geoworx was soft-launched to the NZ market in June 2019, with a part-time offering, while undertaking a full-time contract for one of NZ's State-Owned Enterprises. The number and range of clients increased during the year, and from February 2020 geoworx became a full-time entity.
During that month, Scott (founder) has had some significant contact with clients, who have given feedback on the approach that geoworx is taking. This feedback is helping Scott to define what geoworx is and how it differentiates itself from other NZ providers. In the nine years of living in NZ, Scott has had the pleasure of working for and with many of the providers and knows their skills and their strengths. Understanding the potential relationships between them and geoworx is key in ensuring that geoworx offers something different.
The first and key difference is that geoworx is a 'practice', not a business. What does that mean?
"A practice is based on the expertise of the principal. Taking, for example, the case of brain surgery, the practice is based on the expertise of the surgeon. Whilst there are other people in the practice supporting her, the surgeon is the one who does all the delivery."
The Thought Leaders Practice, Church, Cook and Stein, 2012
Scott is the principal, he has a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Geographic Information Science. He has practised GIS in various fields since 2002. Starting in mapping and analytics, through data maintenance, to development, DBA, integration, consultancy, and architecture. There's a lot of experience there, and a lot of understanding of how GIS fits together like a jigsaw. Scott has been described as a 'techie' and not a businessman. While that may have a small amount of truth in it, Scott held a number of none-GIS roles that focussed on customer service, administration and project management. He's a bit of an all-rounder. The wider skills, beyond GIS, give Scott a passion for good customer service, and old-fashioned values. It is also important to note that Scott has worked on both sides of the fence. His GIS career started in Local and Central Government in the UK, before moving into consultancy on the vendor side. He's also worked for (Stats NZ) and as a consultant to Central and Local Government in NZ. He understands both sides of the equation.
One of the things that Scott has been praised for is communication. As a pre-sales consultant, he would regularly find himself leading meetings with a diverse audience from general managers to developers. He would ensure each was engaged and getting what they needed from the meeting. Breaking things down to plain English, or going deep and technical when needed. Scott is told that is a rare skill and is his greatest asset.
As a practice and not a business, you are assured a consultancy led engagement. You deal with Scott. There are no investors or shareholders driving a business agenda. Like a surgeon, geoworx is there to make sure you get the best outcome. Huge profits are not the focus, neither is global domination. Building and sustaining relationships is the core aim of this practice along with delivering excellence. When you deal with geoworx, it is generally because you need help from someone who understands your pain-points, and you have not been able to find that service elsewhere. A consultancy led practice starts to understand your problems as soon as you start discussing them, and can work with you to find the best solution. There are no Chinese-whispers where the problem gets miscommunicated up or down the chain. It's a direct discussion, where your best interests are all that matter. geoworx has does not sell software, or licenses, there is no incentive to get you to buy more. In this way, you are assured that if geoworx makes a recommendation then it is in the best interests of your organisation.
Some of the feedback received during February includes:
"That was a very valuable workshop. You were clear and bridged the communication gap between GIS and IT, which we were struggling with on our own. Now we all have a better understanding of [ArcGIS] Enterprise and the IT requirements that we need."
"When we booked you for the handover workshop we didn't know what to expect. As a team, we learnt so much and you have really helped us understand best-practice in an ArcGIS Enterprise environment ... It is exciting to be at this point in our journey."
"What we like about working with you is that you are transparent. If you don't know something then you just tell us straight. You offer to find out or introduce us to another specialist. It's refreshing to not be over-sold to."
With those comments in mind, it is important to know what geoworx considers its core offerings. ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online, as a GIS platform, is the speciality. The 'platform' is the technical-core of a strong 'holistic' GIS, this is the focus of what geoworx offers. There are many services offered around the edge of that including developing, data/content, ETL, analytics. These services are not key to what geoworx delivers, geoworx will advise on the best companies to speak to regarding those services.
The platform includes all of the server-side technologies that Esri develop. It also includes the underlying infrastructure, whether that be on-premise, IaaS or Cloud. It also includes security elements, including databases, permissions, firewalls, forward and reverse proxies.
The aim of geoworx is to make sure that your ArcGIS Enterprise is as robust, resilient, secure and performant as possible, and to guide you into best practice usage. A part of that is maximising the use of ArcGIS Online, to give a true hybrid environment that takes the best of both offerings. When you have a strong platform, then the other services around the edge of the platform will work optimally. The vendors that provide those services can then shine in their specialisms and gain better results because the foundation is right. geoworx has to recognise its own scale and capabilities, and just like a brain surgeon will bring in nurses or admins to support that practice, geoworx will work alongside other companies or individuals to provide those services.
Of course, there are times when those external services or software components may have a performance or other impact. Maybe, for example, a desktop or developed component is not performing optimally and you want advice around how to improve the outcome, this is a place where geoworx can assist. When the overlap of the platform and the service/technology is an issue, then geoworx can help in that situation:
An example of this may be where a geospatial admin has authored a web service and it does not perform well. geoworx can provide assistance on how to optimise the desktop workflows to improve the ArcGIS Enterprise resources.
With this in mind, it is important to note that geoworx is not just technology focussed, it is people focussed. Imagine you've used desktop products for years, or traditional ArcGIS Server with developed or third-party applications. If you start using ArcGIS Enterprise then it is highly likely that you will persist in using traditional behaviours and workflows in your new environment. This is sub-optimal. When geoworx delivers a new environment it does not behave like a car salesman that proudly gives you the keys and says 'have fun'. geoworx believes in taking the first drive with you! During February it did just this with a major client.
For three days, geoworx was embedded within the customers' team. We took a morning to work through the size/scale and reasoning for the new architecture and the key differences between that and the old system. In the afternoon, the team connected to the new environment, published services and built web maps. geoworx provided a 'floor walking' service to ensure everyone was supported. The team then built services and apps. This was their first taste of User Acceptance Testing, with the vendor right there to remediate any issues. On the second day, geoworx ran 'doctors surgeries' where team members could ask individual questions. We tried and showcased different applications and workflows. Where necessary we pulled the whole team together and got around a whiteboard to communicate, visually, the right and wrong way to do things. On the third day, the team threw their questions at geoworx trying to go deeper and deeper into the technology and push the boundaries of their new knowledge. That relationship continues to grow with remote assistance to the team, using Microsoft Teams as a way of collaborating.
It is this thought and technical leadership that geoworx is here for. It is this that separates geoworx out and is the point of differentiation in the market.
Delivering the 'platform' or the technical-core of a strong 'holistic' GIS is not quite enough for geoworx. A holistic GIS is also made up of data, processes, and people. Delivering capability and skills to the people element is also a key aim of geoworx. The thought leadership provided in the customer engagement, described above, also goes a long way towards developing processes as well.
geoworx wants to share its expertise, and hold good, old fashioned relationships with people and organisations who want that service. What can you expect? Scott, as the principal of geoworx, has been described as hard-working, ethical, passionate, knowledgable, expert, transparent, authentic, a good communicator and reliable. Scott doesn't feel comfortable with all of those words, he's also quite humble. geoworx is also working with other individuals who hold similar values and can be trusted to treat clients well.
If those are the qualities that you want to work with then geoworx would like to hear from you.
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