April 7, 2014 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Enterprise GIS and IT Solutions
Brendan previously served as GeoDecisions’ senior vice president and operations manager, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm. He also served as program manager for the patented IRRIS geospatial decision support system. Brendan is a frequent presenter at geospatial events and contributor to geospatial and logistics publications. He and his team have been the recipient of numerous awards.
Prior to joining
GeoDecisions in 1999, Brendan was a senior technical lead for L. Robert
Kimball and Associates’ Telecommunications and Technology Division, where he
developed innovative applications to support the next generation of E-911
services. He also worked for Rand McNally and Company in the New Media
Division as team member of the CODiE™ award-winning, first generation,
commercial address routing and mapping products TripMaker®, StreetFinder®,
and the New Millennium World Atlas®. Brendan holds a bachelor of science in
geography from The Pennsylvania State University, and he is a Microsoft®
Certified Professional, a Certified Geographic Information Systems
Professional, and a member of the National Defense Transportation
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – April 7, 2014
CEOCFO: Mr. Wesdock, what was your role when you started with GeoDecisions? How has the company evolved as you have grown and led the company?
Mr. Wesdock: I first started with GeoDecisions back in 1999 as a Senior GIS Developer. I was more of a technical person at that time. Shortly after, I started working on a project called IRRIS, the Intelligent Road/Rail Information System. In 2002, that led me to the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, of the country in order to support our main IRRIS client. Eventually, as my role with IRRIS grew, I became vice president of our military sector and then took over operations of GeoDecisions in 2011. In 2012, I took over as president of GeoDecisions. As my duties evolved, so did my vision. As I moved from a single project focus with primary clients to multiple projects and multiple clients, things changed. Also, your view of the world changes a little bit. In my case, I went from a narrow focus to more of a global focus, considering where our company is headed and where we can help our customers grow.
CEOCFO: When talking with a prospective customer, how do you explain enterprise geospatial technology and what it can do for someone? What are you providing and why do people need it?
Mr. Wesdock: The saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If a picture is worth a thousand, a map is worth a million. That is what I always say. I think that no matter what industry our customers are in; whether it is government sector or commercial sector; or in transportation or insurance, they all have a large amount of geographic data that can improve their business or operations, whether they know it or not. On average, about 90 percent of data that any organization has contains a geographic component. We are able to take that data and leverage it for our customers, turning that data in knowledge, to help either grow their businesses or make them more efficient. For example, GeoDecisions took a large manufacturing firm that had lots of information within their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that included its customers and distribution points and all of its logistics information. They thought that they were entirely optimized and that it could not get any better. However, we took that data out of their ERP, and brought it into GIS and they were able to realize that they were not as efficient as they could be. That was definitely a game changing moment for them, where they could see, on a map, the inefficiencies just at a glance.
CEOCFO: You mention a number of industries on your website. What are the top industries that you are going to focus in 2014 and why?
Mr. Wesdock: We have three areas that we are focusing on right now. One is our international growth. We started working internationally in 2008 in Abu Dhabi and we have several active projects there. Since that time, we also have worked in Canada, Mexico, Belize, Pakistan, Macedonia, and Malaysia. Our international focus is to grow our footprint in the Middle East, with emphasis in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, and possibly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Our second focus area is the commercial sector. We have had a commercial group for about 10 years now, however, we have really only expanded this area over the past few years to different industries, ranging from insurance to manufacturing. We have had quite a bit of success over the past two years in the commercial space, and have been able to expand greatly, especially in the insurance arena. Finally, we are invested in several products. We have GeoILS®, IRRIS, Rapid Response™, and GeoPLAN®. Although currently separate products, we want to align these applications as a single suite of products that we offer across the company.
CEOCFO: Why that decision now? What prompted it?
Mr. Wesdock: We really need to maximize the ability of these applications to be used together. GeoILS is our enterprise asset tracking tool, which is a derivative of our IRRIS product that is focused on the military and homeland security. All of our products leverage our alerting capability, which is based in Rapid Response. GeoPLAN accomplishes this for the local government market. Therefore, they all work together, but they have never been marketed together. That is really where we want to take things in 2014.
CEOCFO: You wear several hats with your parent company, Gannett Fleming, as well as president of GeoDecisions. What are some of the common goals that planners, designers and builders share with the geospatial and IT professionals? Would you put it all together for us, as to what you are involved with?
Mr. Wesdock: We all have the common goal of serving our clients’ best interests. However, what drives us all is innovation. One example that cuts across Gannett Fleming and GeoDecisions, as a whole, has been our building information modeling (BIM) and GIS integration. BIM is relatively newer in the engineering world, where we take computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) from a 2D world to a 3D world. Then, not only just using that for the design, but we also use it in operations and integrate it with GIS. For example, through BIM-GIS integration you can take your 3D detailed facility or highway model that you are building and connect it to a bigger picture along with all of your other assets. This could range from a campus, town or state. Consequently, you can visualize an entire project lifecycle, from initial design to maintenance, whether that is a road, bridge or building.
CEOCFO: Do you find that most companies today understand the need for geospatial information or is it still a bit outside the norm?
Mr. Wesdock: It is still a little bit on the fringe, or in the margin, I guess you would say, but it has grown over the years. When I started in the industry, back in the mid-1990s, GIS was definitely a tool of the experts. It was in the back room run by the analysts, and then the output was a map or something in hard copy naturally grown over the years. Now, it has become more mainstream. You have Google Earth, Foursquare, Yelp, and other social media that leverage geospatial- and location-based technologies. Everyone has a smartphone. You have all of these technologies at your fingertips. Although they are not really considered GIS, they all have a geospatial component, a location-based component. This is really where things have evolved through the years. Today, does everyone know they are using geospatial information? Probably not. But, that is probably a good thing.
CEOCFO: You recently announced you are going to be leading Gannett Fleming’s Collaborative Research and Innovation Center, CRIC. What is the goal at CRIC and what is on the agenda?
Mr. Wesdock: CRIC, The Collaborative Research and Innovation Center, was a concept established back in 2008 by Gannett Fleming. It is kind of unique, especially among engineering firms, to have a group dedicated to promoting and funding innovative ideas within a company. One of the first CRIC endeavors initially funded by Gannett Fleming was a project that came out of my group called Fishidy.com - a social media and geospatial platform for anglers that could be expanded for hunters and outdoorsmen. We took Fishidy from basically being a good idea, all the way through incubation, to the point now, in the next month, where we are going to close on venture financing and split Fishidy off into its own company run separately from Gannett Fleming. This is a real success story that we can share through that process.
CEOCFO: Your site as well as your Facebook page shows a lot of community involvement. Is that from the top down? How do you foster that culture of community service in the company?
Mr. Wesdock: Yes, and I think it is engrained as part of our culture. Each of us has a community and professional service goal as part of our annual performance goals. But beyond that, there is a palpable sense of community spirit in our company as a whole. Gannett Fleming has been in business for nearly 100 years. GeoDecisions has been in business for going on 28 years. From day one we have always had a process where we give back to the community and give back to our profession. Therefore, community involvement is really not a top-down initiative but more of a cultural mindset.
CEOCFO: How do you decide where to place your efforts?
Mr. Wesdock: Each person does that. From a community perspective, I have two young boys with whom I am very involved as a Boy Scouts leader and soccer coach. I also sit on the advisory board for the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. From a professional perspective, nearly all of us are involved in professional organizations, where we serve on committees and boards. We feel it is very important that we give back to our community and to our profession.
CEOCFO: What do you look for in your staff? What are the characteristics and the intangibles that are important for you personally?
Mr. Wesdock: That is the key: the intangibles. We hire smart people. That is a given. Most companies hire smart people. However, the intangible qualities are really what we look for that set us apart. We look for people that are independent thinkers, resourceful and flexible, and fit well with our clients. They are able to go to our clients and listen and translate their needs into what really needs to be done to make the client successful. This is important to me and what really distinguishes us as a whole.
CEOCFO: When you are hiring someone how do you know that they have the right stuff?
Mr. Wesdock: It is tough. However, we have developed an interviewing process through the past five years or so that has helped, especially as the economy has turned a little bit and we have many more people applying for jobs. We are able to look deeper than their resume and ask those probing questions to kind of reach around and develop a 360 degree view of that person, that candidate, to see if they fit well in our culture. Most of the time, we are pretty good at it. I think we have increased our ability to target the right people.
CEOCFO: GeoDecisions is a service provider, but you also have several technology product solutions. What do you develop from scratch? How hands on are you with the technology? How does it all balance out?
Mr. Wesdock: We are generally a solutions company, but we’d like to grow our product revenue. About 90 percent of our revenue is derived from solutions. The remaining 10 percent of our revenue is products that drive our solutions as well. We do the traditional projects where clients ask us to come in and examine their process and requirements and then execute the work. We also sell products that help our clients succeed. In this scenario, we are able to build on those with additional revenue from supporting those products and expanding those products as well.
CEOCFO: You have won a number of awards over your career. What stands out for you?
Mr. Wesdock: There are two. The Defense Logistics Award from a few years ago stands out in particular. This one is special because it is about our clients and about serving the war fighters- something useful that helps them do their jobs better. Our IRRIS program won that award. The second one was the Application Development Trends Innovator Award. That one, again, was not for an application or a project, but it was about our team and the software development lifecycle process that we used, how it has improved our efficiency, and how it helped to serve our clients better.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us a little bit about the competitive landscape? Why does GeoDecisions stand out?
Mr. Wesdock: The competition in the GIS industry is pretty tough. There are lots and lots of firms out there. There is not really one major player, outside of Esri®, who stands out as the big software provider. There are hundreds of small- to medium-sized consulting firms, of which we are one, that compete for services work and that build applications on top of the Esri platform and other platforms. However, what really sets us apart is our motto- to be our clients’ trusted advisor. We live that every day. We view our success as our customer’s success. Therefore, if they are successful, we are successful. Having that motto and having that mantra that we help our clients distinguishes us from everyone else. They are always number one in our view, and we try to serve them the best that we can.
CEOCFO: When you are speaking with a potential client do they understand that philosophy? Is there a moment when they realize that you are really on their side?
Mr. Wesdock: In most cases, yes, because in most projects and in most implementations of what we do, whether it is selling a product and installing it, or doing a system integration, or building upon their current GIS systems, clients realize that at some point. Usually, there are multiple stakeholders in the project and we are able to come in and get those stakeholders to work together and be on the same page. I think anyone who internally might not have the same view sees the light in the end. That is one of the talents and one of the capabilities we can bring to our clients- get them on the same page and to get them to be successful.
CEOCFO: What is your day to day focus as president of GeoDecisions?
Mr. Wesdock: That is a good question. Through the years, being a technical person, it has been a challenging evolution to being someone who is in management. Years ago, I would sit down and have a task at hand or a problem to solve and I could occupy my day and it would go by in a flash. It still goes by in a flash today, but it is different. My role really is to make things happen internally, as well as to help our clients succeed and to get their message across to their stakeholders. For example, being able to facilitate a project or to provide a project plan for an innovative idea- those are the things that I really do all day. It is really interacting with our staff, interacting with our management, and interacting with our clients, to help them put it all together. I really see myself as a catalyst more than anything.
CEOCFO: We talked a little bit about your upcoming strategy, but what is your five-year vision? What is the long term goal for GeoDecisions?
Five years, in the
technology world, is a pretty long time and things can change drastically.
Five years ago the iPhone had just been released. So, when you talk five
years, I think in terms of the bigger picture- how we really want to shape
the company. I want to continue our success at being our clients’ trusted
advisor. That is the hallmark of what we do and how we maintain success. I
want to have happy and challenged employees. I want to have people who want
to work here because it is fun and they like being here and they like the
staff and they are challenged by cool projects. I want to diversify our
revenue streams as well. We have done a pretty good job of that through the
past five years, but I think we need to continue that in order for the
health of the company. I also want to diversify our geographic reach. Right
now, although we have done projects in many parts of the world, our main
success has been in the Middle East. We need to grow globally, whether in
Southeast Asia or South America and expand our current geographic reach.
Enterprise Geographic Information Systems, GeoDecisions, Technology Companies, CEO Interviews 2014, Enterprise GIS and IT Solutions, geospatial technology, IRRIS® web portal, Rapid Response System, mobile maping, high speed alert system, GeoDecisions’ experienced staff of professional consultants, analysts, and developers support clients worldwide. Fundamental to the company’s award-winning approach is the integration of spatial information to empower existing systems and processes. GeoDecisions’ philosophy is based on an enterprisewide approach to the integration of diverse information technologies, data formats, and systems. We are proud to be an Esri Gold-Tier Business Partner and ISO 9001:2008 Certified. We bring the power of spatial information to the enterprise, Recent CEO Interviews, enterprise geographic information systems (GIS) and IT solutions for government, military, transportation, and private/commercial clients to make smarter, more-informed business decisions, the true power of geospatial technology lies in the integration of diverse IT platforms, data formats, and systems, for example, our IRRIS® web portal transformed the way the U.S. military manages, documents, and synchronizes the movement of global surface cargo transportation, we also are integrating GIS with building information modeling and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems to enhance 3D visualization of assets and work orders, GeoDecisions’ Rapid Response System™ is a mobile mapping-friendly high-speed alert system designed to deliver more than 120,000 phone, email, or text messages per hour to utilities, businesses, municipalities, communities, and schools, GeoDecisions Press Releases, News, geodecisions linkedin, flickr, blog
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