Esri Business Summit was All About #Healthybiz

By Karen Richardson, Esri

Executives from some of the world’s top businesses shared why a location platform is important to their business at the Esri Business Summit, which began July 18.

Located in the Hilton Bayfront, the Esri Business Summit ran for four days and included two days of high level talks from business leaders, the Esri UC Plenary, and paper and SIG sessions on Tuesday.

Retailers, real estate brokers, financiers, marketers, and supply chain and manufacturing managers, as well as sales professionals, journalists, and reporters, came together to share insights. Speakers discussed how a mapping platform can unveil the information companies need to find solutions that may be eluding them.

Jillian Elder, director of location intelligence at Walgreens was a popular presenter. Elder talked about the fact that Walgreen’s ability to serve 8 million people conveniently every day did not happen by chance. GIS started in site selection but has grown throughout the company. From ensuring the right mix of products at 8,200 different locations, to corporate strategies or mergers and acquisitions, ArcGIS gives Walgreens the most accurate look into the daily operations of its business and stores.

“The ArcGIS platform allows us to consume information across the enterprise, think about it in a spatial way, and then deliver it back out in a variety of formats depending on what makes the most sense to the individual users,” said Jillian Elder, director of location intelligence, Walgreens. “It isn’t just about data or technology — it’s about a way of solving problems.”
More than 375 attendees listened raptly to 20 different speakers from companies including Walgreens and National Vision.

Walgreens central GIS department, known as the Enterprise Location Intelligence team, developed WalMap, WalMap Pro and WalMap Pro Mobile to provide users across the entire company access to geographic insight. Developed as a set of customized solutions with assistance from Esri Platinum partner Latitude Geographics on Geocortex, an ArcGIS-based solution, WalMap apps fit user needs, anywhere, anytime and on any device. GIS also helps the company analyze data in near real-time and communicate information to the public, including Walgreens Flu Index™ a flu tracker based on in-store sales figures.

A Clear Business Vision

“Having a long-term strategy with a system like the Esri platform is essential to attracting the high-quality people we need to run our business. As long as the information is in our database, we can make anything happen.”

These powerful words were spoken by David Carpus with National Vision, Inc. as he kicked off day two of the Esri Business Summit.

National Vision, Inc. (NVI) is one of the largest optical retailers in the United States, operating more than 800 retail locations in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The company employs more than 8,000 people and includes several different retail brands, such as America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Eyeglass World and Vision Centers brought to you by Walmart.

As a national, multi-branded retailer and manufacturer and eye care provider, NVI faces unique challenges related to both marketing and professional services (in-store staffing and recruiting). NVI staff worked with Esri Platinum Tier partner Geographic Information Services Inc. (GISi) to help meet these challenges. GISi delivered an enterprise, web-based application that leverages the Esri ArcGIS platform.

Now NVI has a secure environment to host geographic information system (GIS) content and provide access to applications developed by GISi. The platform delivers authoritative spatial analytics, reducing knowledge gaps between departments. GISi’s applications have transformed what used to be a time-intensive, manual research process into departmental self-service spatial analytics. The Esri platform can be configured as an on-premises GIS. Organizations that have unique business challenges, like NVI has, can optimize their research and mitigate risk.

Supporting Sustainability through the Supply Chain

Paulo Simao, an industry director with Imagem, Esri’s distributor in Brazil, talked about Natura, a manufacturer and marketer of beauty, household, and personal care products. Natura sells through direct representatives and catalogs and has more than 1.2 million personal resellers located in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Mexico, and Peru. Natura sourcing practices conserve biodiversity, and its agroforestry farming and employment strategies build community wealth. Its business practices respect traditional knowledge and values and ensure benefits are equitably shared all along the supply chain.

Natura staff implemented the ArcGIS platform to collect and distribute supply chain data throughout the company. Production and harvest data, including the locations of thousands of participating farms and over a million direct distributors, is compiled on tablets in the field by using Collector for ArcGIS. This information is combined with business data from SAP and analyzed and published in ArcGIS Online as intuitive maps and apps.

Helping David Compete with Goliath

After working for four national commercial real estate firms over a 23-year period, David Hicks founded his own company. The David Hicks Company is a four-person commercial real estate, consulting, and brokerage firm based in Allen, Texas. The company, with average annual sales of $25 million, provides vision and strategy to landowners, helping them maximize their land’s value and return on investment through planning, zoning, marketing, and sales.

Once the sole domain of the larger real estate firms, location analytics is now within the reach of smaller firms. Esri’s ArcGIS Online helps Hicks organize information. The size and complexity of Hicks’s projects require strategic alliances with architects, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals, like Esri partner Datastory Consulting.

David Hicks talks to fellow attendees after his presentation on Sunday, which was delivered using Story Maps.
“We can work smarter with what we do, and I think Esri has really helped us in that regard,” said Hicks.

Hicks and his staff have established a relationship with Datastory Consulting to enhance the company’s website and implement ArcGIS Online, which provides an interactive mapping interface to help explore locations and information about them such as demographics. Leveraging geographic knowledge has helped Hicks maximizing his group’s time to compete with larger organizations and better serve customers.

Banking on Location to Serve Customers

Regions Bank is a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corporation, which is one of the largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage, and insurance products and services in the U.S. The organization has $122 billion in assets and is a member of the S&P 500 Index. Regions Bank has customers across 16 states in the South and Midwest and operates approximately 1,650 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs in these areas.

Grant Mullins with Regions Financial Corporation and Shane Jones with Microsoft Financial Services Industry take the stage to talk about the importance of partnering to be successful in business.

Using ArcGIS with Microsoft SQLServer and Sharepoint, Regions Bank adopted a location platform to help deliver better insights and highlight opportunities without interrupting their established workflows and best practices. Regions Bank now has a more in-depth understanding of the demographic and economic forces that are at work in their market. ArcGIS has driven network optimization work and innovation and helps them target growth in attractive markets.

“With a department of only two people, we have implemented ArcGIS on Microsoft,” Grant Mullins, Spatial Intelligence and Analytics with Regions. “With this platform, we can now support our entire organization. Now we are able to understand the unique characteristics of each place we do business, and support our customers in the best way possible.”

Originally published at on July 23, 2015.

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