INTERGEO always throws up something new. The key things to take away from the show this year revolve around how tough the industry is and new technology. This is the first of two blog posts sharing my thoughts from the show this year. In this post I will be sharing observations regarding how tough the industry is in Europe and the rise of Africa.
INTERGEO never disappoints and the 2016 edition was as rewarding, challenging, informative and exhausting as its predecessors. Whilst INTERGEO has its place as a conference and exhibition, for many, including Getmapping, its biggest role comes as a physical and mental meeting point for the geospatial industry, allowing everyone to come together and both reflect on the year just gone and look to the future.
Look out for my second post regarding new technology - in particular; UAVS and the Xcam.
The Aerial Survey Industry is Tough
Every year I have the pleasure of catching up with colleagues/rivals from across Europe and Africa, and each year we compare notes on the season just gone. Some have had a decent year due to good weather and minimal issues with their equipment, and others have had a tough time due to lack of weather, increasing ATC restrictions and bad luck with some of their kit.
But the common theme is that it is a tough industry, and everyone is looking to make their business more predictable and consistent against strong head winds – prices are only going one way (down) whilst costs continue to rise. It is no coincidence that the big stands at INTERGEO belong to the providers of equipment not services on the whole!
This toxic mix of descending prices and increasing operating restrictions cannot go on and it is no wonder that many survey companies are struggling and that there have been some high profile casualties in recent years.
As one colleague commented, there is enough work around in Europe for everyone to do well, but we are constantly guilty of over-competing with each other on price. In the end if this trend isn’t checked, it will impact on the quality of deliverables and the end customers, who may be rejoicing in lower prices today, may ultimately start to pay the price through the quality of the service they receive tomorrow.
As one such aerial survey company, we have to accept that the price of maintaining our standards will be to lose one or two jobs on price along the way. Similarly, major clients need to play their part by making sure that the weighting on their evaluation of bids and quotes truly reflects the value of the output to them, and this extends much deeper than the just the cost of the service into the cost to the end users from not having the right tools to do their jobs.
The Rise of Africa
Over the last few years, major companies have been showing more and more interest in the emerging markets in Africa. Getmapping, through its African Survey subsidiary Geosense, has been operating in Africa for sixteen years and in that time we have seen the market for geospatial services in Africa grow rapidly.
There was noticeably more interest and enquiries about Africa this year, and this is a trend that has been increasing in the last few years. As a result, it was good to have all of the senior Executive Team from Geosense at the show and on the stand this year to experience INTERGEO and promote the great work we are doing in Africa.
Geosense operates across most of sub-Saharan Africa from our main base in South Africa, and amongst other things this year we were celebrating the imminent opening of our new office in Namibia as we continue to grow.
The value of having a permanent point of presence in country can’t be overstated, and through our own offices and those of key partners, we now have direct representation across the whole of Southern Africa
Over the next few years I expect Africa to continue to grow rapidly and the demand for survey services to grow in parallel. Providing the right base maps for Africa is a critical function in the development of the region and we will continue to push to make sure that is what our customers get.