Now that is what I call a long stretch. I know two companies in the geospatial arena that have provided software innovation in general over such a long period: Intergraph, now part of the Hexagon constellation and Esri. They were present decades before the most influencial software companies were created or their people even born.
And guess what, all the hot buzz words of this moment touch what those two leaders do every day. This week we witnessed Esri’s vision here in, not that warm, Palm Springs (USA). In the end it is actually not about IoT, not about AI, not about AugmentedReality, not about Machine Learning and not about BI nor BIM. No, it is how all those technologies naturally come together in a geospatial context. As if all software that is hot today is meant to become geospatially enabled. The big traditional enterprise players have understood this too. Companies such as Microsoft and SAP are all around here and they know why.
We sometimes wonder why geospatial is so crucial and the answer is simple: because all the data used in thousands of applications have a geospatial component. That is the common key, that is what converts many intelligence into real information. Still, companies such as Esri and Hexagon stay unknown to the general public as if that is what they want. Under the radar, just because they like technology more than marketing and buzz. Just because it is controlled by engineers, by geographers, by great people that focus on solving complex matters of the world around us.
Looking beyond the hype
If you have been around for 50 years in the software arena you have proved many things and not the least that you managed to create hypes, pick up hypes or decline them quickly enough not to defocus too much from your key competences. As an example, IoT is not new in our market. Been there, done that. It is just how the wider world is picking this up that it is transformed today as something special. Same for AI. Some advanced geoprocessing tools that exist for 20+ years are rebranded to GeoAI. Simple, effective.
Preparing for the next 15 years
At Merkator we are in a privileged position. We have been following the major geospatial market leaders for many years now and some of us have their roots with those leaders. As a small European player entering into the playing field of US dominated software companies we see not only the same trends around us but also that these same innovation trends are also delayed by that same track of 50 years at the customers themselves. Over the decades a lot of data and workflows have been locked, yes sometimes frozen in time. It demands a lot of vision to anticipate and rework part of the architecture to better welcome those same hypes. At present Merkator is involved in several fundamental tracks of re-engineering the geospatial enterprise workflows for mainly Utility and Communication companies in order to be ready for the next, let’s say, 15 years. Using the other big number, 50, would be to speculative and impossible for the author of this blog to verify.
Geert De Coensel
Director and Founder of Merkator NV/SA (Belgium)
Geert De Coensel manages all the Belgian sales & operations of Merkator NV/SA and is Partner of Merkator BV in The Netherlands. Geert co-founded Merkator NV/SA in 2011 after working for 22 years for US based Intergraph Corporation. In that period he was assigned in several technical and sales roles and this both in Belgium and The Netherlands. During his career he was among the initial instructors of Microstation CAD (2D & 3D), today owned by Bentley Systems. During his many successful sales years at Intergraph Corporation he contributed to the company growth in Utilities & Communications sector and was the Intergraph program manager for the Belgian A.S.T.R.I.D. initiative which provides the Belgian control rooms for Police and other Emergency Services (101-112). At Merkator Geert has defined the focus areas such as Utilities & Communications sector and developed the growing portfolio of Belgian Grid companies that rely on Merkator’s expertise every day. Geert has a Master in Electrical Engineering, speciality Consumer Electronics (Ghent – Belgium, 1987) and was member of the EENA (European Emergency Number Association) Advisory Board.