Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One more Google Map based Indian web-site? NO…

…we call it technology and innovation applied to purpose!

So finally we made www.idhoom.com live – yesterday night!! It is alpha launch and site is now open for public use, comments and feedback. In less than 24 hours we have seen visits from 32 different cities, across the globe!! This is s a great moral boosting point for all of us at AUGTICS.

I request you, especially the fellow GIS industry professionals (who read this blog regularly), to explore the mapping functions and drop a line in the suggestion box!

This site one of it’s kind in India and is intend to be single point source of information about all the residential societies (apartment complexes) – existing ones as well as new (upcoming) ones.

For the people who live in these societies, we have provided several cool features that will benefit the users. Key advantages:

1. Web presence & unique identity for your society
2. Secure intra-society communication platform
3. Tools to manage your society affairs
4. Mapping features to know your neighbourhood better

Those of you who are searching for the apartment complexes will find the “easy to use”, “google type” search functions handy.

We hope that this site will benefit millions of people. We have planned to bring in several more features for the next launch and hope that time we will have significant content and traffic on the site!

What’s the connection of IDHOOM.COM with real estate? It’s not a property listing site!!! But those who intend to live in a specific apartment complex can use IDHOOM to know details beyond the individual flat they may be interested in selling/renting. That’s all at this stage!!!

What’s our business model to monetize from this site? I will answer this in some future post. But wanted to let you know that this site is first in line of few more “different” ones that will be launching in future – all catering to existing, unmet needs!!

Stay tuned! And if you live in an apartment, get your society registered here to give in a unique presence over WWW and let your fellow residents explore the power of IDHOOM and get benefited!!

Manoj Misra


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Is India a "test" market to train staff or a real GIS market?

So, finally after a long delay, AUGTICS will be launching the Alpha version of "community web-site" for "Society (Apartment/Group Housing) living" . I am very excited that AUGTICS team has created a product that is simple yet powerful. More on this on my next post - very soon!!

I was browsing GIS Development website and read the interview of Mohan Reddy, founder and CMD of Infotech Enterprises. Mohan has done a great job of starting Infotech and making Infotech as one of the top GIS companies in India (revenues in excess of USD 120 Million). So, it's always great to hear/read his view point. In the interview there is one specific Q&A on Indian geospatial market that I am reproducing below (I have highlighted the points that are interesting/relevant to this forum):
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Q. What is the relevance of domestic geospatial market?
A. The domestic market should improve. Due to the lack of a strong domestic market, Indian companies face lot of challenges in the international space. The point is, where will we get the expertise to provide value addition to global customers? If you look at the private sector which started using IT many years ago, as a result of that, you have a strong IT base for the country providing services globally based on experience gained in the domestic market. Coming back to the GIS industry, Survey of India is the only acknowledged mapping agency. There is nothing like a geospatial industry in existence over here. The domestic industry has to take off and there is enormous advantage to derive from it. Because my trainee engineers cannot immediately work on projects overseas, we have to first act locally, with local supervision, which is a cost effective way to train people to provide value added services overseas later on.

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One point comes out clearly. Companies like Infotech look at Indian market for picking up few new skills and train staff and then provide value added service to international clients. Clearly a good strategy!!!


However, there are few completely contrasting view "school of thoughts" are emerging in Indian market! In my past posts, I have referred about a start-up http://www.routeguru.com/

Couple of weeks back RouteGuru was launched for alpha testing. RouteGuru provides simple usable driving direction by using and referring to landmarks, liberally! Something that is very easy for common man to understand. I read review about RouteGuru somewhere and reviewer mentioned that RouteGuru will compete with with local paanwalas and rikshaw-drivers in providing driving directions. What interests me in Routeguru is the "GIS technology" that is applied and also dedication and determination of founder, Avinash Agrawal (an IIT Mumbai graduate, who has worked in the US, Middle East and India for several years and applying his knowledge and skills to serve the Indian market).

So one viewpoint of the Indian market is held by companies like Infotech and the other by new start-up companies like RouteGuru. One views comes from solid experience and proven business leader and other comes from the young entrepreneur, Avinash Agarwal, who has put in his life savings in a start-up venture looking at India as a big market!

I just wish that both contrasting views are strongly up-held in future as well. For that Infotech has to do well in future (more predictable) and "RouteGuru" has to become a viable business!

Manoj Misra

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who will launch navigable Indian street data first? We now know...

In my June 2 post, I asked the question - Who will launch navigable Indian street data first?

http://manojmisra.blogspot.com/2007/06/who-will-launch-navigable-indian-street.html

The answer is now known. It's Navteq!!
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NAVTEQ First Global Digital Map Supplier to Release Map of India June 14, 2007
Company: NAVTEQIndustry: Wireless / NavigationLocation: Chicago, IL, United States of America

Chicago,IL -- NAVTEQ , a leading global provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, has announced its first availability of digital map coverage in India. The NAVTEQ(R) map of India covers a population of more than 53 million and includes over 64,000 kilometers of road for the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and the roads connecting these cities. The city centers of six major cities are covered at NAVTEQ's Detailed Coverage level, the highest and most complete database specification. The surrounding city areas include all navigable and named roads. All coverage areas include Points of Interest (POI) which can ease the use of navigation destination functionality or help users locate places and attractions of interest.

India is the world's second fastest growing economy as well as its second largest country in population. "Our customers have told us that focusing on the country's main economic centers enables them to optimize their business plans," stated George Filley, Vice President of Product Management, Americas and Asia Pacific, for NAVTEQ. "Additionally, industry experts anticipate huge growth potential in fleet and tracking solutions. Creating a north-south corridor with the connector roads further extends our customers' potential opportunities."

"We continue to align efforts in support of our customers as they expand their business models to reach further into Asia. And our global specification enables them to gain efficiencies in areas such as compilation which can improve their time to market which is so critical in an economy like this," added Rafay Khan, Vice President, of Business Development for Asia Pacific.

NAVTEQ has extensive coverage in Asia including, along with India, maps for the following countries and territories: Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and through NAV2, NAVTEQ's joint venture in China, a map in China.

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It needs to be, now, seen how Navteq capitalizes on this early mover advantage. And how much time TeleAtlas takes to come up with a competing product?

Whatever is the answer, this is a very positive development for Indian Geospatial and LBS market! Given the fact that there are several LBS companies springing up in India, let's hope we see some Indian nominations in the next NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge!!!

Manoj Misra

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Indian Real Estate Forum

I am a member of "Indian Real Estate Forum". Even though that forum has got nothing to do with GIS (at least until now!), it's a great source to get information about happening in Indian Real Estate industry. Some of you will find it relevant for yourself and your friends, in case you have any question on Indian Real Estate. The link is www.indianrealestateforum.com

Will be happy to see some of you there,

Manoj Misra

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Who will launch navigable Indian street data first?

So finally good "street-mapping" data for India will be available, soon. And this will be one major step forward in the Indian GIS industry.

There are series of emails floating around about a new JV company in Pune. Without naming the company, there are several job postings that are put. Naukri.com list the following description:

"MNC with a leading global position in digital mapping and geospatial content products, launching a Joint Venture cooperation with an Indian GIS company. Key markets will include in-car navigation, portable and wireless navigation and location-based services in India and South Asia. The Indian operations will be part of a global organisation, covering six continents and activities in 64 countries and will be headquartered in Pune with regional centres throughout India."




From the positions that are there, you can easily make out that that the scale of operations will be massive!!!

Welcome TeleAtlas to India again! (My guess and do let me know if you get information otherwise). Two questions:

1. Why will TeleAtlas need to set-up India operations again (remember TA NOIDA operations was sold to Infotech) when they have good(?) Indian vendors?

2. Does TA JV partner has the management bandwidth to handle the scale?

Whatever is the answer( and definitely these are not the questions for public debate), one thing is for sure, Indian GIS companies will be loosing some staff to this JV operation. And managers will find one more reason for asking their management/board to increase the salaries of their staff to retain them!!! War for talent(?) is on and salaried staff never had it so good!!!

But with these rising salaries, will the Indian GIS companies be able to keep their cost low and remain competitive in the International market? Yes, if they are efficiently run and keep on increasing their top line year-on-year in excess of 30%. Keep a track of the growth!!!
Manoj Misra

Thursday, May 31, 2007

AUGTICS is hiring

Not a regular post item, but wanted to let you that that AUGTICS is hiring.

We are looking for people at entry levels (1-2 years experience) and high analytical skills. People from GIS industry who want to apply their knowledge for developing unique solutions for Indian Real Estate Industry will find the job most exciting and fulfilling. AUGTICS will offer the best possible GIS application job in India, a wonderful and challenging working environment and a fast track career growth. The selected candidates will be eligible for employee stock options. We do not want "yes sirs" and "blind followers". For that matter, we do not have a “sir culture” at AUGTICS. We are looking for people who have "can do" attitude and are willing to change and challenge the existing order! Yes, attitude is the top most characteristic that we will look for. If you know any candidates who will fit in the bill, please do pass on their resumes at jobs@augtics.com or get in touch with me directly (in strict confidence).

We have various openings at senior level as well. Please get in touch with me directly, if you are interested.

Stay tuned to for my regular post!

Manoj Misra

Monday, May 28, 2007

Are we map-literate?

I am getting less and less time to write the blog. Hope that I am able to reverse this trend soon as we get into the next phase of AUGTICS life!! But, I do manage to keep a close track of the development within the Indian geospatial market.

I have been overjoyed looking at the recent developments in the Indian Geospatial industry. In sharp contract to the business model followed by the existing market leaders (Rolta, Infotech, RMSI), there are several companies that are springing up with a product based strategy. In the past I have mentioned about SatNav, RouteGru etc. Couple of days back I met with another company Geotrackers (http://www.geotrackers.com/) started by young IIM graduates, that plans to come up with LBS products and services. There is another company Bannari Infotech - Geo Edge that claims to be a pioneer in location based services in India (are they?)!. Company write up says – "we pride ourselves with having created many world-class pioneering products in the location services industry, often offering solutions not available elsewhere in India and at times even in Asia”.

Also, news of MapMyIndia raising capital from Kleiner Perkins & Sherpalo Ventures (undisclosed amount) escaped industry attention. The money will be used for creating highest quality GIS information. Source: http://www.contentsutra.com/categories/name/Venture%20Capital/

In previous post I mentioned that Navteq and Teleatlas are planning to be active in Indian market very soon. Keep your focus on Reliance (ADA), who may spring a surprise in near future by coming up with web-gis/LBS products. Have tasted great initial success with Zapak, if they do plan to launch an LBS product, you will see a lot of publicity.

Clearly, a new trend has set-in and we can expect to see action and war in LBS space in India in the very near future!

But one of the fundamental points that I keep on asking myself – Is Indian population, in general map-literate? Do we really like “reading maps”? Are we good at “reading maps”? Are we “taught map reading at high-school level”? Do we really depend on maps in our day to day lives? The answer, most likely, will be no! We don’t sell maps at petrol pump stations (like in US). We do not find a hood map of a city when we go to a place like (Ranikhet). And we do not see “city map board” in our cities. This fundamental issue may have an implication in adoption of LBS technology in the market. Those who are able to come up with smart non-map based applications, will take lead and those who relay largely on map display based applications, may not get the desired results.

Manoj Misra



PS: "Ranikhet" is a beautiful hill station in Uttarakhand. I spent first 17 years of my life at Ranikhet. You can get a great view snow-clad Himayala range there and Ranikhet gets snow every winter. Forget air-conditioner, you don't even need a fan in summers!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

M&A activities in Indian GIS industry

M&A activities in Indian GIS Industry seems to be on the rise..

1. A press release from Infotech, today, indicates that they have acquired majority stake in a Hyderabad based GIS start-up Geospace Integra. I had mentioned about Geospace Integra in one of my earlier post and was impressed to see the company growth since its inception about a year back. What's surprising is that the company put itself on the block within the first year of inception! What's even more surprising is that Infotech, one of the reasonably successful Indian GIS companies, in India felt the need to acquire another Indian company to grow it's India market !!! Read press release at..

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Infotech Enterprises makes strategic investment to address geospatial market opportunities in India and Middle East

Infotech Enterprises Ltd on May 15, 2007 has announced its strategic move to address Geospatial business opportunities in India and the Middle East by taking majority stake in Hyderabad-based Geospatial Integrated Solution Pvt Ltd (Geospace Integra).The geospatial market in India and Middle East is estimated at Rs 1000 crore and is expected to see a 12% growth rate over the next five years. The India government's Open Map Policy and Survey of India's large-scale mapping initiatives are unlocking geospatial opportunities in several areas. These include land records; urban planning; environment, forestry and natural resources; utility infrastructure planning and management; and defence. Similarly, the rapid pace of infrastructure development in the Middle East has led to a growing demand for geospatial services in that region.The Company is a world leader in geospatial services, particularly for the telecom, utilities and government markets in North America, Europe and Australia. It also enjoys a significant presence in the telecom and utility segments in India. By investing in Geospace Integra and leveraging the combined entity's strengths, the Company moves into an even stronger position to address the high-growth geospatial markets in India and the Middle East.Under the terms of the agreement, the Company and Geospace Integra will consolidate their geospatial business in India and Middle East into a single entity led by Chandrasekhar Nori. Chandrasekhar Nori has over 25 years of experience in Remote Sensing and mapping industry in India. He is credited with engineering and development of photowriting and imaging technology for Indian defence industry. The new entity will operate as a subsidiary of the Company.BVR Mohan Reddy, the Company's Chairman and Managing Director commented: "As we continue to reinforce our leadership position in the global geospatial markets, India and the Middle East become increasingly strategic to our growth objectives. By leveraging the knowledge and experience of Geospace Integra, supported by Chandrasekhar Nori's leadership, we have a compelling value proposition for customers in these markets. We expect to achieve Rs 100 Crore revenue in the next 3 years from our India and Middle East business."
Source: Equity Bulls
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2. November 2006, I met with one of the founders of Manchitra Service who mentioned to me that they are existing out of business and and company will have new owners. There was no formal news about this transaction but a visit at the Manchitra website will indicate some changes in the management team.

3. A leading global street mapping company has closed (or is very close to finalizing) the deal to acquire a Pune based GIS data company to further it's Indian street data plans (I hope that there is a formal company release soon)

Although the size of these deals is not known and is not likely to be too big, it's a good pointer to the fact that GIS industry in Investing - in India based GIS business! As I said earlier, a bright future ahead!!

Manoj Misra

Monday, May 7, 2007

Why did I change my focus to Real Estate?

This post is for friends and past, present & potential business associates!

Many of you questioned my logic of leaving the GIS industry and focusing my energies in the Real Estate industry instead. I did not elaborate much on what will be the exact nature of business AUGTICS will be doing and what is our business model and hence your questions was reasonable and expected. I have received several requests for knowing exact dates of launch of our corporate website and well as the portal. The wait will still continue as we continue to refine both, but we are doing what is most important at this stage - engaging with a lot of potential customers. However, now I will make an attempt to explain our new initiative – in bits and pieces!!

Recently, I made one good friend. He used to be actively dealing in the financial market in past and is currently focusing his energies on several diverse areas. There was a specific discussion on a company’s stock performance and he gave a fantastic analysis. He ended the discussion by saying – “you can take a man out of market but you can not take a market out of man”! How true it’s for someone who has lived with GIS technology for years!! You can take a man out of GIS but can not take GIS out of man!!!

Well now on to the reason to shift focus to Real Estate Industry. The most hackneyed clich√© in the real estate business is that the three most important factors in the value of land are Location, Location, and Location. That’s the reason I am focusing on Real Estate!!

Manoj Misra

Monday, April 30, 2007

Google Inc ATC (Authorised Training Center) in India?


I found this interesting advertisement in a leading Indian newspaper daily (today morning, on my flight from Delhi to Mumbai) - Google Inc ATC announcement (see attached image) for SKETCHUP training in Indian.

Few Questions:

1. Is Google SKETCHUP so complex to operate that there is training required?

2. Does Google Inc has a authorised training center for SKETCHUP PRO V6 training anywhere else in world?

If anyone has any idea about this google ATC, please drop in your comments and views!

Manoj Misra

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Indian GIS Industry and University Collaboration

Last few weeks were extremely hectic (on AUGTICS front).Travelled to Mumbai (several times), Pune, Bhuvneswar, Puri and Konark and made new associates & friends with diverse backgrounds, in addition to exploring diversity of India. It was truly a very rich and rewarding experience on business and personal front. However, with all the activities, I could not keep pace with blogging. I hope I will be able to find more time in the coming days..

I mentioned in last post that I am very impressed with the quality of remote sensing research work that is bring carried out by IIT-R. Few months back, at at conference at Chennai, I got a preview of the exemplary work that is being carried out by Centre of Remote Sensing at Bharathidasan University, in the field of natural disaster mapping & mitigation (Seismicities, Landslides, Tsunamis, Flood etc). I also saw a discussion list on Yahoo Group (GIS India) where someone is collecting names of institutes offering GIS course and I noticed that the list contains names of over 60 institutes (on last count) and almost each of the top university in India now runs a GIS department. I do not know (comprehensively and fully) details of the research work that is being carried out in these labs, but one can safely assume that significant quality thinking is going on in the labs.

One reason for arriving at the assumption is the learning from interviewing the graduates from many of these universities - one point is loud & clear that the quality of education and research focus in the institutes is relatively good. Yet another point that stands out clearly is that when many of these students graduate and seek jobs in Indian GIS industry, they do not get the jobs that are challenging enough – or get into jobs where skills are underutilized.

So what are the reasons for this problem?

During my discussion with professors at some of these institutes & universities, one point came out very clearly - there is very less or minimal interaction between the Indian GIS industry & these institutes. Several great ideas evolves in these labs that can be monetized by the GIS industry, if there is appropriate collaboration. Also, there are several India specific GIS problems, faced by the the GIS industry, that can be tacked by these labs (due to availability of quality resources and R&D focus).

Adena Schutzberg posted a blog, last month, at allpointsblog - Consortium of Ohio Universities on Navigation and Timekeeping ( The Consortium of Ohio Universities on Navigation and Timekeeping, COUNT, includes experts from Miami, Ohio and Ohio State universities and the Air Force Institute of Technology, and will provide expertise to industry professionals and other scientists in those areas. According to Maimi of Ohio officials, COUNT has 40 faculty members, more than 100 students and more than $10 million in annual research funding).

I wish to see such an initiative between Indian GIS industry and the universities!!!

Based on the above points, I am sure that you will agree with me (fully in this case) that there is a need for increasing collaboration between Indian GIS industry and the educational institutes offering GIS courses and carrying out GIS research & development.

How do we increase industry-academia interaction? Give me your thoughts and suggestions and also stay tuned to hear my different view. This time definitely very soon!!

Manoj Misra

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Is the World’s Geospatial development story complete without India?

Recently I visited IIT Roorkee and was very impressed with the quality of research work that is being carried out in the field of Remote Sensing by brilliant research scholars guided by able Professors. While I was giving final touches to my “different view” report on IIT Roorkee visit, a news-paper analysis caught my attention and I am saving my report to blog at a later time!

Google, Yahoo, Intel, IBM, Adobe, Microsoft - the line-up on MNC’s which have opened their own R&D centers in India is a virtual Who’s Who of the IT industry. India is emerging as a hot destination for investment in research and development. An article in Times of India has analysed Mirosoft, Intel, Adobe & IBM India R&D. Here’s the summary:

Microsoft

  • Two research facilities in India – Hyderabad & Bangalore
  • Hyderabad center is the largest development unit outside the US
  • Products by Microsoft India : Data Protection Manager; Virtual PC 2007 ; Office Mobile which includes Word, Excel & Powerpoint ; SQL Mobile

INTEL

  • Intel’s largest non-manufacturing unit outside US is in Bangalore
  • Products by Intel India: Teraflops research chip; Centrino Duo technology; Quad core processor; Community PC

ADOBE

  • Two centers in India – Noida (biggest outside US) & Bangalore
  • Products by Adobe India: PageMaker 7.0; Acrobat Reader on Palm OS & Pocket PC; Frame Maker, Page Maker Pack, Photoshop Album ; Premiere Elements 3.0

IBM

  • Two centers in India – Bangalore & Delhi
  • Products by IBM India: Web-based, interactive language technology; Business finder technology

Can we map a similar pattern in the world's geospatial R&D? Actually, geospatial industry in also following the similar route. MapInfo has recently opened a development center at Noida, within the last two years Bentley has set-up a development center at Pune, Microsoft development center at Bangalore is focusing on GIS, Google center at Hyderabad is doing the same! Intergraph was the first to set-up India center years back (1994?).

But I have few bigger questions:

  • Is India truly seen as a R&D center by World’s geospatial development industry & community?
  • Is the world’s geospatial development story complete without India?

Stay tuned to “Different View” to discuss this. Over the next few weeks I will put my thoughts on India’s research and development potential for World’s Geospatial Industry!

Manoj Misra

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Navigation Systems and Driving Directions - do we need them in India?

In 2000, Satyam incubated a division/company that was know as Satyam Navigation. In the initial days focus (or at least that is what was known to me) of this group was to develop in-car navigation product. I was asked for my view the future of such a system in India and at that point of time I did not see much. My reasoning - instead of buying a car navigation system, I would roll down my car window and in highly populous and friendly India, I will find more than one willing person to help me in reaching my destination!! I had several personal experiences - if you ask for direction - people not just give direction but even offer to sit in car and lead you to the destination! Was I correct in my reasoning?

Krzysztof Kolodziej in his report "Location 2006 Conference – a Report from India" provides a great overview of Indian GPS and Telematics Market. Part of the report reads: "The Indian market is now at $22 million, but there is potential for growth to $448 million in the next three to four years. GPS companies (both local and international) are competing to grab a piece of this Indian market, especially in logistics for tracking cargo and trucks across the country. Prices for GPS devices in India range from $232 to over $2,325. Garmin will bring its 35 different models of GPS devices to India, ranging from $813 for a basic model to $2,325 for a high-end model (route planning with voice prompts). Local company SatNav launched SatGuide, a car navigation device, and is hoping to sell 3,000 units in the first year. This Pocket PC-based device (costing $883) has maps for 10 major Indian cities. Other companies like Sun Micro Systems (India) are building prototypes to provide location-based services for mobile roaming users. Wipro has developed GPS applications for clients such as those in fleet management, location-based services and automatic driver assistance." His report concludes with the statement - Watch out for the “Crouching Tiger” - it is set to pounce!

India VC Circle blog has a news that reads "Bennett, Coleman Acquires Stake In SatNav Technologies" So there is a future potential and there is action!

I like folks at SatNav. Not because two of the management team folk worked with me at RMSI Hyderabad office, but because these guys thought of a concept, ahead of it's time in India, have firmly kept their focus on the telematics market and are going great when the market seems to be poised for growth.

But has the situation really changed in India and can't we still roll down the windows and ask for direction? I can share one of my recent experience. Few days back, I received the following driving directions from one of my friends inviting us to birthday party of his son:
_____________________________________________________________
From South Delhi/Dhaula Kuan/Central Delhi:
1. Come all the way to the Domestic Airport.
2. You will see the sign for Dwarka at the Airport roundabout.
3. Drive towards the sign- it is a straight road that will take you first under a bridge and then over a flyover. It is close to about 8 kms of stretch.
4. Once you get down of the flyover, keep towards the left. And at the first intersection (red light), take a left.
5. Once you take a left, you will see MTNL exchange on your right (other side of the road).
6. Now keep on the right and at the first red light, take a right.
7. Keep driving straight for maybe 1.2 kms, when you will hit a 4 way junction. It does not have a red-light but it is relatively busy. Cross it carefully!
8. Cross this and keep on driving straight. The road will curve slightly to right and then to left. This stretch maybe about 1.5 km or less- I have never measured it.
9. You will hit another 4-way junction- a again a busy junction and can't be missed. Take a left here and then drive straight.
10. After driving about .7 kms, you will hit a very busy cross-junction. This is Ashirwaad Chowk. On your left will be Pizza hut and Costa COffee. On left, across the road is Akash Institute. On your right will be grocery shops. On diagonally right, you will see Ayushman Hospital. You need to cross this junction. As soon as you cross it, the restaurant will be on your left hand side. There is a big board that says "SHUBHAM VALLEY RESTAURANT."
___________________________________________________________________

We reached the venue, without the need to roll down window!!! If I did not had the directions, I would have surely required much more time and more petrol(gas) to reach the location!!!

The way directions were provided, by my friend, was really flawless. I felt that it will be difficult to model such directions in an application!! Answer came in my "Feedreader" box today -blog post (3/14) on the Live Maps/Virtual Earth blog - " Sending Directions the Web 2.0 Way" ! The post describes the feature of Live Map, that allows you to add your own personal driving direction notes on top of the standard driving directions!!!

So what should I conclude on future of in-car navigation/personal navigation/web-direction system for India?

Manoj Misra

PS: Action is picking up on the AUGTICS front and hence a bigger gap in posting the blog!!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Will the younger generation bring in a revolution in Indian GIS industry?

The best part of being an entrepreneur is that you explore and experience new horizons on a continuous basis and learn new things regularly! With clearer business plan, core team in place, first few clients in sight and groundbreaking portal getting ready for testing and launch, we have started preparing AUGTICS for seed funding. My search for potential investors took me to a news item titles “GVFL to fund RapidRadio's RFID Technology”. Apart from the decent funding and the funding company, what attracted me towards RapidRadio are the technology (RFID) and the 20 something founders of the company. And it motivated me enough to write this post!

RFID technology holds immense potential and has been talked in US and other countries for last several years. The good part is that RFID Technology has now overcome the technology hype and is now on the slope of enlightenment.

RFID technology, combined with GPS and GIS technology holds lot of promises and we will see a several applications bringing in changes to the way we do things today. It will definitely help companies in better inventory management and better logistics but a lot more will be possible! Imagine picking up all your groceries from store and bill getting generated automatically as you walk past the payment counter (well the RFID tags on your groceries will be read and a bill generated automatically – no need for long wait in the long ques)!!

Few days back, a 20 something person contacted me after reading this blog and wanted me to see his creation a “map editor” and a “map viewer”. The person is not from GIS industry, has not met anyone from the GIS industry so far and I was the first privileged person from the GIS industry to view is creation! He has been working on the SW creation for last several years, as his passion is to create tools for visualization! I must tell you that the work he has done is really excellent and if it’s productized, can easily create some unease for the existing order!

My recent discovery of routeguru that is started by 20 something folks (read my Feb 6, opening post Start of a Different View - Indian GIS Industry), 20 something Indian GIS professional outnumbering professionals of all age and of same age from rest of the world to participate in GIS communities on ORKUT (read my Feb 15 post Indian GIS data - bright future ahead !), my meeting with 20 something person who has developed a fantastic GIS data editor and viewer, & RapidRadio, set-up by 20 something, prompted me to ask this question: “Will the younger generation bring in a revolution in Indian GIS industry?”

The question is open to everyone to interpret & respond, but I must confess that looking at this trend, I do feel a lot more aged at 36! Happy Holi and go out and get a DIFFERENT COLORFUL VIEW!!

Manoj Misra

Friday, February 23, 2007

Is Indian GIS industry only a low end data conversion industry?

The main objective of my writing this BLOG was to remain connected, occasionally, with geo-spatial industry while I am working on establishing AUGTICS. The response to this BLOG is amazing with several hundred people from exactly 100 different geographic locations have, so far, read this India specific BLOG!! I have taken the adjacent snapshot from GOOGLE ANALYTICS that allows me to see from where the traffic is reaching the BLOG!

How is this possible? Simple – the IP address from where the BLOG is assessed is geo-coded and then displayed on the map above! Cool. Today this geo-coding is done at a city level. Tomorrow as the technology progresses furtherer, the resolution will get better and better (your IP will be tagged to your precise location of surfing). Imagine the implication - exact location of IP being mapped, then analyzing your “surfing pattern”, “google adds” will not just be based on the text you are reading but also based on your individual behavior (surfing pattern), increasing the probability of your buy on clicking the advertisement multi-fold! This will be GIS and analytics at its best! Clearly this will be feasible in near future and clearly GIS is going to become pervasive in everyday life!!

My BLOG generated a very interesting discussion on the Yahoo Group - GIS India. I have picked the following text from the emails by Carl, Abhijeet, and Maneesh.

  • “Most of the so called GIS work has been either Digitization [30%] / writing codes for customizing ESRI/MapInfo products[30%], which I really don’t feel as GIS. and most of which are for the US of A and has no relevance for our country.”
  • I know that starting at the digitizing level is a good start for an entry in GIS, but the pay is very appalling according to what IT pays for a person at the same level and the GIS person is gonna be 3 years behind at any level, compared to a normal standard
  • GIS in India is just CAD and only CAD. do it in micro-station or any other sophisticated version, western countries are utilizing cheap production rate in India
  • As far my concerns about India, There are whole lots of things happening around the world. It seems to me that we as implementers are lagging too behind. Ironically, the Gap between innovation (Or perhaps the adoption of innovations) and implementation is growing larger day and night. When-ever, we get to share the similar platform along with the rest of the world, in-spite of the fact that We are being capable, we do appear to be out of the place (For instance-We still talk about converting our legacy maps in to
    digital format."its just -tip of an ice berg- lot can be mentioned).

There were few other emails supporting or opposing the above issues. On this post, at a starting point, I would like to provide my “different view”!

So is Indian GIS industry all about low end GIS data conversion?

There is absolutely no doubt that thousands of people are employed by GIS companies to work on data conversion tasks. Key reasons for data conversion forming bulk of the Indian GIS industry are:

- India cost advantage vis-à-vis developed countries (same logic on which the entire Indian software industry was set and is doing well)

- Several large conversion houses in the US (AGRA BAYMONT, ASI, etc) and other counties have closed down conversion shops in local countries, simply because Indian and other low cost countries were able to carry out the quality data creation task at much lower cost.

In general “data” forms a bulk part of any GIS system (~60%) and coupled with the natural flow of conversion work to India, Indian companies, put together, will be doing excess of ~60% work as conversion job!!! Is this trend going to reverse? Not in the near future. On the contrary on account of boom in the utility companies across the globe, increase in demand of high resolution (and 3D) data and India data development initiatives, I expect that the there will be significant increase in conversion work in next few years!!!! Is this bad development for the Indian GIS industry? Not at all - it makes a great economic sense for the end clients, great business for the Indian companies and employment for several people. So, isn’t’ Indian GIS industry all about low end GIS conversion! Yes, if you look at this visible bulk of work that is happening and ignore the rest of the development around!

So what are the projects/activities other then data conversion? Few pointers:

- Intergraph, Bentley & AutoCAD, all have a product development center in India. It’s a matter of time before likes of MapInfo and ESRI follows the suit and takes advantage of quality talent and lower cost of development in India

- SAC, NRSA and several other government organizations are working on several groundbreaking projects.

- The quality of research works premium educations institutions like IITs, NITs, Anna University, BIT/BITS etc and number of students taking interests in geo-spatial technology has improved and increased multi-fold over the last several years

- Private education institutions like Symbiosis have started producing quality GIS professionals

- Most of the established GIS companies have a sound software development group and several of then are setting up consulting divisions that offers solutions to clients based on geospatial technology

- Almost all IT majors Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Satyam etc have a GIS division/group focusing on GIS application

- And there are companies like SatNav and CE focused on developing India specific products

The eco-system for rapid expansion of GIS application projects within India is just about getting right. With government policy aiding the industry, increased visibility of the technology (thanks to Google Earth/Maps and MS Virtual Earth!), likely availability of Indian data in near future, GIS industry in India is about to experience a revolution! And the constraints that are here, in India, will give rise to new innovations and new types of applications and products that could be further implemented in other developing countries!

Is Indian GIS Industry poor paymaster?

Salaries or (let me reword is at “price” of a professional) is largely driven by economic reason of demand and supply and the self-life of the skill. Yes there are several companies that pay a very small amount to digitizing operators largely because the skill set required to do the task is available in India in abundance. But the price (salary) commanded by skilled GIS professional at times is higher than the normal IT price! Currently there is a sort of “war for talent” going on for the skilled GIS professionals in industry and only weapon used in this is money!

What does this mean to individual professionals?

But while industry will evolve based on the market forces, government policies and industry dynamics, industry will always have mix of job (low end – high end, low paying – high paying) without exception! Within that framework, there is enough room for individual professionals to shape their careers – if you have been working on GIS data conversion for years, go ahead and enhance your skill set’s (and thus your self-life and self-value!!) matching with the dream job you want to perform – and surely you will get your dream job!! It’s the prerogative of individual professional to shape his/her career and destiny. Industry will, most likely, value you not more than the value you put to yourself!

Remain tuned with this BLOG to hear on Indian GIS industry from me and keep writing your comments on the BLOG! And BTW, now you can reach this BLOG by simply typing www.manojmisra.com – easy to remember, if you spell my name correctly!

Manoj Misra

PS: On AUGTICS front, things have started rolling (but not as fast as we really wish)!! We are making new contacts and friends on every day basis. Portal development is progressing fast and is on track. We have zeroed in on the name for portal (and have it registered) and future Chief Research Officer for AUGTICS identified and informal offer made and! Market for the work that we are doing look promising and exciting based on research and meetings with potential customers and competition!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mapping the future !!

It's the biggest news in today's Times Of India - Mapping the future (click on the link to read the news)! It reads, by March-April, websites will be announced which will allow users to access all the 4,800 Survey of India maps where at the click of a mouse geographical and physical data can be superimposed!

This development might be the biggest catalyst in changing the face of Indian GIS industry.

Couple of years back I was at the meeting organized by CSDMS (GIS Development) between Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Science and Technology and Industry. The signs were very clear then that big change was about to come!

This event also highlights what Median can achieve - great work GIS Development folks! Keep it up guys!!

Now it's up-to the GIS professional and companies in India to capitalize on this development....

Manoj Misra

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Indian GIS data - bright future ahead !

On AUGTICS front, exciting time and smart & hard work continues. The real estate/community portal development is coming along nicely with the team doing exceptional job in not just coding but coming up with superb ideas. I continue to engage prospective clients, partners, investors and getting content and AUGTICS ready for website and portal launch!! I somehow stole some time to write this post...

Today morning, in my RSS Feedreader box, a specific news caught my attention: Mumbai Police Implement Intergraph Public Safety System . Years back, I had made a presentation to a group of over 20 high level police officials of an IT savvy southern Indian state and while they all were very excited about using GIS applications and saw enormous benefits in implementing it, non-availability of detailed mapping data became the show stopper. It appears that things are now changing..

Map World Forum was a good place to gauge the mood of the industry. Each and every person I met was extremely excited about how their companies are growing and about the future potential. That’s confirmed from the information from the publicly traded companies like Infotech and Rolta and quick ramp-up of a Hyderabad bases GIS start-up company Geospace Integra to close to 100 people mark within the first year of inception!! Most of this growth is driven by outsourcing, but there is a lot happing around in India, which, in future, is likely to change the Indian GIS scenario significantly! Let’s take a different view...

Recently I logged on to ORKUT to learn a bit about how community and networking portals work (I need some of that knowledge for AUGTICS). To my surprise I found several GIS related communities. Here are some interesting tit-bits that I found from ORKUT:

  • There are over 20 GIS communities on ORKUT and the biggest community has over 1300 members with more than 90% from India!
  • My search for people above 30 years of age in the GIS word retuned just 20 (and for above 35 only 4) people from the list of thousands!
  • There are ORKUT communities of companies like Infotech, RMSI, Rolta etc and that posts on them can give you some insight on the company cultures.
  • From the various posts. I quickly assimilated a list of over 60 companies working in GIS arena. List indicates that all the major SW companies (Infosys, Wipro, Satyam etc, apart from TCS) have their own GIS staff /divisions.
  • IBM India is working on AutoDesks Mapguide (?!)
  • Collage students are developing digital maps of India at Google Hyderabad office!
In the last few days these were the two news of that are worth taking note of (click on the links to read more)

From other sources, I also learned that:

  • Indian government is planning a massive GIS mapping budget that will far exceed the current SOI budget
  • Navteq is developing India street navigation data
  • Microsoft also has plans for India data development.
I also recently visited mapmyindia site and it's heartening to see increased data on this site.

So can we find a trend from this? Yes, at least one- there is focus on the Indian data development!!!

In the coming days, with government and industry initiative, we can expect a lot of data to come in public domain or be available from private sources at a reasonable cost. This will act as a fuel for growth of GIS applications in India. A growth where India focused applications impacting the masses will be developed, where applications will be developed to solve the Indian consumer problems. A growth that will only be limited by our imagination, innovations or availability of trained manpower!

It will not be a surprise if data availability acts as a catalyst for more and more international players to come and focus on Indian GIS market to sell their concepts and products! So, an exciting time lies ahead for the Indian GIS industry!!

Manoj Misra

PS:
1. Thanks you for posting comments as well as your direct emails and SMSs to me. Keep writing and sending your feedback. It's helpful and really appreciated.

2. Apart from the data development activities, there are significant developments happening on the Product Development, Remote Sensing and software application development in the Indian GIS market. Stay tuned to hear more!

3. Yogendran @ IIC has done a wonderful analysis of GIS industry in 2000. The report is at GIS Lounge and it still makes an interesting read!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Start of a Different View - Indian GIS Industry

On 4th of January this year, I bid a formal farewell (that was preceded by several informal farewell parties) from RMSI. In August 1992, at the suggestion of my guide at IIT Delhi Prof Rema Devi, I met with Ajay Lavakare who was in the process of setting up RMSI in a small basement office at Pushp Vihar, South Delhi. That’s when I first heard about GIS! Ajay and GIS got me motivated enough to deviate from my focus on programming, fuzzy logic, modeling & simulation techniques for EIA (Environmental Impact Analysis) and join a GIS start-up!

The last one month has been really hectic and interesting where I have spent hours in preparation of setting up a new venture. Several tasks like government approvals, liaison with Chartered Accountant and legal experts, portal as well as website development, meeting with VCs, meetings with potential customers, partners and employees, networking with entrepreneurs and industry professionals, connecting with friends and associates for guidance & support in addition to firming up my business plan have really kept me engaged, engrossed and energized. AUGTICS formally got incorporated on February 2, 2007!

My hope was that I will remain away from GIS Industry related activities, for some time, but persuasiveness of Sanjay Kumar CEO, GIS Development got me to Map World Forum where I presented a technical paper titled “Metadata and data quality: Will it impact interoperability?” in the seminar on "Standards and Interoperability". It was a privilege to meet with fellow speakers of the session Michael Jones (CTO Google Earth), Dr Sailelesh Nayak (Director INCOIS, India), Murray Armstrong (CustomWeather Inc., USA), senior executives from Autodesk, ESRI, Oracle and chair of the session Mark Reichardt, President OGC.

I also met with several other GIS professionals at Map World Forum and what amazed me was the very high participation from international delegates – so Map World Forum was truly a global forum. I must mention about my meeting with Dr N C Gautam that left me extremely impressed with his energy and enthusiasm for GIS even years after his retirement from NRSA . His enthusiasm, in some ways, reflects volume about the opportunities in GIS industry in India!

Although I could make it to Map World Forum only one day, I filled myself up by following the exceptionally informative All Points Blog . The one article, titled” “GIS Technology: An International Market of Enormous Potential” by Joe Francica on directions magazine specially caught my attention. This provides a great perspective on what is happening and can happen in GIS industry in India. The world is taking note!!

Few days back I received an email from Tie Delhi describing the success story of fellow Tie Delhi chapter members. One of the stories was about the award grant to RouteGuru by Techtribe. (Press release at techtribe website reads --- “RoutGuru’s founding team leveraged the techTribe platform to collaborate with others in the GIS domain, receive mentorship from successful entrepreneurs in the mobile and GIS domain, and receive grant money of up to 1 million rupees to bring the concept to reality”). Clearly a lot is happing within Indian in and around GIS industry.

The beautiful “Best Paper Presentation Award” trophy that I got at Map World Forum, the elegant Diamond Star trophy (highest award instituted by RMSI and first one awarded to me on Jan 4) that adorn my office and eye opening learning from meetings at Map World Forum and press of the past one month keeps me reminding of my association with GIS industry and makes me think a bit more about geospatial industry in India…

I am initiating this BLOG to share with you, some of, my past 15 years of experience with Indian industry, reflect on the current market trends and attempt predicting the future of Indian geospatial Industry. So stay tuned to get - A Different View!!

Your feedback and comments are highly welcome, specially on what issues and subjects will interest you most!

Manoj Misra

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