5 Keys to a World-Class Location Enabled Supply Chain – Part One

By: Doug Mills

supply chain
This is the first installment of a short series of blog posts written to help you build a world-class location enabled supply chain.

Building a world-class supply chain is not easy but there are five keys to help you get there: (1) Optimization, (2) Velocity, (3) Adaptability, (4) Synchronization, and (5) Profitability.  These are key attributes that proper use of location based technology and information systems can drive bring to the fight to achieve a world-class supply chain.  We’ll begin with optimization.


Using the location information you already have in your business systems to optimize your supply chain is the first of our keys to achieving a world-class supply chain.

Some of the largest costs in your supply chain are shipping costs.  Sounds obvious, fuel cost are high and few forecasters are expecting those costs to decrease appreciably in the near future. These shipping costs can be overt and easy to identify, what you are paying to the delivery service or to maintain your fleet of trucks. They can be more covert, embedded in higher unit costs from suppliers. Costs of having more goods in transit to you because they are traveling great distances are two examples.

Mastering the “where” lets you take charge.  Using the power of location analytics, you can optimize your supply chain by understanding where your customer or distributors are and where the suppliers are for the materials you need. You can optimize your supply chain, just by picking the right place to build a plant or make the right decision on which is the best of your existing facilities to assemble your product in because of its location.

By understanding where your materials are, while they are in route to you lets you manage risk by helping your avert storms, backups or even civil unrest around the globe. Having clear visibility is no longer a nice to have, it is essential.  For several decades now we have been driving Lean practices. Gone are the days of expensive inventories sitting in large warehouses next to our plants.  We are driving electronic Kanbans and supplier held inventory to arrive within very narrow windows to achieve Takt times. Understanding the total volume of goods in your supply chain helps you manage costs with greater depth of understanding.

Optimizing where your suppliers are is critical. Enabling buyers to visualize where the suppliers are for the commodities they control is a key to driving a world class supply chain. Unit price, and advantageous Terms and conditions are important, but being able to step back and see that perhaps an extra penny or two in unit price can be far offset by hundreds of dollars saved in shipping cost due to 300-400 miles of shorter transportation or the amount of risk to on time delivery there is because we able to identify those vendors that were closest to our needs.  Enabling the purchasing aspects of your supply chain with location information products at the very front end will help better control you your bottom line.

If the lanes can be shortened by becoming location aware you can:

1)     Reduce overt shipping costs

2)     Reduce risk to outside influences on my lanes

3)     Increase velocity in you lanes

4)     Reduce the total volume of materials in my enterprise at any given moment (this equals reduced cost in materials within the enterprise at any given moment)

5)     Increased velocity means there is an increase in the amount of materials you can add into existing lanes without creating additional lanes should you need, to accommodate spike demands (adds robustness without additional cost)

Using the location information and some very basic location analytic tools to optimize your supply chain you can make some real gains in reducing supply chain cost, increasing velocity, and reducing supply chain risk. All of these combined benefits of actively using the location information within your enterprise will drive you forward to a world-class location enabled supply chain.


Congratulations to Our GIS Ink Winners

Last week while attending the Esri User Conference in San Diego we announced the winners of our GIS-Ink.Com campaign.

Theresa and Angela both worked hard in lobbying for your votes and we are very excited that they won! Each has been sent a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition camera.

FID_9Theresa won the Geographic Ink competition with the art to our left. As part of her winning, she shared a bit more about what the Ink means to her.

“Thanks for voting me the GIS professional with the best industry-related tattoo! There was a lot of tough competition out there. I got my map tattoo after a year of working in the GIS profession, and a lifetime of travel. It reminds me that there is still mystery in the world and an adventure possible at every turn. It also keeps me humble. Mapmakers in the 16th Century thought they knew what was up, but when we look at Age of Discovery maps now, the “errors” and omissions are what we often notice first, rather than the beauty. In this age of GIS, GPS, and maps on smart phones, I think it’s important to remember that there is still so much left to discover.”

FID_36Angela won the Industry Ink competition with the art to our right. As a part of her winning, she shared with us the road she traveled to get her ink.

I didn’t get a tattoo until I turned 27. I actually got is as a birthday gift from one of most closest friends. I had been tossing around the idea of getting a cherry blossom tree, but I hadn’t given it the proper thought. The, when I got a 3 day notice that I had a tattoo session payed for on the day of my birthday, and I need to make up my mind ASAP, I decided that since the idea of the cherry blossom had been with me for more than 4 years, it might as well be ink on my skin for a lifetime.

I have never given it any special meaning. Not to this one, not to the others. And now that I am being asked about the meaning behind my ink, I can only think: nature. It is what prevails in every single one of my tattoos. And being a Geographer, a nature lover, an explorer, I cannot help but relate something so permanent for me to the marvelous forms of nature.

3 years ago and I love it more every day. I truly believe this will always be my favorite one, no matter which ones I get afterwards.

Congratulations to both winners and remember to represent your ‘Ink’ each day!

Even More Tidbits From The Esri UC

So we shared some Esri UC awesomeness with you guys a couple days ago and we thought we’d post a few shots from Wednesday and Thursday. Expect a full conference recap from us next week.


Wednesday was a day jam-packed with great events. We had the pleasure of attending a few more of our client abstracts.

Here’s Diego Negron from the USMC talking about Integrating Noise Tools and ArcGIS into RMTK.

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And of course it was awesome to see our client, Sean from Gwinnett County GA, talk about Web Technologies for Water.

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Then Sandrine Schultz from the Navy CNIC team rocked the house talking about Enterprise Data Sharing in Defense.

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Later we caught a peek at GISi Indoors head, Michael Healander, shooting a video with GISCafe.

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Thursday was looking great…we learned of our client, the CDC, winning a SAG award!  We couldn’t have been more proud of them.


And we had some great conversations happening at our booth.


Finally we announced the winners of the GIS Ink contest – Theresa Quill and Angela Jacques.  Both won a GoPro cam.

Overall we had a blast the entire conference.  We cannot wait to get home and share with everyone our experiences and what we learned while we were in San Diego.  Keep your eyes peeled for a mind-blowing full recap of the Esri UC next week!

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A Few Tidbits From The Esri UC

Ok…this isn’t going to be a very long post since we’re still at UC and busy is a bit of an understatement.  Rest assured you guys will be getting a UC recap that will not disappoint.  But so far we’ve been capturing moments here and there with our phones and through social media and perhaps now would be a great time for a brief Esri UC mash up.

We’ll start with Sunday…

Our Commercial GM, Keith King recorded a Podcast with Esri’s Karen Richardson

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Meanwhile the guys in our new business unit, GISi Indoors, finished up Wi-Fi fingerprinting all 1,107,600 sqft of the San Diego Convention Center.

2013 Esri International User Conference - San Diego, CA

Then we made our way to the Esri Business Summit Plenary.

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Darden took to the stage talking about their investment into GIS tools and how it helps them succeed.

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The Shopping Center Group presented on how they enable all employees in their company to be GIS users.

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Our own Keith King presenting on the spatial maturity curve here at the Esri Business Summit.

Keith King – Esri Business Summit 2013 from Jeff Vreeland on Vimeo.

GISi Market Manager, Charlie Blaesser,  talking about retail and how to leverage GISi Indoors for retail spaces.

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Jack mentioned GISi Indoors in his Plenary presentation!  He invited attendees to use it to navigate the convention center.


And while there were not very many pictures or video taken from our folks at the show (we really were very busy and semi-mesmerized by the sights and sounds), we did present our 3 lightning talks: Indoor Navigation, Gesture Control, and Making Great Maps.  More on those later (we promise).


Vine  video of the room where our client, City of Dunwood Georgia, presented their abstract – New Enterprise GIS: Lessons Learned from the Trenches.  They of course rocked the house and had awesome attendance.

And here’s another of our awesome clients, Greg Hymel from the City of New Orleans, talking about ArcGIS for Local Government in the Cloud.

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And we got to take a peek at our CEO, Lee Lichlyter, sitting down to record a podcast about the Arlington National Cemetery project.

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And finally…GISi Market Manager, Kevin Stewart, showing the South Carolina National Guard our new HTML5/JavaScript GISi Oneview!

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So as we said earlier, this isn’t a very detailed post…just a glimpse into the Esri UC from our vantage point.  We’re just a few days in and we are loving every minute of the time we’re spending with our clients, colleagues, old friends and new.  Be sure to check back in for an in-depth recap of the event.

[Check out the rest of our week with even more tidbits from the Esri User Conference]

So Where Will GISi Be at the Esri UC?

Well besides hanging around our booth, mingling with our clients, old friends, new friends, Esri peeps, etc., watching the plenary, and just enjoying San Diego in general; we’ll be attending a few abstract presentations from our clients, presenting a few client abstracts as well, hanging out and presenting at the business summit, doing a few lightning talks, table talks, and having a cold brew at the Fox Sports Grill.  We are absolutely thrilled to be going to this year’s UC and we hope to see you at the following events:

Client Abstracts

GIS Tools for First Responders
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 31A

Web Technologies for Water
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 29A/B

New Enterprise GIS: Lessons Learned from the Trenches
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Room 23A

Making Enterprise-Level Facilities GIS a Reality
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM
Room 28A

GIS for Crime Analysis
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Room 30D

GIS in the Cloud: Sky-high Benefits Forecast
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room 23 A

Modeling and Simulation in Defense
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Omni Ballroom C

Enterprise Data Sharing in Defense
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM
Omni Ballroom C

Geomedicine (CDC Presentation)
Thursday, July 11, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Room 30 A

Lightning Talks & Technical Workshops

  • Indoor Navigation
  • Gesture Control
  • Making Great Maps

Monday, July 8
4:30 – 6:00
SDCC, Ballroom 20 D

Indoor Location, Tracking, and Routing
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Business Summit

Business Summit Plenary Presentation
Sunday, July 7
8:30 – 12
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Business Summit Retail Executive Breakout Session
Sunday, July 7
3:30 – 5:00
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Networking Lunch at Business Summit
Sunday, July 7
12 – 1:30
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel

Business Summit Expo
Tuesday, July 9
5:00 – 8:30 PM
San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel


Southeast User Group Reception
Tuesday, July 9
5:30 – 7:00 PM
Upper West Terrace of the Convention Center

GISi Announces Formation of a New Business Unit – GISi Indoors

Mapping, positioning, analytics. GISi Indoors brings indoor insight and engagement to you and your customers.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – July 1, 2013 – GISi has officially launched GISi Indoors, a new business unit offering a suite of products and services designed to provide organizations and businesses with increased understanding of indoor people, places, and things. Just as GISi has been a leader in spatial solutions for more than twenty years, GISi Indoors will provide premier location technology solutions and consulting within buildings.

As part of the initial GISi Indoors offering of products and services, a prototype application testing some of the cutting-edge technologies in the emerging indoor positioning marketplace will be available for download on Android through Google Play (gisiindoors.com/esri-uc-2013). GISi Indoors will be launching the app to attendees of the 2013 Esri International Users Conference taking place in San Diego July 8-12, 2013.

A few features of the GISi Indoors app conference attendees can explore:

  • Mapping: Conference floor mapping, including vendor booths
  • Search: Find by room name or booth number
  • Routing: Indoor turn by turn directions and indoor positioning using the phone sensors and Wi-Fi triangulation
  • Analytics: Swing by the GISi booth to see where people are using the app (anonymous locations provided through opt-in setting).
  • Win Prizes: Prizes and coupons are sent to your phone while mingling in geo-fences throughout the conference.

To learn more about GISi Indoors, visit their website at gisiindoors.com. The GISi Indoors team is also active on Twitter (@GISiIndoors), Facebook (Facebook.com/GISIncIndoors), and Linkedin (linkedin.com/company/gisi-indoors).

Geographic Information Services, Inc. (GISi) is an award-winning location based technology and professional services firm headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with offices throughout the United States. Since 1991 our team of GIS professionals has been using Geographic Information Systems to solve staffing, technology, and business needs in markets ranging from Federal, State and Local Governments to some of the largest public and privately held companies in the world. For more information on GISi please visit our website: www.gisinc.com.


Rachel Ankersen,Marketing Coordinator, GISi
(205) 941-0442 x 120

Make the Most of Your First User Conference

Esri UC First Time

By: Susan King

Esri’s User Conference is just around the corner, and I’m sure many of you first-timers must be feeling just like Charlie holding that golden ticket.  The chocolate factory looked to be a wondrous place indeed, and while you are unlikely to see Oompas running about the convention center, I’d call that movie a good parallel to what I felt like experiencing my first UC thirteen lucky years ago.

Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years as you prepare for this one of a kind experience:


Check out the Esri UC Agenda Planning Tools to research topics of interest and find the sessions you want to attend.  Mix things up too… technical workshops can be great, but so can paper sessions, demos and group meetings.   Most importantly:  Have back-ups!  For every time slot on your agenda you should also have a back-up session or two identified.  I’d also avoid ‘Introduction’ sessions unless you truly have no experience in that topic – they are pretty basic.  If you are traveling in a group, then you have a wonderful opportunity to pool your resources, divide and conquer… so share agenda planners.

The sessions are really spread out and you will be walking a lot, so 1) wear comfortable shoes and 2) take a minute and look over the indoor maps for the convention center and other session venues (e.g. Marriott).   Better yet, download the UC Navigation app we built for your smart phone to give you turn by turn directions to the many rooms and halls you’ll be visiting.

There are lots of networking opportunities out here so don’t forget your business cards!


The technical workshops and paper sessions are great and often the meat of a first time conference goer’s agenda.  Popular sessions fill up FAST, so arrive early for those or you will not get a seat.  Also, be prepared to assess the match between the agenda description and the real information being delivered quickly and don’t be afraid to bail for your back-up session early.

Don’t skip the Plenary on Monday.  It is a rather interesting mix of product/new release demos, user stories and accolades.  It is broken up pretty well too, so if you really need to miss a piece you can schedule around what you are most looking forward to (e.g. demos).

A great place to learn about current trends and uses of the technology is Monday’s Lightning Talks.  These are built for those with a short attention span and usually take place right across from the Map Gallery and reception so you can float between them.


You are going to have access to a bunch of nerds during the week.  In fact, you’ll have access to people that literally ‘wrote the book’.  Jot down a list of any processes, tools or general questions that have been plaguing you and visit the Support Kiosk to pick the brains of the Esri team.  (You’ll find product developers there in addition to support folks.)  Any vendor of any GIS related software, tool or service is likely to be an exhibitor, so jot down your questions for them too.


Go to the Map Gallery (preferably Monday night to get the full experience and meet the creators).  Truly I’m not a cartography buff but these are just so impressive and it really is a great way to see what folks are doing out there.

Leave yourself plenty of time to hit the Exhibit Hall.  Of course you need to come by and visit GISi at Booth 2417, but visit the other vendors too and explore all of the new products and services emerging in our industry.  The Esri Demo Theatre is also up and running constantly in the Exhibit Hall with short, targeted sessions about products, tools and processes – another great opportunity to learn about something new and then hit the accompanying product island to test drive yourself.

The Esri Store is always lovely to browse, especially if you (like me) have no qualms about hitting the floor and spending some time to peruse the Esri Press books.


Attend Special Interest and User Group Meetings (Hint: You can search those in the Agenda Planner). Many of these meetings take place in the early evening and have a social component as well so they present a great opportunity to meet folks already connected to you in some way, plus you can make plans to meet up later.  There are often additional industry events in the evenings as well that you can find out about through these meetings.

On that topic, there are thousands of people attending this conference so pick a designated meeting place in the convention center that everyone will know if you are trying to meet up with folks (e.g. in front of the Esri Store or GeoLounge).

There are lots of other focused opportunities to meet fellow geeks too; for instance check out the Dev Meet-Up or Speed Geeking here.


During your busy days at the convention center, you can hit the GeoLounge upstairs in the convention center to relax and check emails.

If you are one of the few folks that aren’t going to find a lunch spot on your fave smart phone app, the Information Desk in the Foyer has hard copy maps for eateries and points of interest.  If you have 1 hour or less for lunch, try the food truck options on the lawn outside the convention center or you might be able to grab a quick bite in Seaport Village; the Gaslamp Quarter gets quite busy for lunch so just plan on the time and try to veer off the main drag.

At the end of the day, you should: 1) Leave the convention center, 2) Remove Geek Badge and accompanying GIS paraphernalia (e.g. map book, bag), 3) Enjoy San Diego with some of the new folks you’ve met this week.  The sense of community in our industry is one of the reasons many of us have stayed with it for so long.  Thursday night‘s party is back at Balboa Park again this year and if you’ve never been to the party or the park, it is worth checking out.  And remember… It is a long week with lots to do so Learn Lots, Have Fun and Pace Yourself!