There are two groups to learn from at any user conference: the vendors and the users.Host ESRI has many formal and informal ways to educate, and let's be honest, market to, its users.So do the many partners who attend specifically to gain the attention of the huge user base and other potential partners and distributors.The users present papers, but it's our sense most information is shared more informally while chatting over coffee or checking out the maps in the Map Gallery.Over the years, the best attended sessions have been hosted by ESRI staff, not the users.
Here are the questions we have on our minds as we prepare for the trip to San Diego.
- How are the online mapping services impacting your work? Has management said something on the order of "Hey, can you make it look/work/be as fast as/as cool as/as easy to use as Google Maps/Yahoo/MSN Virtual Earth?" If so, how do you respond?
- Do you use Web Services (ESRI's or anyone else's)? Is that vision growing in your organization?
- What technology from ESRI, partners or others are you "waiting for" with baited breath?
- At your place of work, what's your ratio of ArcInfos: ArcViews: ArcIMS users?
- What's the biggest change in your day to day work between the 7.x and 8.x or 9.x technology? Did it make a big difference?
- Have you used ArcGlobe for anything work related?
- Have you used any of ESRI's data models?
- Have you changed the way you work to support privacy issues in GIS data?
- How close is your organization to the adoption of an "enterprise GIS" - i.e.shared data and applications across multiple departments on either a single vendor or heterogeneous platform?
- Does ESRI adequately address interoperability standards with respect to OGC specifications or with other GIS vendors?
- Do you come to the ESRI Conference for vision or facts or something else?
- What's the role of ESRI in this "new world" of online mapping tools and APIs?
- Where is ArcIMS going? What's the next big step for "maps on the Web?"
- How close are we to the vision of "GIS for Everyone" that once graced an ArcView T-shirt?
- How are relationships with data vendors changing with so much data being available "seemingly" for free?
- What has to happen for geospatial Web services to take off? (It seems they have not, just yet.)
- Where does ESRI's technology mesh with (or not) open source technologies?
- What's the role of desktop GIS compared to five years ago? Is it different?
- How close are we to "maps on phones"? Should that be a goal?
- What is the development platform/language of choice these days?
- What role does the deployment of interoperability specifications play in your organization's software development? High priority? Low priority? Couldn't care less?
- Web or Desktop? Every vendor seems to be clawing to add one more feature or function to Web applications.How much functionality is too much and where do you draw the line with desktop applications?
- Business or Government? Where is the most potential for your products and services and why? What specific markets are now ripe for major growth?
- Europe or Asia? Which market is growing faster for your business and what does that mean to the overall GIS market? Are foreign competitors for GIS software a factor?
Second, ESRI sent a note to registered attendees on Tuesday about a document related to the pre-conference survey.Make some time to read it before you get to San Diego; it will help you plan your week and get the most from the opening sessions.
Look for regular updates from San Diego in the All Points Blog and in next two week's newsletters.