By Guest Blogger Kirsten, Support Services
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t very excited to be headed out on a four-day convention adventure whilst seven months pregnant. However, despite my penguin waddle, the User Conference (UC) was a lot of fun. Not only fun, but it also proved to be a great way to learn more about Esri, the products we offer, and what’s ahead. Since I’ve been with the company only a few months, I found extreme value in everything the UC had to offer.
Monday’s plenary events were full of interesting information. I especially enjoyed learning how others are using Esri software and GIS in general to do amazing things. An application that would automatically report potholes from a driver’s smartphone without the driver needing to call or text the information is incredible, as is using GIS to help Rwandan farmers branch out into the competitive coffee market. Although I wish I could have gotten a better seat for the events, I was happy the sound quality was high and I could see and hear what was happening, even in a room with thousands of people.
The rest of the week was a whirlwind, filled with meeting a lot of interesting, creative, and driven individuals. Whether I was staffing the Support Services booth or walking around the exhibit hall, I was surrounded by hundreds of folks with valuable information. Even those with questions were providing our team the feedback we need to help ensure that our websites, applications, and services remain the best they can be in the future. I was able to inform visitors to our booth of some of the exciting things we currently offer, gauge how users have experienced these services in the past, and find out ways to make them even better.
I talked to booth visitors about the ArcGIS Ideas site, which allows users to submit and vote on ideas for our software, websites, applications, training services, and more. I told people who were already a part of this active online community about our other communities: the GIS Wiki, a place for anyone with GIS knowledge to share and learn more; our forums, a place to communicate with others working with the same software and issues; and our Support Services blog, a place for users to learn about Esri Support news, updates, patches and service packs, and technical support on a variety of common issues written by analysts.
Talking with people all day, every day, gave me the opportunity to not only get feedback, but also better my own knowledge and skills talking about our products and services. I was really able to get past any insecurities and shyness I had and just have fun.
Although I was too tired at the end of the day to enjoy any of the parties or special events in the evenings, I am already looking forward to next year when I’ll be able to walk freely with non-swollen feet and really experience all of what the UC has available.