2023 Esri UC Highlights & Takeaways

Last month, ROK Technologies attended the largest GIS event of the year, the 43rd annual Esri User Conference in San Diego, CA. The conference attracted nearly 18,000 in-person attendees and more than 20,000 online viewers. Esri Founder and President Jack Dangermond emphasized the importance of GIS professionals in shaping a better world and addressing global challenges. Our team had an incredible time learning, teaching and sharing! Check out our highlights and key takeaways! 

This Year's Theme: Sustainability & Geography
Creating the World You Want to See


Jack Dangermond underscored the role of geography in sustainability. He referenced US President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address and the power to abolish poverty and preserve life, highlighting that today’s focus is on sustainability. “Now, it’s about sustainability,” Dangermond said. “Sustainability starts with geography.”

The theme echoed through the User Conference – participants discovered how to leverage GIS capabilities to solve problems, build shared understanding, and create the world we want to see.

The Plenary, like always, was a highlight, full of energy and inspiration. It is always great seeing what the world is accomplishing with GIS.  Jeremiah Ervin, Strategic Account Executive shared, “a highlight for me was Steven Boyes and team sharing the details of their multi-year journey navigating Africa’s rivers in the Okavango Wilderness Project and how GIS could help protect the primary source of water”

The Highlights


Key Speakers at the Event included:

  • Steven Boyes, National Geographic Explorer, shared insights from navigating Africa’s rivers and the importance of GIS in protecting the Okavango Delta’s water source. 
  • Richard W. Spinrad, NOAA Administrator, discussed the New Blue Economy, leveraging ocean data to predict changes in fish habitats and plan for the future.
  • The US State Department shared the collaboration with private industry to launch the Conflict Observatory, using GIS to document atrocities in conflict zones and track cultural heritage sites.


New Products and Capabilities:

Esri announced so many new ArcGIS capabilities that it was hard to keep up, but here are a few highlights. With so many new features and functionalities rolling out at record pace, there is more and more of a need for GIS Managed Cloud Service Providers, like ROK Technologies. Cloud MSPs take over the system maintenance and ongoing management so that GIS organizations can take advantage of all these new offerings in real time.

ArcGIS Pro: Added features, such as enhanced map appearance control, geomorphon landforms tool, and hot spot analysis comparison.

ArcGIS Online: Support scalable vector graphics (SVG) uploads, introduced Places layer, Arcade for on-the-fly pop-ups, and Enrich Layer tool for data analysis.

ArcGIS Reality: Launched reality mapping products for creating 3D GIS experiences, leveraging imagery and elevation data.

ArcGIS for Excel and Microsoft 365: Enabled geocoding, mapping, and data enrichment.

ArcGIS Monitor: Simplified system performance monitoring for GIS administrators.

And one more very important highlight…

An important UC moment centered around Climate Change and how we need to tackle this on a national scale. Jack Danermond and NOAA Administrator, Richard W. Spinrad and UK’s National Weather Service CTO, Richard Bevan discussed how access to the right data is critical to decision making:

“Today, given the challenges of climate change, it’s not enough to measure this or measure that, it’s bringing it all together and seeing it in context,” Dangermond said. “It’s about this breakthrough of integrating everything we know so we all understand that we’re part of one ecosystem.”


We Contributed to the Conversation

We led an exciting live session titled “CapEx vs. OpEx: How to Account for Your Cloud Spend,” featuring ROK Technologies’ CEO, Alex Coleman and Chris Chiriatti, Managing Director of Accounting and Reporting Services at Deloitte, as the keynote speaker.

The session explored how organizations can effectively leverage both capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx) to support their cloud migration and ongoing service efforts. Chiriatti addressed several crucial topics related to accounting for cloud computing costs, dispelling common myths and discussing challenges and opportunities associated with cloud conversions.

It is important to engage with accounting professionals, like Mr. Chiriatti as well as Cloud and technology experts, like ROK to provide guidance on best practices, ensure compliance with accounting standards and help navigate the complex rules and regulations of the technology-accounting space.

Who We Met on the Expo Floor

The expo floor was buzzing! We engaged in conversations, shared insights, and made tons of new professional connections! We networked with old friends, clients, prospects and colleagues.  The team provided ArcGIS Pro in the Cloud demonstrations and Cloud Preparedness assessments. We also showcased a new client testimonial video at our booth! 

Jay Young, Strategic Account Executive, noted, the most common comments heard at the booth included “we don’t have much IT support” and “our system is outdated” and “we need to modernize.” Each of these comments were quickly followed by, “and we don’t know where to start.” 

“I was able to educate a lot of people I met about who we are at ROK and the benefits of a Managed Cloud. It was also enlightening to hear from so many different organizations where they are with their GIS journey. Overall two thumbs up on this UC experience,” shared Jeremiah Ervin.


We Socialized & Had Fun, Of Course!

We kicked off the UC event by partnering with AWS to host a UC Welcome Happy Hour for 200 of our closest Cloud community – clients, colleagues and friends. Everyone enjoyed relaxing and mingling with fellow professionals, engaging in conversations about their work, sharing experiences, and discussing the latest trends and advancements in GIS technology.


We also played games, asking Expo Hall attendees to see just how much GIS they could get into the Cloud. For a couple lucky participants, we handed out some really awesome prizes!

It was so great to see the excitement of attendees in the Expo Hall. There were more people than I can ever remember seeing at any UC

So until next year, we will be hanging around Charleston, SC bringing new clients to the Cloud and supporting our current ones with upgrades, patches and enhancements. We definitely stay busy, but always look forward to talking to new people, so contact us if you want to talk Esri, the User Conference, or the Cloud! 

And a Little More About Us, if You're Curious

ROK Technologies is a leading provider of GIS Managed Cloud Services, delivering secure, scalable, and reliable geospatial solutions to clients across various industries. ROK enables organizations to leverage the power of GIS without the challenges of managing complex IT infrastructure. We take your GIS to the Cloud. 


Subscribe to
Our Blog

Stay up to date with the latest marketing, sales, service tips, and news

Recent News & Events
2024 AASHTO GIS for Transportation Symposium: Silver Sponsor
Geo Week 2024: Attending
2024 Esri Partner Conference: Gold Sponsor