Industry Responses to SIM Series

By David Sonnen

Parts One and Two of the SIM Series.

Responses from:

First, I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to the people who reviewed and commented on our first two "State of the SIM Industry" articles.Having your work assessed by some of the top people in the industry is a heady experience.Generally, our basic market model fared pretty well under expert scrutiny, but the experts raised several important issues that I'd like to discuss.

Dr Astroth points out that "the greatest value of geospatial information lies in its ability to enhance and inform other parts of the organization's workflow".This is the key dynamic driving the evolution of traditional GIS to the broad use of spatial technology in support of business processes.

Dr.Astroth also states that, "those organizations that are getting the greatest value out of their SIM systems are those which are also engaged in business (or workflow) process re-engineering".This important fact is often overlooked in our enthusiastic discussions of spatial technology. While SIM technology a potentially powerful adjunct to many business processes, it will not be effective in enterprise information systems without careful design.

Dr.Lopez calls our attention to the market potential of mobile location-based services.This is certainly a market that is getting a lot of attention.For example, many analysts are calling the recent AOL - MapQuest merger a play for location-based mobile services.If location-based mobile services achieve even a small portion of their potential, we will have to add them as a separate segment to our SIM market model.

I agree that mobile services hold a large potential for some spatial technology companies, and that eventually wireless location-based services will be a huge market.But I don't see that market reaching critical mass within the next 24 months.For location-based services in the consumer market to really take off, we will have to see millions of people buying and using Internet-enabled wireless devices.Before that happens, a lot of basic technology and pricing has to improve.Right now, if you want wireless Internet services, you pay a lot for a new cell phone, Palm Pilot 7 or similar device.Then you get monochrome AOL or Yahoo! at 14.4 or 28.8 Kbs at a steep monthly rate.Improved bandwidth, better applications and more capable devices are on the horizon, but the horizon is still a ways off.

Dr.Newell states that "the key components of GIS, such as handling spatial data-types, managing multiple coordinate frameworks, handling topology, long transaction management and client-side caching, will belong with the core technology providers such as Oracle"

I agree.That fight is over and the database companies won.GIS companies that try to compete with database companies for spatial data management will be forced into increasingly smaller niches.As Mr.Gunn indicates, spatial technology vendors are going to be more successful in offering vertical applications and data rather than spatial database management.

Mr.Peterson makes the case that the Internet has changed the critical success factors for spatial technology vendors.I certainly agree.The Internet is clearly the dominant information distribution architecture and will be for the foreseeable future.Companies that want to compete in the SIM market have to excel in the Internet environment.

Published Wednesday, January 19th, 2000

Written by David Sonnen

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