Geo Week News

May 13, 2013

Are we all headed for a career as data lifeguards?

Part of my job is to keep one eye on the horizon of the 3D market, while maintaining that all-important cash flow. When I look that far ahead, I see hardware continuing to outpace software and a lot of clients drowning in data.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m a “more is better” guy when it comes to data, but I slowly crawled to this position as measurement technologies increased their data collection rate.

Imagine jumping into the world of point clouds for the first time on the receiving end of a mobile unit collecting hundreds of gigabytes per day. It’s no wonder clients are willing to pay more for a slice of the data you collected than the whole point cloud.

While many of us see multiple categories of assets that are collected and wasted, from their point of view, things are a bit different.

Essentially, clients are buying a gold mine with two billing choices:
1) We hand them the deed, the mineral rights, and say, ‘Start digging.’
2) We say, ‘Here’s your gold.’

Unless you client is a “mining company” the choice seems pretty obvious.

The question then becomes, is now the time to make the switch from “evangelists” to “lifeguards”? After years of preaching the value of raw data to anyone who will listen, should I drop that for a business plan centered on saving my clients from drowning in the very data I love swimming around in?

I think we might be there. It’s not as if data has become less valuable. It’s just that companies with zero experience in data mining can now own more data from a weekend-long scanning campaign than from what they used to create in a whole year.

That means the 3D service provider that can provide a company with just the portion of data they need to do their job that most seamlessly integrates into their current workflow will be the one that gets the client.

Perhaps my years of swimming in deep datasets was only preparing me to save others from drowning in it. You do what you are good at, and we’ll do what we’re good at. Is that not the point of an active marketplace?

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