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5 Takeaways from the 2021 Esri User Conference

July 20, 2021
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At last week’s 2021 annual Esri User Conference (Esri UC), co-founder of Esri Jack Dangermond emphasized seeing the world through a “geographic approach.” According to Dangermond, GIS technology enables the world to integrate geographic information and science into the way we problem solve issues on our planet. In fact, throughout the plenary and technical sessions, the integration of GIS and map technology into different industries and edge technologies was highlighted as the future of connectivity.  

At Geonexus, we know that integrating Esri GIS software with Asset Management and Customer Information Systems is key for asset-intensive Utilities.  

From stellar plenary sessions to informative product demonstrations, we learned a lot at this year’s Esri UC. Read on to learn our top 5 takeaways from this year’s user conference, and let us know your key takeaways on Twitter or LinkedIn. 

Key Takeaways 

1. Digital Transformation is Here to Stay. 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our world in myriad ways. For one, the proliferation of remote work at the height of the pandemic forced organizations to embrace more digital solutions. According to McKinsey, companies accelerated the digitization of their processes by 3 to 4 years during the pandemic. We’ve seen this trend in Utilities organization as well. 

One of the UC sessions concentrating specifically on digital transformation noted that digitizing processes allows employees to focus more energy on high value work while technology takes care of repetitive tasks. And, digitizing allows organization’s enterprise systems to work together gathering vital data and information so that organizations can make better business decisions.  

Despite the proliferation of digital transformation in many organizations, a conference poll did reveal that data silos prevent some organizations from reaching their full digital transformation potential. 

2. Climate Change and the Utility Industry. 

The theme of this year’s UC was “GIS – Creating a Sustainable Future.” In his plenary session, Jack Dangermond emphasized how climate change affects every industry and person on the planet, including Utilities organizations. He is right – in the Gas Utility special interest group session, more folks than ever noted that climate change was their organization’s biggest challenge. 

But, according to Dangermond, with climate change comes new opportunities as well. He noted that many Utilities organizations are using GIS software to search for and operate solar and wind power farms. 

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3. Utility Network Migrations are Coming. 

Since Esri released the Utility Network (UN) in 2017, Utilities organizations have been abuzz discussing how their organizations would transition from the Geometric Network to the UN and what benefits accompany the change. This year’s UC solidified the hype around the UN, with several technical and information sessions about the new network. 

In fact, in a special interest group session of mid-size Electric and Gas Utilities, many noted that they would be transitioning to the UN within the next 2 to 4 years. This discussion aligned directly with what we are hearing in our discussions with Utilities organizations in the US and across the globe—UN migration is quickly becoming top priority. 

4. Data Quality > Efficiency. 

Here at Geonexus, we know that better data leads to better business decisions. At this year’s UC, we saw that theme echoed in several sessions. 

At one special interest group session, a GIS manager for an Electric Utility noted that he would rather his teams spend more time collecting quality data than be speedy in data collection. Ultimately, as he noted, getting better data upfront will actually increase efficiency down the line— we couldn’t agree more. 

5. Field Map Technology Simplifies Collaboration. 

Speaking of accurate data collection, one of the most popular UC sessions this year surrounded Esri’s ArcGIS Field Maps mobile application. With Field Maps, Utilities employees can use their phones or tablets to capture assets and observations and perform inspections on the go.  

The Field Maps mobile app is configurable, has an easy-to-use interface, and supports traditional or branch versioning. Plus, it simplifies communication between field and office staff by eliminating the problem many GIS analysts face when receiving messy, illegible paper documents from the field. 

Overall, this year’s Esri UC displayed the full power and value of Esri’s collection of products. As proud Esri partners, it was exciting to witness the power of GIS and geospatial technology in transforming organizations across myriad industries and the globe. We can’t wait to see what next year’s UC holds. 

Geonexus is an Esri partner and holds several Esri awards for Utility Network migration, release ready specialty, and more. Learn more about our partnership and why you should choose Geonexus for your asset-intensive organization’s enterprise integration needs. 

We would love to show you what our Geonexus Integration Platform can do for you and your team. Submit your information, and we’ll be in touch.

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