Esri Partners | Winter 2020
Esri partner True North Geographic Technologies knows the value of staying ahead of the curve. For 12 years, the Tennessee-based company has provided its customers with GIS implementation services to help them embrace location technology and apply it to their daily workflows. Now, with 20 employees and a customer base of sizable utilities that stretches from Texas to Massachusetts, True North is continuing to raise the bar.
In June 2019, True North CEO David Speight announced that the company’s entire technical staff would earn Esri Technical Certifications. In just a few months, he expects these employees, which account for about three-quarters of True North’s staff, to accomplish that.
“We want to show that, at a company level, we’re on the same page as Esri,” said Speight.
REALLY UNDERSTANDING ESRI TECHNOLOGY
True North’s core mission is to help its customers solve problems. With a thorough understanding of Esri products, the company offers valuable insight into how ArcGIS technology should be architected, deployed, and used.
“We’re primarily a services provider, so the value of our time to our customers is based both on our domain expertise in various industries and our technical expertise in the platforms we support,” said Speight.
It was in pursuit of this mission that True North decided to become a Release Ready specialty partner in 2018. The Release Ready designation is awarded to partners that adopt the latest Esri technology, migrate their offerings in a repeatable practice, and have a well-trained staff to support the latest Esri software releases.
“Customers want to work with an Esri partner that they know is in step with their primary technology provider,” said Mitch Maddox, director of business development at True North.
One way to demonstrate being at the forefront with Esri is to get certified in ArcGIS technology.
“It’s a good indicator that an individual has a solid understanding of the technology they work with,” said Speight. “I think a lot of times, you can know things at a surface level, but being able to pass a certification exam conveys that you really understand the software well enough to answer questions about scenarios that you don’t typically encounter.”
Esri offers Desktop, Enterprise, and Specialty certifications, as well as exams for developers and administrators. Speight said he encourages employees to get whichever certification they want to pursue.
“I typically make recommendations, but usually they have something in mind that they want to achieve first,” he said. “We have a good mix of Desktop and Enterprise certifications at multiple levels. We’re already looking at some of the new certifications coming out as well, and we’ll be going after those.”
A WAY TO INSPIRE CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES
As an early adopter of Esri technology, True North is well versed in what it takes to inspire trust and confidence in the market. For starters, customers need to recognize that the company is an industry expert with proven solutions and services. Being a Release Ready specialty partner does this, but the commitment True North made to having a fully Esri-certified workforce sets it apart even further.
“When a Release Ready specialty partner’s staff is certified, customers have the confidence that the partner has an in-depth understanding of Esri technology,” explained Maddox. “Our staff have the expertise to implement systems that will help customers overcome their business challenges.”
And while spurring customer confidence is certainly important, True North also seeks to inspire its own workforce. Part of True North’s annual organizational plan includes training and certification opportunities for employees. The company encourages technical staff to make learning—with a focus on technical certification—a priority through financial incentives and recognition. And while this benefits the individuals on both a personal and professional level, it also pays dividends to True North and its customers.
“It has been our experience when working with traditional IT partners, that a high level of emphasis is placed on acquiring and maintaining vendor-specific certifications,” said Speight. “Particularly in the private sector, certifications are often required on specific products and, in some cases, specific versions of that product. We see that requirement extending to GIS as well within organizations when GIS moves out of the departmental level and is adopted as an enterprise platform.”
DISPLAYING A DEDICATION TO ACHEIVEMENT
Having a fully certified workforce demonstrates True North’s commitment to adopting and maintaining current technologies to support not only its GIS business but also the GIS operations of its customers.
“It’s a pretty strong indicator that we know what we’re talking about,” said Speight. “It’s not just a résumé builder; it’s a proven measurement of our knowledge base.”
Through its involvement in Esri’s Release Ready partner initiative, True North already has access to current technology and release resources. It can also connect its customers to industry-leading advice from Esri experts and share best practices with a broad audience. Partners aligned with the Release Ready specialty and the Esri Technical Certification program showcase their organizational achievements and dedication to helping customers attain their goals.
In addition, certification translates to the real world in verifiable ways. According to the 2018 Value of IT Certification survey conducted by Esri testing partner Pearson VUE, 33 percent of people who were self-motivated to get certified said that improving their professional standing and increasing their technical knowledge were the primary reasons they elected to become certified. And about three-quarters of all respondents said “they ‘completely’ or ‘mostly’ accomplished their objectives by becoming certified.”
Speight believes that his staff is aligned in these views.
“Anytime you pass a test, it’s a good feeling. It’s a confirmation that you know what you’re doing,” he said. “I think that snowballs, and you end up wanting to push yourself to do the next one. There’s hopefully some cumulative effect where that continues.”
BECOME RELEASE READY AND CERTIFIED
True North’s success as an Esri partner comes not only from staying on the cutting edge of Esri technology but also from prioritizing training and certification as part of its long-term organizational goals.
For any organization looking to showcase its expertise, enhance customer confidence, and connect with Esri’s best and brightest, becoming a Release Ready specialty partner and getting a fully certified workforce are effective means to those ends. Find out what it takes to be Release Ready, and get more information about Esri Technical Certification exams.