ESRI Senior Executive Seminar - A Gathering of GIS Eagles

By Joe Francica

SeniorExecSeminar_overview ESRI Senior Executive Seminar Summary

ESRI hosted its Senior Executive Seminar for invited dignitaries on August 6, 2004, some of whom were only peripherally exposed to GIS previously; others were experienced professionals, but all comprised a diverse crowd of users, executives, and politicians.Roger Tomlinson moderated this mini-symposium for over 300 attendees.Tomlinson opened the session with a quip by saying, "They call me the 'father of GIS'...well I admit I got the lady pregnant...but Jack Dangermond raised the kids."

He also said that, "these systems are selling very well, but they are not being used very well." In fact, this seminar was intended to enlighten the attendees with a variety of applications from local, state, or provincial governments, non-governmental organizations (NGO's), and businesses from diverse regions of the world.The presenters were true visionaries and spoke extensively on their use of the technology to inform constituents and preserve scarce resources.

In the opening keynote address, Jack Dangermond addressed the audience by stating that, "Geography is the science of our world, and our world is evolving ...Some of the impacts that are happening are concerning to me.We will need every amount of information that we can gather to understand the science of our earth ...GIS goes beyond simply the theories of geography and implements a series of concepts and tools that builds on those theories ...GIS is evolving to be the collaborative language that we need to both understand and to manage your companies, your organizations, your agencies ...It's about connecting, and integrating, and communicating ...Geographic information is not a niche; it is fundamental to the way we understand our planet."

These snippets of Mr.Dangermond's keynote, gives you some insights into not only his vision for GIS in the context of spatial information management, but the management and direction of his own company.His vision is one of ubiquitous dissemination of spatial information and software solutions, delivered through all types of computing environments: desktop, server, and the Internet.Of course, he would prefer that you would choose his products to do so.

Dangermond stated, "The theme of the conference is "GIS - The language of Geography ...We use these emerging tools not only to describe our earth ...but also to create the future ...GIS not about environmental radicalism; it's not about confrontation, it's about science-based, technology-based language, that I can describe really what's going on and design the future. Making that bridge, that common language is perhaps the foundation for why I think this language is essential for our future."

It is clear that Jack Dangermond has thought more about this business over the years than his competitors, and his ability to articulate a broader understanding of technology, data, and the processes that make them work effectively are tantamount to his company's success.We can talk all day about the fact that he has cornered the market on "the vision thing" but reality shows that ESRI, as a company, has succeeded because his vision has resonated with his customer base.The size of the user conference alone bears this out.

But Mr.Dangermond quoted one of his colleagues that was perhaps more of a revelation than anything I had thought about.He said, "GIS is going to be a framework for learning." Quoting Gil Grosvenor, Director of the National Geographic Society, Dangermond related that 'Kids in the future will learn geography through GIS.'

Just think about that for a moment.If schools begin to deploy learning aides for geography, the foundation of which are GIS software tools on the web or on desktops, we will very easily broaden the fundamental understanding of how important spatial relationships are and educate a new generation of GIS professionals.It is a great legacy that all companies engaged in GIS should view as an opportunity.No doubt many have looked at the higher education market and supported them for some time.The focus now may very well be on secondary education.ESRI has had a dedicated K-12 program for several years, as well as for Libraries and Museums.

Also during the Senior Executive Seminar, presentations were given by the Mayor of Honolulu, Jeremy Harris, and the Governor of Montana, Judy Martz.See Directions Magazine's exclusive interviews with both Mayor Harris, and Governor Martz.

Published Friday, August 20th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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