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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It should come as no surprise that Intergraph has completely refocused its business objectives for its geospatial technology so as not to go head to head with ESRI. And to look at the company from an entirely U.S. perspective would be wrong, too. In fact, Intergraph has a much stronger position internationally than it does in the U.S. domestic market for GIS software as well as its G/Technology for utilities, this according to a European marketing manager.

But in an attempt to strike at markets where it can succeed most profitably, Intergraph has thrown an exceptional amount of resources at the intelligence business, both military and civilian…hence the reason for putting "security" in the first position of the division’s name: Security, Government and Infrastructure (SG&I). Warren Fletcher, SG&I’s new president, in describing his division’s goals said, "The best way it can be described is that we are developing geospatial solutions to solve socially significant problems." Though talking "solutions" for these markets, Intergraph still sells lots of products but many of them focused on providing building blocks for event, data, or transaction-driven scenarios, such as:

  • I/Sight provides integration and control of video cameras; operator controlled or automated sequencing of multiple cameras; event driven display of camera feeds.
  • I/Consequence captures events and uses business rules to determine the next course of action
  • I/Incident Analysis is integrated with Intergraph’s Computer-aided Disptach (CAD) and Records Management System (RMS) databases
  • ImageScount which improves the effectiveness of military and intelligence agencies by simplifying access to imagery and new tools for imagery exploitation
by Joe Francica on 05/22 at 10:52 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I had several conversations with Intergraph’s product executives to help clarify how the licensing would work for users who wanted to leverage Microsoft or Google API’s with GeoMedia (GeoMedia will use a control to instantiate GE or VE from within a GeoMedia client) since there are restrictions on the usage of data as per the API agreements. Each exec supplied basically the same answer that the Intergraph legal team was working through the issue with regard to the pricing and end-user licensing agreement (EULA). However, though it seems that it may be of minimal cost to users like local governments, who wish to use the API’s to support their community services, it is not clear on how commercial users could utlize the same functionality. Intergraph may end up asking users to deal directly with those supplying the web service.

This is not just an issue for Intergraph users but for others who have varying business models that want to leverage the API’s for commercial or public usage. This has to be clearly defined because many people want to exploit the geospatial data/visualization tools that are offered by Microsoft and Google as an embedded object from within other applications. More data will be added by the big mapping portals and more layers of "legalize" will likely occur and as more data is contributed to the library of "community contributed" geospatial information. It’s a scary thought but there is already an assumption, especially by those seeing the Intergraph demo, that the data is free.

by Joe Francica on 05/22 at 10:25 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Two of Intergraph’s flagship products will soon leverage the API’s of Google and Microsoft to support views in their client-side software. In GeoMedia Professional, a standard map window will drive a slave window with Microsoft Virtual Earth (VE) such that panning the map window will drive the VE window. The reverse may also be true but has not been tested. If “Bird’s Eye View” is selected with the VE window control then the user can navigate from the map window where a point will represent the location of the object in view.

In GeoMedia WebMap (GMWM), a setting allows the user to select the type of browser support. In previous versions of GMWM, user most often select SVG. But in a soon to be released version, one of the choices will be either Google Earth (GE) or Microsoft Virtual Earth (VE). Again, using the API’s, a control is utilized to instantiate a session of either GE or VE such that all of the view controls are exposed to the user from inside GMWM. So the users remains in GMWM where links to GeoMedia data warehouses are maintained. The user sees his own data overlayed on GE or VE.

by Joe Francica on 05/22 at 10:16 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Former astronaut and the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, was the keynote speaker of Intergraph 2007, the company’s user conference. Armstrong recounted one of the reasons for going to the moon, which was to install a mirror in the Sea of Tranquility that would reflect a beam of light from Mt. Hamilton, near San Jose, California to more accurately measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon. "My job was to install the mirror," joked Armstrong in a humorous but humble statement illustrating his part in reaching one of man’s greatest achievements.

The Lick Observatory hosted the instrument that beamed the light to the moon and is still operational today. Armstrong likened the experiment to trying to hit a coin with a rifle from a distance of two miles. He also said that initially the experiment failed until it was determined that the Observatory had incorrectly calculated its own lat/long in order to receive the reflected beam from the Moon.

by Joe Francica on 05/22 at 05:39 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Halsey Wise, CEO of Intergraph, opened the company’s user conference, Intergraph 2007, with a discussion of the convergence of political and economic trends that he believes support the company’s transformation culminating in the company being taken private. Since he arrived four years ago, Wise has refocused Intergraph on only those key markets in which he believed Intergraph could invest and compete as either the number one or two player, and exit those in which they could not compete. In GIS, an acronym not mentioned anywhere in Wise’s opening address, Intergraph continues to transform its product development and marketing message to address challenges in the infrastructure management, security and response arena. By creating the Security, Government and Infrastructure division (SGI), Intergraph wants to capitalize on the non-diminishing trend for greater security and the ability to mitigate the situations associated with natural and terrorist disasters. “Security is a durable trend,” said Wise. Wise feels that SGI will serve customers by fusing location aware technology to security markets.
Wise addressed the reasons for going private and dismissed the notion that its new investors will “cut and run.” Wise felt the move was in the best interest of the stockholders and employees where there would be better access to capital. He implored the audience to “give it a chance” and “listen to the facts” while illustrating that the company’s first quarter results (numbers they are no longer required to disclose) are higher than in 2006. Gross margins were up to 52.8% in 2006, and Q1 2007 results show a backlog of orders of $314 million compared to $264 million in Q1 2006 with revenue up 16%. Wise also noted that the company is entering its “AFTER-NEXT” phase, the final segment of the company’s transformation that will be highlighted by the ability to exercise greater financial freedom to make acquisitions. “Stay tuned,” said Wise.

by Joe Francica on 05/22 at 03:42 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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