who is esri and Why Do They Matter-1

Who is ESRI and Why Do They Matter?

Brian Hailey

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At Autodesk University 2017, something happened on the main stage that many people through the years believed would never happen. Jack Dangermond, president of Esri, and Andrew Anagnost, CEO of Autodesk, announced a partnership between the two companies. Since you’re reading this, you are likely a user of Autodesk software that “helps people imagine, design and make a better world.” But you may not be that familiar with Esri. If they matter to Autodesk, they very likely will matter to you, so allow me to introduce you to Esri.

What they do:

Esri is a software company with a tagline that sums up its mission succinctly: “The Science of Where.” GIS (Geographic Information System) is the backbone of what Esri does. I’ve always liked to think of GIS as the original BIM (Building Information Modeling) process. BIM is data applied to objects in a model. Likewise, GIS is data applied to objects in a model. They just have different applications. BIM is for buildings, and GIS is for, well, just about everything else.

What they make:

Esri has several different lines of software that organizations benefit from. Their flagship product is ArcGIS Pro. This is an extremely powerful mapping tool that allows people to create maps, analyze data, compile and share geographic information, and more. From ArcGIS Pro, users can publish data to ArcGIS Online, a powerful tool to connect people, locations and data using interactive maps. Users can leverage ArcGIS Online to share information with field staff and everyone else in the organization. Field workers can use mobile apps for ArcGIS, like Collector and Survey123, which allow them to add data directly to a map from the field using a mobile device.

Who uses Esri software?

The primary users of Esri software are GIS professionals. They may work in municipalities, federal and state government offices, utilities, energy companies, etc. And with the relatively new collaboration between Esri and Autodesk, more and more architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) companies are jumping into the GIS game. In 2019 Esri announced a new named-user licensing model, making it easier and more affordable for a company to connect more employees to an enterprise-wide GIS.

Why should you use Esri software?

From a philosophical standpoint, if you’re not using Esri software, your competitors will probably beat you to it. Frankly, the last thing you need is for your competitors to have an edge over you. But how else can you justify jumping in, and what are the benefits?

Esri software is used around the globe, and the people using that software are the ones creating the data that we in the AEC industry will be using on our projects. It makes sense to use the same software that authored the data and avoid all the annoying data conversions. Additionally, Autodesk has created tools that allow its software to connect directly to the data in ArcGIS Online. Have a map that shows locations of the sensitive habitats in the area you will be developing? Simply connect to that data via Autodesk InfraWorks so you can see the information while you’re laying out the site. If by chance the author of that data changed it and it’s published through ArcGIS Online, you simply need to refresh the data in InfraWorks, and you’ll see the changes there.

The pressures on the AEC industry to build higher performing structures in less time present a challenge that must be solved. It makes sense to add the “science of where” when you “imagine, design and make a better world.” Although many of us never thought we’d see the day, we’re awfully glad it’s here.

If you’d like to discover how the Autodesk-Esri partnership can benefit your company, contact Applied Software today. Get the edge you need to achieve higher performance on your next project.