Directions Magazine Editors Look Back at 2011; Make Bold Predictions for 2012

December 13, 2011

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This article summarizes the predications that Editor in Chief Joe Francica and Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg made during last year’s podcast and issues a report card on whether their predictions came true. The article also lists the predications for 2012 and serves to accompany the podcast in which the two editors discuss prognostications.

Adena’s Predictions from Dec 2010

Prediction #1: Another key mapping player will join MapQuest and Microsoft in using/supporting OSM.

Verdict: CORRECT!

Esri offers both editing tools for OSM via ArcGIS desktop and access to the data via ArcGIS Online. The latter really took until 2011 to be finalized since there were still issues regarding who could use Esri map services for free and proper accreditation of the OSM datasets.

Prediction #2: LBS will merge and hide with social networking.

Verdict: CORRECT!

Facebook’s Places crashed and was quickly integrated into its bread and butter, the status update. Google’s brand new Schemer prides itself as a recommendation and check off service (checking off schemes completed). Location is in there, but it’s a side note. Gowalla was acquired by Facebook and is being dismantled after it pivoted to a city guide offering. The “geo” focus was not enough.

Prediction #3: Esri ArcGIS Associates Certification will take off like wildfire, making the upper level test, Professional, the real distinguisher.

Verdict: Hard to say

Esri is not making pass/fail percentages public, but as of October about 1,000 people held an Esri certification. Still, the availability of a course to prep for the Associate’s Exam from Esri and the recent offer of sample questions suggests there is significant demand. Buzz on Twitter on the topic (and people announcing they’ve passed) also suggests strong interest. As for the higher level exam becoming the “real” credential? That does not seem to have happened, at least not yet.

Adena's Predictions for 2012

Prediction #1: HTML 5 will be the preferred environment for the majority of Web mapping clients on all devices. Flash, Silverlight and even JavaScript are showing their age and limitations more and more all the time.

Prediction #2: OpenGeo will do the hard work of building credibility (and support) for enterprise use of open source. It will do for open source GIS what Esri did for GIS. The company has and will continue to take the baton from OSGeo to get the software into wider spread use. (And it will make money doing so.)

Prediction #3: The biggest impact ArcGIS Online will have will be in education. Governments (local, regional, state and federal) will be leery to use it in any significant way in 2012. Educators can and will teach introductory courses using 100% Web resources by the end of 2012.

Joe’s Predictions from December 2010

Prediction #1: In GIS - Hexagon acquisition will have a ripple effect within the industry and the battleground is licensing and pricing. I said you can be good, fast and cheap. Both Hexagon and Esri have good products; fast is irrelevant and price is going to be a battleground. This ripple effect could lead to acquisitions. Small good technology companies will be acquired – Safe Software to be acquired which could be acquired by Autodesk, Oracle or Esri

Verdict: MISSED!

  1. The integration of Hexagon and Intergraph technology has taken longer than expected. We have seen the continued march forward of the Esri juggernaut with one market research company reporting that Esri now has 40% of the geospatial technology software market. ( The pricing wars have not materialized and if they have there has been little anecdotal evidence to suggest that product pricing has been a weapon employed by either company.
  2. Safe Software was not acquired and actually continues to expand into new markets with strong presence in place like South America.
  3. ITT spins out ITT VIS and becomes Exelis VIS but hard to determine if this was a result of any ripple effect from the Hexagon acquisition

Prediction #2: In Enterprise Location Intelligence - Pitney Bowes Business Insight will be spun out to private equity market and we’ll see acquisitions and mergers from smaller companies

Verdict: MISSED

PBBI was not spun out; however, mid-level managers continued to leave and new hires have occurred. PBBI’s move to the cloud with their Data as a Service solution called Geosk has finally been launched after announcing it over a year ago. It’s too soon to know whether this will be a hit with clients but it is a move that will now compete for mindshare with other cloud-based data platforms like those of Esri, GeoEye and emapsite.

Prediction #3: In Location Intelligence- Niche LI companies might disappear. Some companies on the acquisition list, i.e. Alteryx by SAS.

Result: CORRECT!

Off by only one letter for Alteryx. Alteryx was not acquired but received an equity investment by SAP. SpotOn Systems acquired by Esri to get more into the BI market. Companies like APOS, Spatial Key, Yellowfin and Tableau continue to tout their use of location technology as an integration feature of their BI platforms.

Prediction #4: In LBS– Facebook will come out with Places 2.0 because 1.0 was a dud. There is not much hope for foursquare or Gowalla on their own. Facebook will figure this out, which has been great at selling advertising. Amazon has my buying history. While not maintaining any physical stores they know more about my merchandise preferences. Amazon will buy foursquare. Amazon has physical location of their client. Adena suggests that Amazon becomes an information platform for retailers.

Result: CORRECT!

Facebook buys Gowalla; Amazon aggressively targeting brick and mortar retailers with new app.

Joe’s Predictions for 2012

Prediction #1: Enterprise Geospatial

  1. Cloud: I think geospatial companies will and should set up their own solution-based cloud services with more than just software. They need to either partner with, or offer themselves, some or all parts of the cloud from infrastructure to platform to solutions to data. Survive or die. Google has Google Earth Builder; Esri has and the others better get on the band wagon or die. I think we might see that some remote sensing software and data companies will merge. I see GeoEye buying a company like PCI Geomatics or DigitalGlobe buying or merging with Exelis VIS. PCI for example licenses software to Rolta, which could also be a bidder on PCI. So, for example you have Intergraph/ERDAS; you could have Rolta/PCI and while that’s not necessarily a cloud play, it might make sense in strategically offering an integrated solution with some of Rolta’s GIS products like OneGIS.
  2. Big data analytics – Location Intelligence will move in this direction and lead big data analytics. PBBI needs to grab this concept and run headlong into big data. They’re doing it; they are just not promoting it and it’s because the concept of big data has not been well articulate for the geospatial community. I go back to discussions with Jeff Jonas – understanding information as soon as you get it or as Jonas say, “Organizations making sense of what they learn…as fast as they learn it.” This is big data LI.
  3. Social Business & Mobile Computing – There is a movement toward location-based business (LBB): taking all the aspects of Internet socialization and combining this with the mobile ecosphere. is doing it and you see just about every enterprise software company coming out with some form of mobile business application. The element of location-based business will be huge.

Prediction #2: Location-based services

Apple jumps headlong into location-based services and we will see the Amazoning of America. I predict that retailers are going to drive this effort or else be crushed by Amazon. Amazon and Apple will rule the cloud and LBS-based advertising.

Prediction #3: Open source

Open source gets its act together. OSGeo has had a turnover in leadership. The organization needs to transition itself from movement of programmers to a cohesive group of businesses that can leverage the movement. Open source companies step out of the shadows and become a marketing force. Either OSGeo takes the lead in supporting the group or individual companies will seek other professional support.


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