On Location Intelligence: New Buzz, Familiar Players
When we at Directions Magazine started
the Location Intelligence Conference six years ago, the original name
was "Location Technology and Business Intelligence." Now it's
recognized solely as Location Intelligence (LI). In 2004, we invited
the top business intelligence (BI) firms to participate and they did
so, albeit reluctantly. Companies such as Siebel, TIBCO, Group 1,
Information Builders, SAS and Business Objects that offered solutions
from customer relationship management to business analytics met for the
first time to constructively discuss synergies. After that event,
however, they ignored the geospatial scene, save for a few mentions of
business partnering arrangements with GIS companies like MapInfo (now
PBBI) or ESRI, and only when there was money on the table.
Fast-forward to today and the situation has changed. Through several
acquisitions of BI companies, Oracle has now gone the distance toward
spatially enabling much of its application stack. Its "fusion"
initiative took software products from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel
and others, and put them on the same Oracle foundation, thus opening
the possibility that any application could use Oracle Spatial.
That initiative is nearly complete. The result is a full quiver of
software solution arrows with which to target IT managers who want to
leverage geospatial technology to deploy a complete LI/BI solution.
At the Oracle Spatial User Group meeting last month in Phoenix, true
LI/BI integration was on display. From smart grid applications to
vineyard management, Oracle tapped users to roll out their projects.
But while it was obvious that location technology was central to each
project's analysis, there was always a sense that Oracle looks beyond
the "cool factor" of maps. Oracle is tackling major data management and
enterprise computing challenges encountered by companies like Comcast
and XCEL Energy. So, while it is important to know what's new in Oracle
Spatial from a product development viewpoint, it is equally significant
to see how Oracle Spatial is being integrated into products like Primavera, a project management solution, and the Oracle Utilities
application suite. In effect, Oracle is "flipping the switch" and
turning spatial into a product feature when such a capability is
needed. It will be daunting to compete against this company.
Microsoft, beware we haven't heard much about geospatial and SQL
Server integration lately you are in danger of becoming a non-player.
And IBM continues to play with ESRI only, and resists striking out on
its own in what could be a missed opportunity. But I digress
Enter Rolta, a rather quiet, nearly $300 million Mumbai-based
consulting company that, also through acquisition, has acquired
substantial expertise in business intelligence that incorporates
geospatial technology. In fact, TUSC, a consulting company Rolta
acquired in 2008, is expert in Oracle database technology and has
received several awards (1,2) for its work. Rolta is linking geospatial to BI through its Geospatial Fusion platform, which it has termed "spatial business intelligence."
While Rolta can't compete with Oracle on software solutions, although it is giving it a go with its OnPoint
product, Rolta could enter the market as the "go to" vendor for
enterprise systems integration services. This sets up an interesting
competitive landscape between Oracle and Rolta. While Rolta/TUSC has
become a great partner of Oracle's, there is now a clear competitive
situation developing, one Rolta must play judiciously.
With Oracle and Rolta, the LI landscape is now finally unearthing some
players that are aggressively attacking the market. However, Pitney
Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) has been in the ballgame for quite some
time, offering a different approach than either Oracle or Rolta.
Historically, MapInfo Professional has been PBBI's flagship solution,
but it has recognized that the future is in software as a service
(SaaS) and that approach offers the best competitive advantage,
according to Mike Hickey, president of PBBI. While Hickey thinks that
even in five years, desktop and server or "on premise" solutions will
still comprise the majority of its revenue, he believes SaaS solutions
will not be far behind. This year, Hickey has given his team the goal
of developing 10 new SaaS solutions within the next 12 months.
play in the systems integration (SI) space as well? While the company
offers many solutions for the mailstream and data quality sectors, it
is not in the SI business. Will Alteryx
(formerly SRC), which also likes to use the same tag line as Rolta
(i.e. spatial business intelligence), try to compete or position itself
to be acquired? Alteryx will struggle for brand recognition having just
changed its name and become associated with the location intelligence
We were in the position to help start this ball rolling, so we'll be watching the next developments unfold with great interest.