BACKGROUND: Crown American Realty Trust is a real estate investment trust that has been in the shipping center business for nearly 50 years. Crown has been a publicly traded company for only five years.
PLATFORMS: Windows NT.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In 1996, Crown American purchased a different mapping software; but in May, 1998, we switched to ESRI's ArcView Business Analyst. The main reason we purchased mapping software was to show various maps with our shopping center locations on it in color. The demographic package was able to show at a glance what the demographics were for a particular area.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ArcView Business Analyst has become a very important piece here at Crown. Maps have become an everyday part of the business operations. From the real estate department using maps showing competition, highways, population, household income and location to acquisitions using the GIS for selecting new sites, Crown has become accustomed to mapping. Future developments at Crown American include integrating CAD with our maps, Geo media with our Web page and possibly 3-D mapping.
STRENGTHS: The main strength for this particular product was the bundling of Claritas demographics with the ArcView. This was a major selling point for us. By having many variables included with the demographic package, Business Analyst allows us to produce many maps at a reasonable cost It is also much easier to export to another type of document such as PowerPoint for presentation purposes.
Other strengths are the fact that ESRI is constantly improving the software and adding additional features. They have many meetings of user groups and conferences that introduce users to each other, and it is amazing to see how many different businesses and companies use mapping.
WEAKNESSES: I wanted to click on a point on a map and get latitude and longitude coordinates in a table in decimal degrees up to six decimal places, not just two places that appear in the menu bar as you move the cursor. So, I called tech support to see how to make that happen. I was told it was possible via an Avenue script; however, being a new user, I knew nothing about scripts. Also, I would like to see improved functionality for editing and redesigning reports.
SELECTION CRITERIA: As I mentioned earlier, the Business Analyst includes UDS demographics as well as Dun & Bradstreet information which has been a tremendous help. It is easy to abstract the competition using a SIC code from Dun & Bradstreet and display it on a map. The cost is very reasonable for all the data you receive with the initial purchase.
DELIVERABLES: Mostly we produce maps that are 8 1/2 x 11 but have occasionally produced large plots for presentation purposes. We also use maps in PowerPoint presentations.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The sales support was very helpful. Our salesman held the presentation and answered all of our questions. He still continues to call to discuss additional needs and stays in contact with me. Too many times there are salesmen who sell to you and never call back, but this is not the case with ESRI.
DOCUMENTATION: I feel the documentation is easy to understand; but as with anything new, you need to have the time to read through the tutorials. Sometimes when reading the manuals you don't always see the shortcuts, and by watching a user use the product you can learn more. I feel you could run this product right out of the box, but the more you get into mapping the more you want to do. It may be a challenge to find advanced instructions in the tutorial.
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