Return-on-Investment for Geographic Information Systems (ROI 4 GIS) Panel Discussion

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As professionals we are aware of the benefits of GIS to our own organizations, both at the individual project level and by applying enterprise approaches. Although the coordination and governance challenges of each differ quite substantially, it could be natural to assume that many publicized and published Return-on-Investment (ROI) studies for GIS would be readily available. However evidence proves otherwise. Despite boasting 300,000+ GIS users worldwide, when asked on the pre-event 2013 Esri “UC” Question and Answer survey “Can you refer me to good documentation on ROI for GIS?” Jack Dangermond originally only referenced one study, done in King County, Washington. While certainly just an antidote from the software industry leader, it appears that GIS does indeed lag behind some other IT-based technologies in the process – formal or informal - of quantifying benefits against costs. While there may be valid reasons for this reality, the current economic climate is forcing many leaders, both public and private sector, to be more cautious and ask tougher questions than in the past before providing their “go-ahead,” resources, or funding. Does our industry even have adequate ROI methods, models, tools, and “know how” in the context of how transformational and horizontally applied GIS usually is? How can we overcome the difficultly in properly measuring the myriad of benefits GIS can bring while the costs can be so easily tracked? Do we even want or need to do this? What is the right business cycle for an ROI study? An assembled panel of professionals will delve into these topics and more by providing their perspectives, experience, “war stories” and opinions. Following the comments of the panelists, the audience will be provided ample opportunity assist in continuing the professional dialog on this increasingly relevant and important topic for the future of GIS. The Panel: Dennis Higgins, Client Services Manager, King County, Seattle, Washington Phill Thomas, Chief Operating Officer for Innovate! Inc., Alexandria, Virginia Joy Paulus, Washington State GIS Program Manager, Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Olympia, Washington Mark Ford, AICP, Mark Ford Associates LLC, Salem, Oregon Dan Haug, Director of Information Technology, Umatilla Tribe, Pendleton, Oregon Craig Rintoul, Management Consultant, PA Consulting Group, Denver, Colorado

Bryant Ralston

Bryant Ralston serves as the Senior Sales Manager and GIS consultant at Innovate. Prior to Innovate, he taught GIS and mentored GIS students while serving as an adjunct professor of Geography at the University of Montana, Missoula. From 1995 to 2011 he worked at Esri with his last position being the Senior Account Executive for Idaho and Montana. A noted authority on rural GIS issues and implementations, Mr. Ralston has an M.B.A. Certificate from the University of Montana and degrees (M.A, 1995, B.S., 1993) in Geography from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. He lives with his wife Hailey and their beloved Lab Kaycee in Seattle. He enjoys outdoor sporting traditions, vintage Commodore computers, and spending time grilling and smoking meats for family and friends.

Homestead 2
October 17, 2013 - 10:30am - 12:00pm
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