The Dead Simple Truth About Growing Your GIS is the third and final post in a Series titled “3 Keys to a Successful ArcGIS Online Launch” that has outlined best practices for establishing a solid ArcGIS Online foundation.
The first post in the series was titled Make Your Organization a Model and outlined the value of implementing Esri’s model organization best practices for the initial setup and configuration of ArcGIS Online. The second was titled How to Publish, Structure, and Configure Your GIS Data for ArcGIS Online and outlined keys to providing users with the content they need. This final post introduces how to identify GIS opportunities for your organization and discusses the one secret to your organization realizing the full benefits of GIS.
The Secret to Growing Your GIS
For quite some time now, GIS professionals have operated in isolation. Fielding requests for maps, performing some analysis (if lucky) and cranking out a map product. This reactive means of interacting with “clients” has allowed us to stay in our comfort zone and do our thing without having to explain our technology. After all, we are grappling with a GIS Definition Gap. This approach keeps things comfortable in our GIS world because clients already know what kind of map or app they want. We just have to create it. The drawback, however, is that the majority of users across the organization are not visiting us because (1) They don’t understand what we do and (2) They don’t see how it can help them. As a result, the majority of users are not realizing the benefits of GIS. So what’s the dead simple truth about growing your GIS?
“The secret to growing your GIS is… talking to people.” – Click to Tweet. Yes, it sounds so simple but is so true.
Unlock Your GIS Potential by Answering These Three Questions
There is generally a “hook” business need that drives initial adoption of ArcGIS Online. This could be mobile access to data, a specific web application, etc. Regardless, at the end of this project organizations will be scratching the surface on the many ways they can leverage the platform.
Understanding the process for both identifying new opportunities and capitalizing on them is essential to maximizing ROI. Central to this process is pro-actively talking to people. I refer to this as the iterative process because, for the most part, it can get executed over and over again with users across your organization. The process always starts with a conversation that generally begins with “Tell me a little bit about what you do.”. ** Try to avoid the Office Space effect **
Ultimately, the goal is to gather requirements and derive:
- What information supports their workflow(s) and what questions are they asking of this information?
- Identify the locational aspects of this information as it will dictate the content/data required
- Questions or operations generally guide application functionality
- This information will drive the process for creating the required information products (web maps, apps, etc.)
- How are these users going to access the information product(s)?
- This will dictate the actual information products you build and the means in which users consume these products.
- Who are the users of the information product(s)?
- This will dictate named users, share settings on items and potentially new groups
It takes practice to perfect this process, so start with existing departments and/or organizations that you already have a relationship with. There’s a good chance that you can replace the paper map products you’ve been giving them with an interactive map they can use on-demand. Either way, go talk with people, learn a little about what they do and help them through the technology we all believe in.
I hope you’ve found this series of blog posts helpful. Are there other “keys to success” that you’ve realized through working with ArcGIS Online? If so, please share them with us in the comments section.