What Separates Geospatial Leaders from the Rest?
With Matthew Lewin, Director of Management Consulting at Esri Canada
Duration: 43mins, Released Apr 06, 2021
Today's successful energy leaders know that GIS is not just about making maps. It's about harnessing location intelligence to drive more informed strategic and operational decisions. Are you leveraging GIS effectively in your business?
In this free one-hour session, Matthew Lewin with Esri Canada (author of Geospatial Strategy Essentials for Managers) will share how leading firms are using geospatial technology well beyond traditional mapping workflows. You'll learn how to view your geospatial data holistically to build the right mix of people, processes, and technology that will grow and sustain a robust geospatial program.
Matthew Lewin is an accomplished management consultant, technology strategist and business director. Matthew and his team specialize in helping organizations develop strategies to use geospatial technology to grow and run their business. Specifically, Matthew specializes in complex business and technology transformation using Enterprise GIS and Location Intelligence. Matthew has industry experience that spans the Energy and Resources sector, as well as Municipal, State and Federal Government agencies and other commercial sectors.
About The Pandell Leadership Series
The Pandell Leadership Series is a collection of free webinars featuring presentations by energy industry experts in a variety of specialized fields. Topics range from global business issues to recommended best practices in oil and gas; pipelines; mining; utilities; and the renewable energy industry (including wind, solar, hydrogen, geothermal, marine & hydrokinetic, nuclear and biomass power).
Please Note: Views and opinions expressed by the PLS presenter(s) do not necessarily represent the views of Pandell and its representatives.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Eliza, I’m the Customer Engagement Specialist here at Pandell.
I’m so pleased to announce I believe it is our seventh in the Pandell Leadership Series webinar. Today’s topic is What separates geospatial leaders from the rest? And we’re very excited to have Matthew Lewin as our speaker today.
Matthew is the Director of Management Consulting at Esri Canada and is our guest speaker today. He is the author of Geospatial Strategy Essentials for Managers as well as being an accomplished Management Consultant Technology Strategist and Business Director. Matthew specializes in complex business and technology transformation using enterprise GIS [Geographic Information System] and location intelligence. His industry experience spans the energy and resources sector as well as the municipal, state, and federal government agencies, and other commercial sectors. We’re very excited to hear Matthew’s presentation today so without further delay I’m more than happy to pass this stage over to you Matthew.
MATTHEW Thanks very much Eliza and good afternoon everybody. And you know, thanks again to the kind folks at Pandell for having me. I’m really quite excited to be here I haven’t done one of these Pandell leadership sessions before so, yeah really looking forward to delivering this presentation today and hearing some questions and thoughts that you might have on what I think is quite an interesting topic. Something that’s near and dear to my heart which is titled What separates geospatial leaders from the rest?
But first, those who don’t know me my name is Matt Lewin. I’m the Director of Management Consulting at Esri Canada. And in that role my team and I really focus on helping our customer’s organizations from many industry sectors from across the country really and around the world devising geospatial strategies and putting in strategic plans.
So, doing that work over the years and I’ve been in that role for over five years, and with Esri Canada for 10, well since 2010 anyway. A bit of a boom-a-rang in between there.
It’s from doing this kind of strategy work over the years that I’ve really noticed some organizations that we work with really thrive with geospatial technology. Some are really, somewhere in the middle and kind of plodding along. And then some others I would say are somewhat struggling. Maybe behind the curb in terms of getting the most out of their investment.
And so, to better understand this issue we decided to do a bit of research at Esri Canada. So, in 2019 we conducted a study. It was largely with IDC [International Data Corporation]. Which is a global market intelligence firm. And our goal was to tease out what specifically were the leaders in the industry, you know from across industries that are using geospatial technology, what is it that they’re doing and doing well that others weren’t so much?
And so, those results were written up into a white paper called Winning with Location Intelligence. Now some of you might have seen it and some of you might have not. It’s available for download still on esri.ca. But today what I want to do though is present you with those findings. And as well as, just elaborate a bit on the context that we’ve uncovered since that paper was released a couple of years ago.
It’s always nice to start at the beginning. And it’s really helpful I think to look at really how far the geospatial or GIS industry has come over the years. If you go back to say the 60s and 70s digital mapping systems and GIS really have their roots in what we call computerized mapping. And in those days, they were tools used primarily for basic map production. They were very much focused on the individual workflows. And much of it was used for what we might be scientific research or academic purposes.
And then as we move through the 80s and 90s things really opened-up. We saw the emergence of what we might call desktop GIS. That came on the scene around that time. And these were systems that supported not just individuals but teams and workflows that could support whole departments. And this included things like data collection all the way to data analysis and mapping.
Then as we move into the 2000s and then the 2010s the conversation very much shifted from desktop based geospatial analysis and GIS to the web. And ultimately to supporting entire enterprises. And so, the term enterprise GIS, enterprise systems came on the scene around the early 2000s. This was similar, like you said to trends that we saw with other systems. Whether it was CRM [Customer Relationship Management] systems, ERP [Enterprise Resources Planning] systems, business intelligent platforms. It was really the web, and specifically web-based services that allowed this. It really allowed systems to scale to the point of supporting now not just departments but whole organizations. And this has really been, what I would say is the dominate pattern of deployment for say the last 20 years.
Which really, then brings us to where we are today, and 2021, and where we are going in the future. And that is really around this concept of this geospatial infrastructure. And some may have heard of it and some may have not but what its really, about is connecting many organizations now together through a common set of open standards, open API’s, open systems, open data. And it ultimately enables collaboration across multiple organizational boundaries rather than the previous model of enterprise which was largely within organizations.
So, in terms of the technology we really moved from the level of the individual in the early days in the 60s and 70s. To the team in the department in the 80s and 90s. To multiple departments in the 2000s and the early 2010s. And now into the whole organization level in the current day.
And as a whole with this new geospatial infrastructure model, even with enterprise GIS, the potential of geospatial technology is just phenomenal. It’s greater than it’s ever been. You know these days when we talk about the technology at Esri we often talk about four systems. Or four ways that organizations really adopt and use geospatial technology. And you can see from left to right on this slide we often see it used primarily kind of first and foremost a system of record, where data, where imagery, maps are acquired, they’re stored, they’re managed, they’re integrated with other systems, so that we have that kind of single authoritative source of geospatial data.
We see it used as a system of insight where raw data that’s stored in that system of record is analyzed, it’s modelled, it’s interpreted for the purpose of reviewing spatial patterns, spatial analysis. Really to support that notion of evidence, based decision making.
We see it used as a system of engagement which means using maps and spatial content to communicate. This can be with customers, with partners, with employees, with the general public, media. This is really a way to pass on information as well as a way to receive feedback from those stakeholders. So, as an example we’ve all seen local and regional COVID-19 dashboards, they’re out there. Every community, many organizations have adopted them. Most of these you’ll probably have noticed provide updates and insights on the pandemic in some form of geospatial or geographic context. Whether there’s a map there, whether there’s charts and dashboard graphics they provide some information as to where the pandemic situations occurring, where vaccination locations are, hotspots, that kind of thing. This is really a system of engagement in action.
And then finally you put them together and what you get, these three systems, is you really get that system of systems which is division of the infrastructure. Where now different organizations really are collaborating on the bases of that shared data, those shared workflows, a shared understanding of geography. And like I said this is really the vision of the geospatial infrastructure.
And if you drill a bit deeper you can really see what the potential of the technology is. At Esri we call these patterns of use. And there’s generally nine of them and they’re really an effective way at understanding what are the modern capabilities, as I said, of a modern geospatial platform.
There are if you go through this model here you see there’s the traditional what we call patterns of use. Things like mapping and visualization, data management. These are really the foundation of digital geography. This includes use cases like production of maps, management spatial data sets, really the bread and butter of what we call geo.
As we step across the functionality ups into more modern use cases such as field mobility, this extends office workflows into the field. Includes things like navigation, field data collection, work order dispatch, vehicle tracking, people tracking all done in the field.
As we continue along, we get even more sophisticated patterns of use. We see things like real-time monitoring; Internet of Things [IoT] for example. Streaming data from smart phones from sensors. Making decisions in real-time. It includes advanced location analytics where we leverage the human led or even machine learning led analysis of spatial data. This involves in developing predictive models, it can develop diagnostic analysis, it can also include designing and planning systems. These allow for those 2D and 3D modelling, scenario-based planning of natural and built environments.
And then finally we have patterns that really reflect that system of engagement. Whether it’s bringing maps and analysis through executive dashboards; whether it’s engaging with your customers with story maps; or simply providing open access to your content through a public portal. All of these focus on making relevant geographic information easily accessible to those who need it.
So, back to the purpose of this discussion. The reality is that even with all this power available to use today there’s still quite a wide range of variety in how effectively organizations are leveraging and using these capabilities. And this slide here is from the IDC [International Data Corporation] research that I mentioned, and it breaks down industry, by industry sorry, the relative maturity of organizations in terms with how effective they are at using geospatial technology to achieve key business outcomes.
These outcomes can range from things like reducing health and safety incidents; it can include improving customer service; streamlining field workflows.
A range of business metrics were used in this study and they were relevant to all the various industries that were studied. And as you might expect we found some organizations are really, ahead of the curve. And then obviously some are quite behind. And even though, approximately I think it was 85 to 90 percent of the organizations that were surveyed or studied in this research indicated that geospatial technology is either critical or very important to their business strategy. Many of them are still struggling to get the most out of their investment. So, really the importance is well understood, you know the value and the role of location and geospatial is well understood across the board but the ability to really wield the technology well is still a struggle for many. And that’s true across all industries.
So, it begs the question what are the leaders, what are those at the top of that bar graph there, what is it that their doing differently or better shall we say to get these results? And what we discovered through that research was that organizations say in the top 10 to 15 percent of the study tended to think very holistically about their geospatial capabilities.
They don’t just focus on the tools or the data, they don’t focus on one department or two, instead they really think in broad organization wide terms. And they think in terms of people, process, and technology. And they think more specifically about how those three concepts, how those dimensions work together to achieve the results that they are trying to accomplish. And they work very diligently to establish a level of maturity across all of these areas.
You know as I was saying leaders really focus on to really build these highly effective programs really falls into these five key areas. And so those remain brief and then we’ll talk about them a little bit more in depth using some examples from the energy industry given that a lot of the audience here is from that industry and have experience working in oil and gas, pipeline, midstream, upstream, downstream, utilities over the years so I’ll bring up some examples of each of these.
But first in brief, the first is strategy. And so, this means that these organizations carefully define how they leverage data technology and expertise to advance their organization strategy. So, that’s the ultimate that leaders in these areas really focus on devising a healthy and carefully devised strategy.
The second is what we call literacy. And this refers to how well these organizations understand the many geospatial patterns of use that we talked about and how broadly they apply these patterns across their business. And we’ll see how in a bit.
The third is organization. And this refers to the internal processes, governance, the professional development that they put in place.
The fourth is technology and data of course but specifically refers to how they focus their technology stack from the ground up to support ready and secure access to geospatial data.
And then finally the fifth is culture. This means that they really work to encourage a, what I call a geospatial mindset or a set of behaviours where people even outside the traditional GIS, geospatial circles recognize the value and the importance of geography and how it fits into their work.
So, put them together these are five of what we call pillars of location intelligence. And within each of these five areas there’s a set of essential practices that I’ll discuss. But these are really what are the difference between those leaders that they commit to these areas and the rest.
So, the first and most really, important of these pillars I think is the strategy pillar. And what we found from the research is just having a strategy is one of the most important aspects of being a leader of driving value with geospatial technology and GIS.
And really what we found was that key to your strategy are really two things. One is that you have a wholistic approach. Meaning that you cover people, you cover process, you cover technology, you cover data and make decisions around how you will deliver your geospatial capabilities to your organization.
And the second is really the outcomes. So, it’s all good and well to have a really well-formed geospatial program but the outcomes that they achieve in terms of the value – and that could be things like cost, and that could be things like risk, it can be revenue growth – that the value is being driven through your program and that your business strategy is being enabled through your geospatial capability.
So, the example that I give you here is from an energy business in Canada. We work with them to devise a geospatial strategy. And a lot of the strategy really focused on building a corporate geospatial centre. And it was really focused on centralizing a lot of their capabilities inside the centre. And all the rest of their approach is really, around how they then can deliver value through the centre and to different business units. So, you can see the people side, they established a centre of excellence [COE], upgrade a lot their location analytics and real-time skills within that centre.
On the process side, they really moved to a self-service model and established a geospatial data stewards’ network. On the technology, they moved up to an enterprise platform, consolidated a lot of point solutions, a lot of legacy customizations, focused on implementing some quick wins that aligned with their strategy. And on data, they really focused on lifecycle management, and on establishing standards around data, meta data.
And so, all of these works together. They don’t really, there’s no people strategy or tech strategy or data strategy that’s kind of independent of it. There’s really one cohesive, there’s a set of sub-strategies, but a cohesive approach that’s really there to drive some of those key outcomes that you see on the right of the screen. A lot of the value that they are pursuing has a very risk driven, very operational efficiency driven business around improving the data integrity, reducing technical debt, reduce support costs, lowering the overall risk profile on the IT [Information Technology] side.
And then the strategy it’s all-around driving business innovation through the digital strategy. Which is the mandate of a lot of oil and gas companies these days. Lowering the H&S [Health and Safety] incidents through tools and apps that will help support that. And ultimately improving their regulatory standing through things like commissions reporting, air and quality tools that we’ll see in the next slide. But the point is that the leaders put a strategy in place. Whether it’s in the energy industry or if it’s in any sort of the streams in energy whether its outside in public sector. But these leaders really focus on building a cohesive approach that drives the outcomes in terms of value and strategy.
And so, like I said there were a set of more tactical specific practices under each pillar. So, for the strategy practice there’s really four that we uncovered in this research. And these were four practices that are really, essential in making sure that, in this case, the strategy is going to be successful. And there listed there.
So, the first is measuring outcomes. We found that leaders have a really, good strong rigorous way of measuring in qualitative at least but ideally in quantitative terms if their strategy and how their strategy is achieving their business outcomes.
The strategic alignment was a big factor. Which is of course is how the strategy is actually driving those overall objectives of their business. Stakeholder support is that we have broad support and engagement from the various users, from the various consumers of the information. And then leadership commitment. One of the biggest and most important factors. We found that through studies that the most successful organizations have very active, very engaged senior leadership, senior management, decision makers involved and invested in their strategy.
So, the next pillar here is literacy. And literacy cannot be underestimated. By definition what it really means – literacy really refers to an ability or competency in an area. And in the case of the geospatial realm what we found was that literacy is really reflected in two ways. That in terms of the breadth of use, so how many business units benefit from the geospatial technology and data? As well as kind of the depth of knowledge in geospatial. We call this acumen. Meaning how many of those patterns of use are and can be leveraged across the organization? So, it’s really about the depth in terms of patterns of use and breath in terms of deployment to many different business areas. So, it really reflects that this organization understands their business well and they understand how to apply their geospatial technology well in various and creative ways into those different areas.
And you can see here some examples of, again this is an upstream oil and gas operator, and some of the solutions that form the bases of their strategy. And you can see that in this case it’s covering many different areas. Everything from urban operations, air quality, emissions management, it’s into the emergency response realm, equipment logistics. Everything from operational to more strategic uses to ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance] to health and safety.
There was a recognition that geospatial technology could support and enable many different business areas. And in terms of the depth side of things, in the highlighted yellow there, you can see that there were also many opportunities to use geo in many of those patterns of use. It’s not just producing maps and doing analysis; there is field data collection components; field navigation; field dispatch; there’s real-time data consumption; there’s real-time analytics; there’s pushing information and maps out to stake holders in the community, out to the media, use for public relations especially around emissions management and more; sensitive reporting capabilities that they need so they can use it to build a more compelling case of how they’re managing being an effective emissions steward using maps and providing this information through the vehicle of the map. So, you can see there like I said, literacy is really about the depth and breadth of use.
And again, the essential practices we call these a couple of different names, but I like geospatial acumen. You know that’s a nice term for it. This really does reflect how widely deployed it is across all it’s patterns of use. And business integration which really refers to how broadly it’s deployed in the organization across different areas.
The next pillar is organization. And organization really refers to, we’ll call it the software side of your program. This is about your people. It’s about process. It’s about governance. And it’s really the thing that is really is the engine to what you’re going to do. So, in terms of the process and governance side of things it’s really how you deliver – how you set up and deliver your geospatial capabilities as a service to your organization. And then in governance it’s really how you oversee and how you set accountabilities and make decisions about your investment into geospatial technology.
And so, this example here is from a transmission business and you can see part of their strategy was really to focus on developing a service delivery model. And a lot of this model in this circle diagram here is based around somewhat those patterns of use or around sort of the service oriented geospatial services. Things like visualization and mapping services, data reporting and analysis services, even down to planning and consultation. So, the idea of delivering GIS or geo as a service is something that we’ve seen a lot of leaders do.
And then on the other side is governance. And this is something kind of the other end of the spectrum where we are talking about steering and directing an effective program. We see that those that are taking a really, focused view of governance and building up the appropriate decision-making accountability structure are really, really moving ahead well. They have a really, keen insight into how effective their strategy really is, how it’s progressing, what it’s accomplishing. They’re dividing up responsibilities and accountabilities appropriately.
In this case you can see it’s divided into a technical based working group, which is responsible for architectural decisions, platform decisions, application decisions. There’s a data group focused on data quality, data stewardship, meta data management for example. And there’s operational, there’s day-to-day workflows, processes, people. Those groups are there are really responsible for thinking about what is the best approach? What are the key strategic decisions that are required? Then they elevate those, kind of like a recommendation engine up to the strategic advisory committee to make decisions. Which ultimately goes up in this case to a steering committee and executive sponsors who essentially stamp it, approve it for funding, make investments, and ultimately say yes or no to the direction of the program.
And then on the people side, the main practice is really, around professional development. You know the people are the heart of your program. And in this case, it’s a case of how well are you nurturing and developing your talent? And there’s lots of ways to do this but the leaders we’re finding more, and more are developing really specific role appropriate development opportunities.
And in this case, a nice approach to it was to develop kind of a curriculum around different personas that appear across the organization. From a decision maker as you see, business user, field user, power user, professional. All have different needs; all have different interests in their geospatial world. So, they all have different education requirements, different development opportunities, different needs. So, dividing it this way, developing a really focused – you don’t have to do it by personas but certainly taking a focused approach around what is the broad need in terms of professional development across all the people inside the organization.
And again, here are the essential practices just laid out. Just like the last example I showed you, professional development, again targeted programs, education programs for individuals. A governance framework, this is a formal system of decision making and accountability, and structure to do that. And then support project delivery, really a robust way of delivering services and processes and support to the organization.
The next pillar is technology and data obviously, bases of the industry really. But this pillar really focuses not around, the nuts and bolts so much of the technology, and software, and hardware, or data, and data models, and environments. It’s really about the outcome of and the philosophy of your technology and data that delivers your geospatial services.
So, in this case what we are really looking at is that the leaders are really focused on implementing an environment that is scalable, is flexible in a way that it really prioritizes easy, ready access to geospatial information. So, the leaders have really made it easy. Because really what you want, and data is king in this world, and you want to make it as easy as possible to get – yes, some secure authoritative content and control – but really allow people to get at the information that they need. And then to start to use some of that literacy skill set that we talked about so that they can actually start to build and be creative with the data in a way that makes it valuable for the organization.
So, you can see here as an example from a midstream business they really focus their technology strategy around, migration. It’s really starting from an older model shall we say. Where they had to disconnected point solutions across different departments, different multiple data map viewers, on different technology stacks, and different departments. Moved it first into a more integrated solution oriented really around a lot of cross department workflows rather than department by department. As well as opening it up to other devices particularly mobile devices. And then three is really moving into a very broad integrated system that really supports many different stakeholders, workflows, devices, external systems, data sources all in this common environment. So, the point is, the emphasis has really been on that flexibility, that scalability of the technology to allow for real, easy, ready access to data. And not surprisingly, the two practices here reflect that.
The final example here is from the culture pillar. Something that I think folks innately understand but just have never really been able to articulate. And this is something that came up time and time again in the research as so, so important to really, really thriving with GIS and geospatial technology. And the culture really refers to how we cultivate behaviours, how we nurture a mindset, ingrain. What we call spatial thinking and spatial know-how into the day-to-day behaviors and activities of everyone who works at the organization.
Having a geospatial culture means that people think about geo as part of their day-to-day jobs. When they are in planning meetings, when they are communicating, when they’re sending out emails, when they’re sending out postings or bulletins to stakeholders or partners. It’s embedded in everything. You know you think about there could be a way to communicate this information on a map. Or there could be some kind of difference across the different parts of the world that we operate. That’s what culture of location or geospatial looks like.
And so, there’s many ways to do this though. It’s easy to say that as an aspirational kind of statement but to actually do this I think there’s some really key tactical ways to do this. And some that we’ve seen take foot are listed on the screen from this transmission business. One is to actually start a formal program around geospatial awareness. And start to do things like incorporating geospatial information; data statistics; maps all on the digital signage or on the corporate intranet within the organization. Having monthly presentations on the topics that can be a recorded session, posted up internally, can be hosted; writing articles contributing to the knowledge leadership within the organization or outside of the organization; having a landing site. So, all of this going in to promote and actively cultivate awareness of geospatial.
And the other side of that is, more formerly a community of practice where not only are you making the organization generally aware there’s now actually a group of people that investigate, research, facilitate new standards, new methods, new opportunities for geospatial on the day-to-day. And it really does promote that collaboration and knowledge transfer between various users.
And the key practices of culture, I guess many of these are embedded in the awareness program and the community practices previously. But the three real key cultural practices that stood out from the research were innovation. That means that it’s something acknowledged. Innovation as acknowledge as a key priority for senior leadership and there’s actual funding for innovation, ideally for geospatial based initiatives.
Collaboration means that it’s collaboration across departments and supported by leadership. That there’s mechanisms to do things like community of practice, help with this. Where they bring together, formalize a program to collaborate on shared opportunities or cross functional issues.
And then the final piece is promotion and awareness. This is just essentially the marketing, and selling, and awareness building around geo. So, taking real actionable regular steps to promote the value and power of geospatial can really, really go a long way.
Just to finish, like I said those are the five pillars and you might be thinking to yourself that’s a lot to take on, there’s a lot here. What practical steps can I take to mature, and improve, and grow a program? And I’d say my recommendation here, there’s really two main practical first steps that you can take. Running a diagnostic and then developing a strategy.
So, in the first case, and they kind of go in that order. So, in the first case, the diagnostic just means looking at where you are today. So, look at those practices. Run through a little bit of an evaluation. Are you weak? Are you in the middle? Are you strong? Do you have opportunities or key issues of any of those major practices that I discussed? How do you compare if you have this access to information? How do you compare some of your peers in the industry, or other organizations perhaps other industries that are experiencing some of the same challenges? And where are your gaps? Where are the major gaps? Where do you think the targeted areas for improvement? Is it in your strategy? Is it in your culture? Or are all those great but you have some serious technology and data issues? Which areas are priority? And figuring those out is important.
The second then is do something about it. That really means developing a strategy. A strategy to improve, and grow, and mature. It really all starts here. So, the focus on this I’d say is make it business driven. So, really focus on the needs of your business. Don’t do it straight from the technology side out. Start from the business side in. And then come up with a plan of action. And try to elevate and mature yourself along those practice areas. Make some key decisions. So, don’t be afraid to think about what people you need. What roles are out of date? What technology solutions need to be retired or brought in? And then ultimately get the leadership involved as well. So, get your leadership engaged in this process and committed to your strategy.
So, with that I’ll say thank you very much. Appreciate you for listening. If you like this material do follow me online, on LinkedIn. There’s my contact information if you want to connect at another time. We can talk in more detail about any of these topics. We can also like I said on LinkedIn or on our Esri Canada website we have lots of articles and content that we publish quite regularly that you can check out and learn more. And really, finally a lot of this material and other topics are compiled, written up into an e-book that we released just at the tail-end of last year. It’s called Geospatial Strategy Essentials for Managers and there’s the link below. Go in it’s really a compilation on topics related strategy, governance, or design, culture. All the good stuff that I mentioned in this presentation today. So, you can get it there, download it, have a read.
And so, with that I’ll say thank you and hopefully with the few minutes left take some questions.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Perfect thank you so much Matt. That was wonderful. We are going to dive into questions. Regarding governance in some ways spatial technologies is a specialized branch of IT, however there are some differences between GIS and other branches of IT and sometimes those differences can cause issues. Is it common for IT management to have a role on geospatial governance committees and if so, what things should IT leaders learn about geospatial technology in order to make good decisions and strategic decisions regarding that tech?
MATTHEW Yeah, okay and easy one right off the bat. It is important and I think it’s crucial that IT managers are involved to some level. Yes, and I always say this because GIS, geospatial technology it is an IT. It is an information technology thus it relies on its influenced by any of the many of the different IT standards; architecture standards, principles, polices of your overall IT portfolio. I do think that your IT manager, if you’re an IT manager, or if you need to deal with your IT manager it’s imperative that they are involved and understand what are the requirements? How the geospatial connects into and integrates with the rest of the IT portfolio? Just like any other system.
There’s some trepidation around often times you know because I think all IT managers don’t come from a geospatial background. They don’t know GIS. They’re a little bit nervous to say that I want to get involved with that. Usually, they’ll say well we’ll support your virtual environment; we’ll support everything up to the operating system level; and you’re on your own after that.
I think that’s a bit of a mistake. Perhaps you can do that as a kind of a practical day-to-day but knowing the trajectory of the program and the potential of it and the need to support it as a kind of critical piece of your IT is a role of your IT manager and they should be involved.
So, the second part was some techniques or tips to get involved. I think an IT manager should start with a little bit of education. No one has to become a GIS expert to be cognizant of its capabilities but certainly doing enough to know how it interfaces with the IT environment. What it’s providing to the users? What it’s providing to say that other enterprise systems are not? Whether it’s your CRM systems or your business intelligence platform. What is it that geospatial capabilities offer? And then how can you as the IT manager make sure that those are being done well, being support well by the IT infrastructure? Perhaps even how you can integrate your GIS support team into the proper IT support desk if you have that in place so that you are following best practices about service delivery.
So, a lot in that question, a lot in that answer but just as a takeaway yes it’s very important that IT managers are involved.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Great thank you Matt. Can you recommend any specific strategies pertaining to geospatial data provisioning?
MATTHEW It depends. I think - with data provisioning in terms of acquisition or collection. Because I mean you know data collection and acquisition could range from your, know externally sourced if you’re talking say imagery. If you’re talking about field data collection. I think the best advice I have is to think about the whole of your data acquisition, data collection, life cycle. And think about it as are you sourcing it from a trusted source? Whether it’s from your own people, or from a contractor, or if it’s from an external provider of information. Have a process to make sure that you’re not buying data twice, or three times, or eight times. I’ve seen that. So, I guess first start off with doing a bit of inventory of where you are sourcing your information from and if there is a lot of overlap, redundancy. With overlap with doing that. And then feed it into your validation and QA process, making sure the data is in fact meeting the standards that your organization wants. I’d say it’s ‘take a whole life cycle approach to data and data’, data period and you know part of that life cycle is acquisition and product provisioning.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Great. We’ll fit in one last question. Regarding some guidance on how to even start building a geospatial strategy. You know for those folks who are starting from the ground up.
MATTHEW Where to start. I believe start, like I mentioned in the last couple of slides, with your business so from the business on in as opposed to your technology on out. So, the first place to start is by understanding the needs of your users, or your departments in their terms. What is it that they are trying to accomplish in terms of their business goals, in terms of their issues, in terms of their needs? Then look at how GIS and geo are currently meeting those needs today, or where there falling short, or where there’s a lot of opportunity that you never thought about. Start canvassing across and understanding where the business needs are. From there you’ll have a bit of a mini case to say oh we’ve got a lot of pent-up demand here, a lot of need, a lot of unknown opportunities that we didn’t – newly known opportunities. From there I’d say then it’s a case of talking with your leadership to say we’ve got a lot of need and we need to put in a proper strategy. And that means going through and thinking about people, the process, technology compliment of what you have today and what you’ll need in the future to meet these needs. And then ultimately a plan to implement. So, start with understanding where the business needs are and how GIS may or may not support those areas and then work from there.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Great, thanks Matt. Thank you for joining us. For those folks who are interested in joining us for a future session we do have our next one lined up from a month today I believe and it’s going to be on the topic of Carbon Tax. So, if that interests you keep your eyes open for an invite or use that link to the website I linked earlier to stay on top of that and register through there.
So, once again Matt thank you so much for your time. Thank you to everybody who joined us today over the hour and I hope you all have a wonderful afternoon.
MATTHEW Thanks very much. Goodnight.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Bye.