Thoughts from the 2016 Esri UC: Your GIS peers want to be your friend
In my last blog post, I wrote about the energy that is always present at the Esri International Users Conference (the UC). Like every year, it was a huge conference with hundreds of sessions presented by Esri experts – people from organizations around the world. Each user-presenter had stretched the tools Esri provided and made that platform essential for his or her organization. Along the way, these users improved operations, service delivery, program effectiveness and return on investment. And, they did that very rare thing: they took data and presented it in a way that had meaning and context for their peers.
As you can imagine, this was an inspiring group to talk to and, at our OnBase booth, we had many conversations about the power of the Esri ArcGIS platform and how carrying that forward into an enterprise content management (ECM) platform has even more impact. It was a great experience to have conversations about two essential technologies – GIS and ECM – and imagining how an organization could benefit from them.
Here are some of the key conversations with Esri UC attendees:
Use that data
So many of the conversations at our booth began with “I have this data set…” and ended with how to further leverage the data that drives all GIS applications. We talked about how to avoid retyping data, especially for the people in an organization that might not realize the extensive data that’s behind the maps they use every day.
This is an interesting point. As an ECM professional, I think of the documents that overwhelm organizations, but GIS professionals live and breathe data. By connecting GIS and ECM, both platforms can deliver more value to an organization.
Use a map, please!
With functionality that started with OnBase 15 and expanded in the OnBase 16 Esri integration, ECM can deliver a map to a peer who might not normally use Esri. Beyond that, being able to geo-code documents and add them to a map that your GIS peer has produced puts those maps – and all the useful documents – in the hands of even more staff.
This was interesting to many of our booth visitors, especially given that data is so often trapped in paper documents and an organization may not have the time and staff to transfer to a data set in the traditional way. With OnBase, being able to bring those documents to the map in an interface that a non-GIS person can manage means that everyone can use a map. And, the map is more powerful for the completeness of the data behind it.
Use the data, redux
More than in years past, fieldwork came up in conversations. As I mentioned above, attendees were really looking for ways to leverage their GIS data, so the conversation quickly turned to using their maps on mobile devices – something that Esri ArcGIS easily supports.
They really got excited when we discussed how to take data from their maps and pre-populate electronic forms. Electronic forms would help them move away from paper and the tasks associated with it – printing, copying, updating. But, more importantly, leveraging their data to pre-populate forms vastly improved the user experience for staff considering the move from paper to tablet-based input during fieldwork. The speed of completing forms using a tablet would be incredible and increase the value of the data sets they’d spent years collecting.
Back to work
The dust has settled and most of the 2016 Esri UC attendees are back at their desks, trying to tackle their overflowing inboxes. This might slow them down for a few days, but nothing slows down their efforts to use the Esri platform to improve the work of their organizations. My conversations with them showed that they are searching for other platforms that can use the data driving their GIS applications, because they want to deliver more value for themselves and their peers. Because OnBase has recognized this potential, GIS and ECM can easily cohabitate, increasing the value delivered by the two platforms, leveraging the data just as these attendees hoped.
What did I learn at the UC this year? Your GIS peers want to be your best friend and they want their data to help you be more productive.