How A Database Will ‘Greatly Expand The SIM Market’

By Joe Francica

On Monday, we released some of IDC's interpretation of the new spatial features within Oracle 10g. I want to pick up on two specific details of that review:
  1. "Oracle's move ...will be to greatly expand the total addressable SIM market."
  2. "SIM vendors will have to adopt new business models to take advantage of the market space that Oracle can open."
Number 1: The total addressable Spatial Information Market (SIM) market is any company, any organization, or any government that stores information with a spatial component.Name one that doesn't.If you've got customers, you've got names and addresses; if you serve the public, you have streets to pave and garbage to collect; if you have a region to promote for business, you have land to develop, etc.

With few exceptions, companies in the traditional GIS market began selling software and services to public entities that understood that much of their infrastructure was spatially referenced.In the late 80's private industry took more notice of the technology and began to actively investigate how to use it for a competitive advantage.Software solutions originally designed for use by government applications were awkwardly adapted for private industry. And today, the technology remains limited to the fringes of mainstream business intelligence solutions: customer relationship or supply chain management systems; lease administration or human resource systems for example, don't take advantage of much spatial analysis...yet.

All that is about to change.With each cycle of improvement of spatial functionality in the database, the ability to recognize geographic relationships becomes easier to implement.Why? Because it's there.Spatial intelligence within the database is now part of the package and smart DBAs will take advantage of implementing solutions that make good business sense - without going out to a GIS vendor for additional software.I refer readers to an argument I made in a recent editorial when Oracle tendered the offer for PeopleSoft - it is likely and plausible that functionality developed by Oracle could supplant the need for major pieces of today's client-side GIS.

Number 2: The GIS market as it is today will radically change and some vendors will not be able to make it as a result of business intelligence vendors (IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, BEA, GE and others) stepping in to offer solutions to a growing clientele for "spatial intelligence." And it doesn't happen without the express consent of the leader's of these companies recognizing the advantage of spatial data: Gates, Ellison and company.This is a wake up call and those who heed it get to play the game.The market that is opening can offer much opportunity and Oracle is certainly positioned to leverage their existing application suite of CRM, Advanced Scheduling, and Finance in addition to vertical applications in retail, health care, and transportation.Will the SIM vendors step up to play in the same ballpark or be relegated to the back bench?

What will the new business model look like? I have had several conversations with those who own GIS software, consulting, and data companies as well as those in market research that study our market. There is one consistent theme and its not exactly new: Solutions ...and maybe with the addition of a few key syllables like Location-based Business Intelligence Solution. The term "GIS" is gone; "spatial" is nice but too "techy"; but more people can relate to "location" and understand it.With functionality resident within database software, there are more options to actually solve a business problem because the tools are within reach of more corporate IT managers. The need to seek additional spatial components (read: GIS) becomes less of a challenge.

Published Saturday, September 13th, 2003

Written by Joe Francica

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