and ‘location analytics’ only mean something to GIS folk.

We’ve spoken before many times in this blog about our GIS vernacular. That we need to speak in terms understood by a wider audience. Buffering, spatial joins etc are just not gonna cut it. Finally I am hearing more voices in our community talking about focusing on the problem, and avoiding talk about the technology.

That’s a huge step forward.

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Is Entrenched Thinking the Biggest Challenge to GIS?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

 

Narrow, closed, resistant, intransigent.

If I said “I’m somewhat narrow minded, and change my thinking as fast as a super tanker can turn”. What would you think about me, and is that positive or negative?

I can guess don’t worry (I’m not if you wondered .. at least I very much hope not).

Entrenched thinkers have many of these ‘closed’ characteristics. Caused one suspects in part by personality and in part by the aging process. But whatever the cause, entrenched thinking is a huge barrier to change. And GIS is in the midst of dramatic changes.

Is Entrenched Thinking the Biggest Challenge to GIS?

Let’s look in more detail at what we mean by entrenched thinking. I remember in early 2000’s talking to a large company about this new thing called the World Wide Web. Their thoughts “We really cannot justify financially developing a company Web site”. I nearly fell out of my chair.

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Is GIS really Google Maps on Steroids?

Monday, January 4th, 2016

 

When you are in conversation and somebody asks what you do for a living, how do you respond?

“I make maps”

“I provide location intelligence to businesses”

“I solve real world problems using geography”

“I work with a technology called GIS”

Over the years I have tried all of the above. And am usually met with the same blank stare or a polite “very nice” response. I find the answer which provides at least a glimmer of understanding is:

“I work with a technology which is like Google Maps on steroids”.

I still cringe every time I say this, but everybody knows Google Maps and by including steroids in this sentence we add the (mental) image of muscle or power.

Is GIS really Google Maps on Steroids?

This is our 2016 reality (see our 2016 predictions). Less the competitive challenge of Google, more perception. We owe thanks to Google for making maps ubiquitous, but now need to overcoming the barrier which has become Google Maps. Googles ending of its march into the enterprise GIS sector – with Google Maps Engine – has drawn a line between a pretty map product (Google) and business solution (GIS). Both have their own unique strengths.

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GIS in 2016 = Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity

Monday, December 28th, 2015

 

Predictions, predictions. I’m not one to go off into la-la land when it comes to looking ahead at this new year for GIS. Drones, 3D, sensors etc I’ll leave to others. I like to go for a more grounded approach, look at what we saw in 2015 and extrapolate into 2016. But I do believe this is a time of huge opportunity for our industry.

GIS in 2016 = Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity

1. Integration of GIS into Business Intelligence (BI) platforms

GIS really forms part of the much bigger world of business intelligence. We can tout location intelligence (LI) until the cows come home. Alone that is a hard sell. But built into BI it becomes another business tool. We have already seen this process begin with the MapBox Tableau integration. We will see more of these integration’s in 2016.

2. New players entering the market

The location technology market is rife with innovation. We will see new players coming into the market in 2016. Many will not use the GIS tag. These companies will be building both new solutions, and better solutions than already exist: that means competition. Traditional GIS solution providers will see new, nimble upstarts enter the market. Lean and mean, these companies will begin to shake up the location technology market. Companies like Novotx who provide asset & work management software.

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