Esri's Alan Cassidy talks with Matt Felton of Datastory Consulting

Changing the world, one business decision at a time.

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Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to step into the future at the Esri Business Summit, in San Diego, California.

During his keynote speech, president Jack Dangermond shared about how this year seemed different to him. That something seems to have changed. I felt it too. After working with Esri’s technology for more than 20 years, and coming to 12 conferences in that same convention center, something did feel different.

Here’s my take: In the past, there was a lot of show and tell, with a focus on how the technology works. This year, it just worked. In the past, there was a lot of talk about what’s coming soon. This year, Esri showed us where to actually find it. In the past, there was a lot of noise about new technology, where it’s all headed, and how we can use it. This year, a very clear “why” rose above that noise.

For me, this “why” statement was crystal clear: Esri has created this incredibly platform for collaboration, insight, and awareness so that we can literally create the future. Jack shared Peter Drucker’s quote that “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” And this landed with me in two powerful ways during the plenary.

First, Jack suggested that GIS technology has the ability to change the world, and those of us in the room are the only ones who can pull it off. While this sounded a bit arrogant or presumptuous, it resonated with the message I share frequently about Datastory. “We help businesses clarify their data through the lens of a map so that they can make better decisions.” It’s a fantastically, engaging way to see the world from a new perspective. How else might we change the world unless we begin to see it differently?

Second, instead of having his well-trained staff demonstrate everything, Jack asked two 4th graders from Sonora Elementary School in Springdale, Arkansas to share how they’re changing their world. And as cool as a cucumber—IN FRONT OF 15,000 PEOPLE— these two girls showed us how they influenced WalMart, explored the weather, and improved access to education. Without flinching.

It was pretty spectacular, and pretty darn inspiring. At Datastory, we’re changing the world one business decision at a time, and it’s helping businesses, people, and communiities thrive.

You may read this and think I’m just a GIS geek who’s been indoctrinated with a clever marketing message. I say you’re right. But what’s the harm in that, if the message is actually true and it is, in fact, changing the world?