Observations on Major IT & Geospatial Players from ESRI UC
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), that the ESRI UC gathers just about everyone in the GIS ecosystem but certain observations can be gleaned from talking to some of the major players. I offer these comments:
Tele Atlas vs. NAVTEQ
Well, when there are only two horses in the race, both thoroughbreds and now with new trainers you have to look for the subtle differences to figure out who might cross the line first. Tele Atlas was touting the addition of speed profiles and the feedback they are getting from TomTom users to augment their road networks. Speed profiles are developed from analyzing historical traffic data and combining that with real-time traffic information to “high definition” traffic information a fairly clear signal that Tele Atlas is focused on more of the navigation market. NAVTEQ on the other hand seems to be tipping their hand toward the enterprise opportunities as they stoked their booth with presentation from key clients including FedEx and the City of Alpharetta, Georgia as well as partners such as Northrop Grumman and Business Objects. Granted, these views are somewhat myopic in that the context was the ESRI UC and not CTIA or the American Truckers Association but from this vantage point it may be some indication as to where these studs will jockey for position.
MISO: Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle
Does size matter? I’m not sure you could tell much from the booth presence of each of these companies: Big for IBM and Microsoft, not so big for Oracle, SAP was represented by Business Objects in a fairly small booth. Predictably, Microsoft was touting Virtual Earth (VE) content that will be available with ArcGIS Online and perhaps downplaying VE/SQL Server as SQL Server 2008 with spatial hit manufacturing just yesterday IBM’s support for spatial in z/OS 9 was given brief mention in Mr. Dangermond’s keynote address. In a long conversation with SAP, I found out that the company is doing extensive market research among their user community on the demand for business applications of GIS. The results were shocking about how few companies understand the benefits of location intelligence. And Oracle was demonstrating the direct import of Shapefiles through MapViewer and announced their support for GDAL (in beta). In any other setting, the MISO group would be the four gorillas in the room. At the ESRI UC, they were the sheep following the ESRI shepherd. Take the point that ESRI pulls through tremendous (read multimillion dollars) business for MISO. They court ESRI and each has a unique relationships with them as we explained in a podcast recently.
Google was there but not highly visible, and many representative of the company who were in the booth were Sketchup guys. Google and ESRI made their big announcement at Where 2.0 when they announced that the metadata service from ArcGIS Server 9.3 would be scrabble into KML.