ESRI continues to lead with vision


One of the perks of not being associated with a mainstream vendor is that I have the opportunity to attend events like the ESRI EMEA Conference.

For much of my time in this industry I have been impressed by the relationship that ESRI has built with its users, many of whom were always almost religious in their devotion to the company. Very frustrating for a competitor. I like to think that in the time that we were building GDC we learned from that passion and built similarly strong relationships with our clients. So this morning was my opportunity to gain a slightly better understanding about how they have been so successful. In particular I had been looking forward to hearing Jack Dangermond’s keynote address.

He started by highlighting all of the different areas that the 1500 delegates worked in – from planning and land information, through public safety, security and defense to earth sciences, natural resource management and climate and conservation. Plus there were quite a lot of people from the business geographics side of the business. What showed through was the clear passion for the value of what people did with ESRI solutions particularly in the public sector, environment and NGOs.

He went on to talk about 4 changes that he saw in the way people worked with GIS (yes ESRI still talk about GIS):

  • How we abstract – Digital Geographic Knowledge
  • How we reason – Spatially Integrated Reasonoing
  • How we organise and communicate – Shared Geographic Thinking
  • How we work – Science Based Approach

The vision was summed up as “GIS will become a pervasive part of all human action”

After walking the audience through the technology platform, he closed by talking about the luxury of being a privately owned company that does not have to answer to shatreholders and in particular of being a company with a Social Purpose.

Even if you are a bit of a cynic you could not help but be engaged and inspired by listening to Jack Dangermond talking about the power of geography. I can understand why so many customers, partners and employees want to be part of that vision. I wonder how ESRI will maintain that energy when its founder finally decides to call it a day?