Day two of the 2009 ESRI International User’s Conference was a day of learning. Three professors from The University of Redlands discussed their work with using GIS to support small business. They confirmed one of my findings. That is, most small business owners do not understand GIS and are not aware of how it can be used to support their businesses. The issue becomes how to educate small business owners on the benefits, power, and use of GIS.
I met with the ESRI product managers to learn about the exciting and powerful new features that are available in the newest releases of ArcGIS, Business Analyst and Business Analyst Online. We also discussed usefull improvements and features that could be included in future releases.
Retailers from around the country and world gathered to discuss experiences and issues associated with using GIS to support their businesses. There were representatives from Starbucks, JC Penneys, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Walgreens, Culvers, commercial real estate brokers, and bankers. We shared common challenges and thecniques that we use to help retailers select sites that will be successful, performance prediction, customize merchandising to match the spending patterns of the trade area’s customers, determine market penetration, competitive intelligence, etc.
The most valuable take-backs were techniques that I can employ to help my retail customers survive and thrive in the down economy, and prepare for more prosperous times.