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Starbucks has spent the last several years developing a custom Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program called “Starbucks Atlas,” which allows real estate partners to “see” all 16,664 locations within the 55 countries where they have a presence. The “Atlas” tool has propelled Starbucks into location intelligence. Starbucks, a leader in Business GIS processes, uses GIS for market planning, spatial analysis, research and analytics, strategic consulting, competitive intelligence, new market entry, geo-demographics and information management. See, they are more than just a coffeehouse.

Patrick O’Hagan, Manager of Global Marketing Planning for Starbucks, is an advocate of processes and data filtering. Using GIS, Starbucks has replaced mass amounts of data, which nobody really had the time to go through anyway, with actionable intelligent solutions.

At last month’s Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) User Conference, O’ Hagan candidly talked about how Starbucks is using GIS to become more “glocal,” a term that describes the act of thinking globally and acting locally. (Read this http://www.casestudyinc.com/glocalization-examples-think-globally-and-act-locally and this http://robinyap.com/?p=548 for more information.)

For many of us GIS users, the ESRI User Conference is the highlight of the year, as we network to our hearts’ content, with other GIS nerds from around the globe. The conference hosts 15,000 attendees, from over 100 countries, which play out to be an outstanding display of diversity.  Government, managers, analysts, teachers, health professionals, engineers, police officers, and business users all join together to share knowledge within the vast GIS community.

For the GIS team at MarketStar, the ESRI GIS Business Summit held during the conference is a forum for gaining valuable knowledge to keep us on the forefront of excellence in helping our clients understand spatial patterns.

Presentations like O’Hagan’s gave great insight into how companies are leveraging GIS to improve marketing and sales capabilities.

Another presentation of note came from Matthew Felton, Director of Research, GIS, and Mapping for MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services. MacKenzie uses GIS and market intelligence to guide the commercial sales efforts from appraisals to investment sales.

“GIS informs the conversation,” Felton said, as he shared story after story of the brokers who come to him daily needing help with a spatial question, and the success stories as GIS becomes the solution to the answer.

Felton is right, GIS does inform the conversation. It opens doors for understanding ‘who’ lives around a location, which then leads to better marketing to suit the locals.

And for GIS fanatics, the conference was a refreshing dose of knowledge, networking, and sharing all wrapped up in the pleasant atmosphere of being surrounded by people who understand the acronym, GIS.

Read more of Amy’s thoughts about GIS and the ESRI User Conference by visiting the SmartBlog on Leadership.

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