Category Archives: Industry Focus

What’s Your Real Estate Location Strategy?

A New Strategy for a New Year

Time flies when you’re having fun and working hard. We are already a month into 2016.  Looking at my calendar reminds me that I’ve worked at Esri for 16 years! That’s not as long as some of my colleagues have worked here, but in the technology industry, that’s practically a lifetime.

In that time, I’ve watched GIS move from being a tool used by cartographers working in organizations’ mapping departments (plus a few early adopters) to being a business-critical part of any real estate company. It has evolved to keep pace with a new generation of CRE professionals who have become mobile in response to increasing demands for information anywhere and at any time.

Because of this, in my role with Esri, I am frequently asked to define the value of GIS and location technology for real estate organizations. It might seem obvious, but to me, the value is neither splashy 3D apps nor simply dots on maps. The value is less about pretty maps and snappy apps and more about developing a strategy that makes use of your current location data resources. I’m talking about a location strategy.


What Is a Location Strategy (and why do I need one)? Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Blow Up Complexity, Insist on Simplicity

Drive Business Value with the Three A’s of ArcGIS

Years ago, I worked at a power company for one of the most interesting people I can remember. Bob was brilliant, articulate—and paranoid. He didn’t trust anyone. He believed that many of the folks working for him were goofing off all the time. (Not me, of course!) He would even sneak around the city in the middle of the night to try to catch night shift crews in the act of not working.

Bob had a number of operations groups working for him. I ran one of those groups. He was also in charge of an administrative group that performed a variety of functions such as checking police detail invoices, preparing dispatcher reports, and filing circuit maps. Bob hated this group. He couldn’t understand why it even existed.

One day, Bob had had enough. He decided to simply blow up the department. All his managers—myself included—warned him that this was a risky move. We believed that if the group failed to exist, something bad was sure to happen. A critical report or regulation filing would go missing. We could get into trouble. Surely, this department was doing valuable work for the company. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Eight Ways Communities Can Make Elections Smarter

Empowering the Democratic Process with Intelligent Mapping

Elections are the foundation of democratic society. 21st century elections leverage technology at every step in the process to insure accuracy, openness, timeliness, and fairness.  From operations and public outreach to redistricting and campaigning, intelligent maps effectively serve the public and meet expectations.

Here are eight things you can do today to leverage the power of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to make elections smarter in your community.


1. Locate Early Voting Centers

Early voting centers allow participation by voters who may not be able to vote on the set Election Day. The availability and hours of operation for early voting centers can vary by jurisdiction, and registered voters are more likely to participate in a given election when they can find an early voting center located conveniently near their home or place of business. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus, Storytelling with Maps | Leave a comment

Ten Reasons You Should Attend the Esri Business Summit

I’d like you to consider attending the Esri Business Summit, being held in San Diego, California, June 25-28, 2016. This event provides an excellent opportunity to network with others from the commercial industry who are using GIS technology to create location strategies within their organizations.  The Summit will have content specifically for managers and C-level executives to discuss the business strategy behind the technology. Those who work with business data every day will benefit from focused presentations on workflows and solutions to specific challenges. There will also be lots of time to meet with Esri partners that specialize in focused commercial areas.

Ten Reasons You Should Attend:

  1. Network with peers facing common business challenges such as connecting a GIS vision to an enterprise strategy and understanding the business value of big data.
  2. Your executive team can attend sessions focused on the business value of a location strategy while your technical team can attend tracks tailored to some of your organization’s biggest business challenges. Continue reading
Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

When Customer Demographics Don’t Match Expected Purchases

Historically, people’s interaction, including where and how, has been captured by different systems. This is because people go through many channels: social media, online apps, email, coupons, or brick-and-mortar stores. Location can be used to collect this information and serve as a common denominator to bring it all together. And this can be easily done with Location-as-a-Service (LaaS).

LaaS is a new concept that combines the two main categories of cloud computer services—platform infrastructure and software as a service (SaaS). LaaS does this in three ways: Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

A Lifeline for Power Lines

Managing the Three Ts of Electric Transmission with GIS

Where were you on August 14, 2003, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time)? That’s when much of the northeastern United States was blacked out. No power. Sweaty office workers stuck in elevators from Manhattan to Cleveland. Traffic signals dead everywhere. Tons of food spoiled. At the time, people were still wary from the September 11 attacks.

The culprit for disaster this time? Well, there were many. But two of them were rather skinny Ailanthus trees that had become a little too big for their britches.

The trees grew too close to the heavily loaded Stuart-Atlanta 345 kV transmission line, a major power corridor between the United States and Canada. When transmission lines carry a lot of power, their conductors sag. As fate would have it, at the worst possible time, the sagging lines came in contact with those two little trees. So the line tripped out. This was one in a series of cascading events—which created one of the largest power failures in the nation’s history. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

What Black Friday Tells Us about Omni-channel and How Location Can Help

Black Friday 2015 saw the most tangible evidence to date that retail has changed. While it remains a key day for sales for both consumers and retailers, consumers are shopping in new ways. They are shopping earlier than ever (some stores opened on Thanksgiving afternoon for Black Friday shoppers) and more cleverly than before (price comparisons between local shops is easy to do thanks to a multitude of apps). The holiday shopping season promotions and huge sales peaks of yesteryear have been replaced by year-round provisions, advanced planning, earlier shopping, and mixing both online and in-store purchase channels.

Total in-store shopping was about the same as a year ago, but online sales grew by more than $1 billion, pushing total sales ahead of 2014. Email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014, while for the first time ever, the majority of online traffic came from mobile devices driving traffic through improved apps and mobile sites on tablets and smartphones. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Seven Easy Ways to Use Location as a Service

Retail is a location-centric business. Every transaction; every customer’s home address, online search, and IP connection; every coupon offered and used; every delivery, store, and missed omni-channel purchase—each one of these can be analyzed and connected to any and every other action by location.

If retailers use location analytics delivered as a service to drive their omni-channel initiatives, they can know so much more about their customer interactions and expectations. Individual transactions become touch points along a journey to purchase, and new patterns emerge from oceans of data—islands of concrete value and understanding that grow and interconnect, linking silos and breaking down barriers.

Here are seven easy ways to use Location as a Service (LaaS) to bring new insight and add value to every transaction to gain a more intimate understanding of the customer: Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Five Steps to Help You Find the Next Great Idea in Real Estate

Working with commercial real estate (CRE) professionals for nearly a decade has given me some interesting insight into this sector of the economy. The CRE sector can sometimes seem chaotic. Over the last decade, I have seen CRE professionals prosper where others have failed. While I don’t purport to be an expert, I have had the opportunity to see what success in CRE looks like. From my perspective, one trend seems to stand out. It’s not secret sauce or something someone learns from those get-rich-quick schemes we see advertised on late night television. The common thread among leaders in CRE is that they see opportunity where no one else does.


Information, Location, Strategy — the Trifecta of CRE Success

OK, that’s great, I’ve stated the obvious. But how do you do it? There is no magic opportunity wand; there is only what you know about the market. Therein lies the real secret to success in real estate—having access to information. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment

Localization and Location as a Service (LaaS)

Today’s customers expect a seamless experience as they research, engage and purchase across mobile, web and physical store locations. Successful retailers have put customer retention, marketing, and back-end IT systems in place to make sense of these behaviors in order to enhance the customer experience.

Many retailers are using localization, applying the unique nature of specific locations to reflect the product or service being offered, to integrate messaging and operations across these channels.

What is localization? In this context, it is using local market characteristics to place the right products at the right price in the right store at the right time. It requires location-specific planning and execution strategies across departments included targeted marketing, sales, merchandizing, store operations and distribution.

This movement uses data-driven processes and solutions, including gathering and analyzing local customer demographics, to better understand what needs to be offered in each location. Retailers do this in hopes of getting marketing, distribution, merchandizing, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations all working in harmony. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, many times, the results haven’t lived up to the hype.

Why is this? One reason is that retailers have missed one fundamental element,  the location in localization. For all the focus on integrating demographics, merchandizing, transaction history and store size and format, none of these systems have been designed to truly create, manage, and share location-based insight. Continue reading

Posted in Industry Focus | Leave a comment