A business model simply put, is “where is the value in what we do”? Another way of looking at it is “What do our customers need and are willing to pay for”? In attempting to define the business model for the Geomatics community, we must ask ourselves “Where is the value in what we do” and “Where can we identify new untapped value” into the future?
We know intuitively that value is derived by providing current authoritative base data, as many downstream companies consume this and create value added products. But more importantly, where can the community add value for both domestic and international markets? What can we focus on to ensure academia and business continue to innovate, have the ability to export information, products and intellectual property. What elements does the community require to be sustainable and how do we incubate these to grow the sector?
In addition to understanding the missing elements, we must also have a dialogue to define the roles and responsibilities of the private and public sectors in a future business model. Understanding who is responsible for what is a discussion that in the past has been difficult to tie down due to shifting priorities. This challenge will not cease to exist however we must persist with an aim of ensuring all stakeholders understand their role, and the role of others in the community.
Could the business model be one where governments are responsible to provide accurate authoritative data which is standardized nationally and openly available to all with unrestricted use. Academia is responsible to ensure we have a constant influx of new practitioners with not only geomatic skills but also with a strong innovative spirit. Business is responsible for finding ways to thrive in a competitive environment, drawing on strengths gained from a skilled and equipped workforce and becoming the geomatics center of knowledge marketable globally.
It is clear that in defining the business model, we must dissect the problem into many discussions and outputs. In discussions with other Provincial, Territorial and Federal government stakeholders it becomes obvious we are lacking the perspective of value from those that consume geo data in the private sector. What foundational data is lacking, if it were available what value add opportunities could the private sector and academia derive and what impact would that have on the Canadian economy?
If we look at imagery as an example, is there a need for a national coverage, what resolution are required in what areas and what derived products would be beneficial to stimulate innovation in the geomatic community? Or, do we continue to acquire imagery as we do today, creating a patchwork across the country with variable standards, products and quality?
If we were to look at LiDAR, what tremendous new utility could this product create and what downstream opportunities? One only has to look at the number of businesses producing value by deriving information from LiDAR for applications such as depth to water, forest inventory and power line clearing. In its infancy, data was very expensive, academia and research developed real world uses which increased consumption and that plus competition has reduced the price to a point where acquisition is more affordable. One has to wonder what business opportunities exist in housing and distributing these massive data sets for wider consumption and possibly on a subscription basis. The possibilities are endless.
Answers to these questions would then spawn a dialogue on who should have what roles and responsibilities in achieving the desired outcome. What do you need from which other stakeholders to innovate and generate value for your own business? How can we all help each other? These are the discussions we have to have.
The “Team Canada” approach to defining where we want to take the sector bodes well for the future. The CGCRT is intended to spur dialogue to assist us in understanding all perspectives and therefor make decisions which will benefit the industry as a whole. Your input is very important and I would urge you to give consideration to the above questions on Imagery, LiDAR, roles & responsibilities and your thoughts on elements of the Business Model and send your responses to http://cgcrt.ca/engagement/
You can also view and comment on a Buisness Model discussion document athttp://cgcrt.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Business-Model-V-2.0.pdf
Andrew MacNeil is a member of the Steering Committee of the Canadian Geomatics Round Table and Director of New Brunswick Land information Infrastructure.