Friday, May 30, 2008

ESRI Business GIS Summit: Optimize Business with GIS

More than 300 professionals from banking, health care, insurance, logistics, manufacturing, media, real estate, retail, utilities, and related industries attended the 2008 ESRI Business GIS Summit in Chicago, Illinois, April 27–30, 2008. Attendees included skilled geographic information system (GIS) users as well as those interested in learning more about the technology. It is the only event of its kind in the industry.

This year's conference included keynote presentations from seasoned business managers sharing their experiences using ESRI GIS in their organizations. Presenters included Dave Miller, director, GIS and health care, Walgreens; Jay Zhang, Ph.D., vice president, JP Morgan Chase; and Dusty Clevenger, senior manager, strategic planning and business development, Archer Daniels Midland Company. All keynotes discussed how GIS has been beneficial as a solution to business problems in their organizations.

"The conference was an excellent venue for networking with other professionals in the commercial business space," says Artie McDonough, a GIS project manager with SNL Financial, a multisector-focused information and research firm in the financial information marketplace. "Not only that, but attendees had the chance to meet with software product managers. This gave us a chance to discuss how we use GIS applications in our own business and work together with ESRI to ensure that future solutions will include what we need."

Workshops and sessions ranged from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) presenting how it uses GIS for facilities management to Focus Brands, a franchisor of more than 220 restaurants including Cinnabon and Schlotzky's Deli, discussing how the deli used GIS to revitalize its growth strategy. British Petroleum (BP), along with New Century Software, discussed how GIS is beneficial in risk assessment. The American Heart Association outlined how it uses GIS to market heart-healthy campaigns targeted at the communities that will benefit the most.

"GIS is important for organizations no matter what size or industry," says Simon Thompson, commercial business industry manager, ESRI. "We do understand that organizations have different needs depending on their structure. Someone sitting in the audience from a smaller organization than Walgreens or BP might not be able to picture themselves using GIS, so we created a small-business track to run concurrently with our other sessions to address this concern."

The half-day track was organized by the University of Redlands through a grant funded by the Small Business Administration. Presenters from the University of Redlands; Murray State University; and University of Wisconsin, Eau Clair, and others discussed how GIS can be used in marketing, trade area analysis, and operations.

The University of Redlands is also working with ESRI on a Business Certificate in GIS program to be available online. The program is designed for universities and colleges interested in providing students an MBA program with an "emphasis in GIS". Classes will emphasize the use of GIS technology as a tool for making better business decisions.

The 2009 ESRI Business GIS Summit will take place at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver, Colorado, May 4–6, 2009.

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