Etienne Louw, the recently appointed managing director of South Africa‟s leading digital mapping company, MapIT, foresees that enriched mapping and geo-located information services constitute the next major phase in the demand for „intelligent‟ mapping.
Louw, appointed to head MapIT following the retirement of company founder Ray Wilkinson at the end of May, has noted that the demand for geographically located goods and services on „content rich‟ maps is growing at an astonishing pace.
“We‟re looking at „geo-networking‟ in a socially connected environment,” explains Louw. “There is increasing demand for maps that „talk back‟ or respond to specific human needs.”
According to Louw, maps can be used to locate the address of a shop or a restaurant, plot a route, analyse demographic trading patterns in a suburb, track a stolen vehicle, and even identify service providers in a call centre.
“We‟re ultimately talking about „intelligent‟ maps that feed off „live‟ incoming data – maps that interrogate the environment and deliver tailor-made information onto a smart-phone, a navigation device or an office PC,” adds Louw. “That is the essence of targeted marketing.”
To meet this demand, Louw says that businesses and consumers need maps that are enriched with geo-located businesses, corporate branding, contact information and the capacity to communicate instantly with any selected resource – either via mobile, through navigation, via the web or shortly via your internet connected TV.
MapIT would specifically target the mobile, web and corporate „enterprise‟ markets in South Africa.
“The time is right,” says Louw.. “Most company activities occur somewhere in a geo-located space, and in a corporate environment, geo-located details linked to analysis or communication is a must to sustain growth in business.”
Referring to the navigation and mobile markets, Louw explains that a new generation of spatially aware decision makers were assuming top management positions in business.
“They‟re much more spatially aware than the previous generation of managers,” says Louw.. “They eat and sleep the mobile market, and this is the market that MapIT is aligning itself to meet as it moves into the enriched mapping environment.” Louw emphasized that MapIT occupies a unique and powerful position in the market.
“We have two influential shareholders – media group Avusa on the one side, and TomTom, navigational solutions provider (through Tele Atlas Africa, a world leading international mapmaking company), on the other. Few other companies in the world can offer this kind of leverage to local business,” explains Louw.. “We intend using these strengths to maintain our reputation as Southern Africa‟s leading supplier of geo-spatial applications.”