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Working with full innovation approach

Alexandre Pestov, Founder and CEO vGIS
In the AEC niche, the cost of mistakes is high in terms of money and delays, so you have to optimize the time spent on site and monitor the construction workflows. 

Our area of work is all about innovation. What we are building is innovation. For us, innovation underpins everything. Because without technology, we are not digging holes, we are not putting any equipment in the ground and not designing new tools. So, for us, it is critical. What we are building is impacting other businesses. The Digital Twin lets consumers to take data and present it in a readable format both in the field and in office to make better decisions. In our space, digital innovation and technology changes everything.

vGIS is the specialist in visualizing spatial data. There are plenty of companies and technologists that let you take digital data and put it as a web interface or a web app. What we specialize in is Practical Mixed Reality, or Augmented Reality applications, specifically for spatial data. Our goal is to take it and bring it in the Augmented Reality world, so that people in the office can make better decisions and those in the field can avoid accidents and do the job well within time.

New focus

When we started our project in 2017, our core focus was in the municipal utility space. In the last one year, we found that we have a lot of traction in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) space. In this space, the cost of mistakes is really high, both in terms of money and delays. Further, the labour cost is quite high, so you have to optimize the time the engineers spend on the site and monitor how they do things. About 85% of our enquiries and new clients come from the AEC space.

We were the first company to integrate iModelHub, which is an iTwin technology from Bentley. Though we don’t consume BIM and show it in 3D, for infrastructure design, we can take the infrastructure and transform it into BIM-like models, even if it’s just a simple line. Our system can differentiate between the lines that are a part of a 3D model and the ones that present the pipe. About 40% or our clientele comes from the US and Canada, and the remaining 60% from Western Europe or Australia. Surprisingly, the most active countries, apart from of course the US, are Australia and the Netherlands. These countries have enormous demand for geospatial technology, and they are adopting it really fast. They are organized and they have the data.

Also Read: Geospatial industry skill gap: Ways to build the best workforce

Expansion and reinvention

In the AEC space, vGIS is used in designing construction and commissioning operations. But it could be more granular or combine things together. We have a lot of development going on at the backend that we are going to unveil this year. And the idea is that we want to have a single tool that accommodates all the needs and can be used across the spectrum from predesign to discovery, and all the way to operations. Because we are a startup, in the first two years, 90% of our revenue was reinvested in R&D. We realize that if you slow down or if you focus on selling without having a suitable product, it’s not going to end too well. So, we kept reinventing.

We have a full innovation approach, which means we envision things. Since it is very easy to come up with a solution for the problem that doesn’t exist, we tend to wait for our clients to provide feedback, following which we look at the patterns through multiple channels, and based on that we form our roadmap. We have a roadmap defined for another 18months at least.

Talent hunting

Our hiring strategies don’t have too many complexities. In our space, we have the vision, we move really fast and are focused on development. Right now, we are not trying to come up with the next Windows, Amazon Web Services, or the iPhone. We are trying to have a niche specific product, and for that we identify the skillset that we need and do the hiring. There is a lot of talent available in the market.

It is an exciting time to be in the industry. People want to dig deeper into the Digital Twin concept and the exciting technology that goes into that, including all the LiDAR scans and drones, soil samples and Ground Penetrating Radar scanners. It’s not about digging a hole and putting a cement block, it is about complex engineering, which can be quite exciting.

Crowded space

It is going to get very crowded soon. ESRI is investing heavily in AR development. It’s becoming a priority for many BIM organizations. Trimble just invested in their site vision. Bentley is doing multiple things on that front. Autodesk has multiple partners. We have an extremely fragmented ecosystem right now. We have tens of teams developing the same things around the world. I think there will be an explosion of fragmented solutions, small solutions everywhere, and then eventually they will consolidate.

Also Read: Digitalization redefining everything