VertiGIS partner Sweco was recently joined by VertiGIS CEO Richard Wiegmann to discuss the central role that VertiGIS technology plays in Sweco’s GeoWeb products and other global GIS solutions. With discussion on the future of GIS and the importance of having GIS solutions for businesses, Richard provides his insights into how VertiGIS is helping customers drive global geospatial landscapes.
Click here to view the original interview in Dutch on Sweco’s website.
Can you shortly introduce VertiGIS to our GeoWeb community?
[RW] I’d be glad to! VertiGIS is a global GIS software and solutions provider, and we work alongside thousands of customers from government (federal, state/local, municipal), utilities & energy, telecommunications, manufacturing, infrastructure & facilities management, chemical, and transportation organizations to address complex problems and help improve their processes. While we provide solutions all over the world, you can find most of our customers in Europe and North America. You may recognize some of our product brands, such as GEONIS, ProOffice… and Geocortex®, which you offer in the Netherlands as GeoWeb.
VertiGIS has resolved to put Geocortex technology at the core of many of its solutions, including our GeoWeb modules. What advantages does this offer to GeoWeb users?
[RW] Geocortex can be thought of as a framework for building powerful web and mobile apps. This framework is a collection of configurable SaaS components that can also be installed on premises, which provide the common capabilities customers often look for when delivering geospatial apps to their users. Over 1500 customers around the world use Geocortex to configure apps using this framework approach rather than building apps themselves, so it’s only logical that VertiGIS would too. While the apps we’re building are part of vertical solutions that offer industry-specific functionality, having them configurable on top of Geocortex means that we can build those solutions using the same efficiencies our customers benefit from (faster development time, more reliable applications, etc.), while also ensuring that the end solution can still be completely configured by the customer, without programming.
Why is it that this technology will help us to be ready for the future?
[RW] If you think of building a geospatial application using conventional custom development approaches, you need to pick the programming language, which operating systems and browsers you are going to be compatible with, the underlying GIS infrastructure, etc. The problem is that all of these environmental aspects change… and change fast. So we find that by the time a custom app has reached maximum productivity, it’s time for a replacement based purely on rapid pace of technology change.
Using a configuration framework like Geocortex, in contrast, insulates you from these technology changes because future-compatibility is taken care of within the core framework. So you can focus on increasing business value, and configuring the framework for your users changing requirements instead of rewriting the same functionality you had before. A clear example of this can be found in Geocortex Workflow: customers who are building workflows to deploy inside of Geocortex HTML5 viewer, or ArcGIS® Web AppBuilder can rest assured that those same workflows will continue to operate in Geocortex Web or ArcGIS® Experience Builder. The underlying technology change is already accommodated by Geocortex Workflow.
How does VertiGIS think about continuous delivery? Should organizations upgrade f.e. 4 times a year?
[RW] A famous and commonly referenced data point is that a new version of Amazon.com is released every 6 seconds! While we don’t aspire for this level of rapid continuous delivery, we definitely understand the advantages. Continuous delivery means we can learn from what our customers are doing with the software and incorporate that feedback quickly, we can introduce new value as soon as its ready, and we can correct issues in a timely manner if they come up.
We typically release Geocortex products approximately every 2 months (or more accurately 5 times per year). Customers using the SaaS environment can take advantage of new additions to the software as soon as it’s pushed to production. Customers using our on-premises software can pick and choose, and upgrade when it makes sense for them. Either way we encourage customers to stay as current as possible so they get access to all of the new functionality with each release, as well as bug fixes and performance and security improvements.
What will our GIS landscape look like in the near future? What developments will take place in the next, say, 5 years, and how is VertiGIS preparing for these?
[RW] From our perspective, the future of GIS looks bright, and the pandemic only reinforced for us how important our customers’ work is, and how geospatial technology supports their critical processes for keeping communities operational, connected, and safe. The resiliency of the GIS landscape tells us that we will only see more developments and adoption: the openness of systems, software, and data in particular means GIS will continue to be more accessible to organizations of all sizes.
As for technology trends, the steady move to the cloud/SaaS continues to influence how we engineer our products and solutions, and the increasing use cases requiring advanced visualization (3D, AR/VR) and mobile GIS are on our minds as we plan for the future of our viewer products (Geocortex Web and WebOffice) and Geocortex Mobile, respectively.
What is essential for organizations to successfully implement a GIS?
[RW] Start with the “why” of your business or organization, clearly define what it is you want to achieve – including the processes you want to digitize or improve – and then start to think about the technology you want to use. Taking a step back to do some proper planning and scoping will save you wasted time in the future and ensure you are successful more quickly. While your technical environment and resources are certainly important considerations, it’s ultimately the needs of your customers, end-users, and staff that matter most… and fortunately, VertiGIS has decades of expertise in this regard and have been trusted advisors for thousands of customers serving millions of end-users all over the world, so we can help you determine the GIS- and technology stack that makes the most sense for you… and will continue to evolve alongside rapid technology change into the future.
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