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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

GIS Help to avoid Singing

March 14th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I’m a terrible singer. Just awful. But does that stop me? You bet not. From football songs:

‘We love you Chelsea we do’

To the Bee-Gees (and I do the squeaky, trousers too tight version):

‘We are children of the world’

To Sweater Weather by the Neighbourhood (I might be old but knowing this stuff keeps me in with my teenage kids):

‘Cause it’s too cold whoa For you here’

My wife’s hates it. I say I could learn to be better. She responds “You have neither the time nor the talent. Stick with what you are good at” (wives can be so … truthful). So to today’s topic. Time and talent and getting help.

GIS Help to avoid Singing

We had two very interesting phone calls last week. With the same lovely chap. Two quite different calls. Mapping data and site selection were his two needs. He admitted he knew nothing about mapping, and had neither the time nor the inclination to learn. In our first call we avoided any technical discussion instead staying focused on his needs. After the call we agreed ArcGIS was likely a good potential solution. We also recognised plenty of hand holding was likely needed to help move from problem to solution, given his (and his organizations) lack of GIS experience.

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Curious about GIS?

March 11th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

There is that word curious again. Used in other blog posts I’ve recently written. Its one of my favorite words. Curiosity often leads to discovery. I remember being at university in London when young and finding tides fascinating. My curiosity got the better of me and I spent chunks of a semester learning the intricate details of tides. The discovery process was wonderful.

I first discovered GIS when I came to live in America. It confused the bejesus out of me. But with perseverance (and countless classes) it began to make sense. Though GIS has become my career, my curiosity around GIS continues.

Curious about GIS?
It would seem more and more people are curious about GIS. Many used to (still do) mistake GIS for simple mapping technology. I notice more questions around “What is GIS mapping?” and “What is GIS used for?”. Increasingly there is realisation that much lies behind this technology. New ways to answer both simple and complex WHERE questions; as I like to say.

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A Beautiful GIS Mind

March 10th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I love a good story. Its actually why I rarely now watch films. Today’s special effects ridden films cannot replace a good tale (see the story free new Mad Max as an example). I’m thinking about 3 Days of the Condor, A Beautiful Mind and so many other films with real stories. Hard to beat.

I’m in story mood today. GIS story mood. Ready?

John is a young, and very driven. A smart guy who started work for a software company less than 1 year ago. Much is expected of him in this new position. Some run away from pressure. That is not John. He has built a new team, and wonders how best to proceed. John’s teams task is to help new markets adopt the software. There are company guidelines he needs to stay within, but he wonders if he should take a tried and tested route, or break new ground? Software sales to those familiar with the software follow a familiar path. Not an easy sale (when is any sale easy), but the approach and language used are familiar. But sales to those new to this technology (its GIS) are quite different. GIS is not learned in 10 mins no matter how simple things become (20 years of working with GIS and I learn something new each day). John’s dilemma: how do I sell software to those new to GIS, without giving them some level of guidance. Checking in once a month he fears will not cut it. He knows GIS is far more than a simple software sale to those unfamiliar with the technology. This keeps him up at night.

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Please GIS Expert Shut up and Listen!

March 3rd, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

Will you be offended if I tell you to shut up and listen? Good then prepare to be offended (you’ll be better off for the experience believe me). If there is one thing we are all good at, and that is talking about ourselves, and our products. As soon as a potential customer comes knocking at our door .. off we go… blabbing on and on.

Did you know it does this … and that …. and oh we are quicker and slicker and 3″ longer than our competition.


Please GIS Expert Shut up and Listen!

What does a potential customer (this is for both internal and external customers) care about? Ask yourself that question. They care about solving a problem. Now if your product provides a potential solution to that problem .. a potential customer might just be curious. And how do you know if you have piqued their interest?

Somebody is curious when they start asking you questions

Let me tell you a story. I attended recently a tech conference. I was on a learning mission. Part of that mission was listening to sales and tech folk as they spoke to attendees. What did I find as I walked around … a sales word puke fest!

Truly. Potential customers being drowned in words. Admittedly this was not a GIS only conference but we GIS experts can be tech blabbers.

Start with the Problem end with the Solution

Let’s start by understanding the problem and end with the solution. Let me share one recent conversation I overheard:

Caller: We need an ArcGIS CRM integration

Responder: Why?

Caller: To map our data.

Responder: For what purpose?

Caller: To help our agents.

Responder: What is the benefit to your agents?

Caller: To help them assess and sell properties.

Responder: How do your agents work today?

Caller: They use paper, spreadsheets, charts.

Responder: How will this help your agents?

Caller: They will have data and visuals at hand quickly which means more deals and more money

I think you get the idea. Ask questions. Don’t launch into a product onslaught. Start with understanding their world today, their challenges and goals. If we as GIS experts don’t understand the problem fully how can we build out a solution for our customers?

During initial conversations around GIS implementations, keep the current problem front and centre. In the back of our minds we might have thoughts about wider use of the technology. Other organizational problems which GIS could solve. With this first problem solved that may then move us to discussion around a location strategy.

There that was not so bad. No bad words used. Its true we are all guilty at times of talking at others. We all need to tell ourselves at times to shut up. As Adam Carnow says “these are golden times for GIS”. Success is based on listening and understanding.

Interest in our approach? Contact us on 801-733-0723.

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

February 29th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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

February 26th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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?

February 24th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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

February 8th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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

February 1st, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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?

January 25th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

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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