Thus far, our Reseller Spotlight series has taken us from Northern Europe to South America. This month, we shift our focus to the African Continent as we hear from Renier Balt from South Africa-based SMC Synergy. Widely regarded as a challenging market to penetrate, Africa has seen a significant expansion in the use of Global Mapper over recent years thanks in no short measure to the efforts and endeavor of Renier and his partner, Dirk Pretorius. We convinced Renier to take a short break from his Global Mapper outreach efforts to share some insights into his experience working with Blue Marble.
Tell us a little bit about your company, SMC Synergy?
SMC Synergy based in South Africa, was accepted as a Reseller of Blue Marble Geographics in May 2013 and is the preferred distributor of Global Mapper GIS software in Africa. Our experience in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing applications in all sectors (such as Agriculture, Environment and Mining) spans more than 30 years.
SMC provides Global Mapper training, accredited by Blue Marble and the South African Geomatics Council (SAGC), and provides maintenance and support for specific requests and requirements.
Global Mapper is the preferred GIS software for SMC as well as many other organisations. The reasons are ease of use, affordability, excellent mapping tools, links to online data, many import and export formats, the availability of the LiDAR module, the release of Global Mapper Mobile and the excellent support from the Blue Marble staff.
Being a reseller of Global Mapper software enables SMC to establish strong relationships with clients, both locally and globally, and integrate the products, services and expertise of this excellent GIS software into our whole product and service offering.
How long has the company been in business?
SMC has been in business since 2002 starting with GIS consulting and focusing on mineral exploration. South Africa is a mineral rich environment, which provides many opportunities in this field.
What are your target markets?
We target many markets including:
- Agricultural Development (Land capability assessments and farm land use planning projects in South Africa and Nigeria)
- Environmental monitoring and evaluation including various environmental monitoring projects for the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa
- Mining and exploration including diamond exploration
- Civil engineering projects
- Infrastructure development
- Academia including various projects with the North West University (NWU) and University of the Free State in South Africa
- And many more…
What geographic area do you cover?
See map below – Expanding our footprint into Africa has been an important objective, and it grows continuously. Providing complete product support and service to clients is key. Clients need training and we have found the webinars and online tools available from Blue Marble are excellent for this purpose. Usually our African clients also need public or customised training to complement this. Training therefore is a key component of our marketing strategy to expand the Global Mapper footprint in Africa.
How long have you been reselling Global Mapper?
SMC was officially appointed as reseller in 2013. Prior to that we were long-time users of Global Mapper and have been using and recommending the software since version 8.
Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?
The combination of functionality and price – the catch phrase then was “Your GIS Swiss Army Knife”, and it lived up to the promise. Being able to create print quality maps within a day of first contact with Global Mapper software speaks volumes of the intuitive and user friendly interface.
There are many other key features: 3D visualisation has been impressive and unique and the continued improvement and updating of this functionality ensures this remains a key product differentiator.
What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?
It is impossible to choose, but we can highlight the 3D functionalities and analyses available, and most are nowadays available with one click icons.
The ability to easily access Web Map Services and datasets from many sources globally was a reason why we found Global Mapper an attractive option – and the options keep growing steadily for free or affordable data.
Then the LiDAR Module grew in stature and functionality; the recently added Pixel to Point option is, in our view, a game changer.
With the recently improved attribute search functionalities none of the alternative GIS platforms can compete at this price point.
Add to this Global Mapper Mobile available on both IOS and Android devices, and the Global Mapper platform provides a full suite of tools that fits the pocket of our target market segment.
By using the software in practice in our many projects, we have made many recommendations to the developers of Global Mapper and have been impressed with the responsiveness. Many of our proposals for improvement are now available in the software. Kudos to Blue Marble and the developers.
Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide? Training etc?
Our focus, in addition to Reselling Global Mapper, is GIS consulting. The Global Mapper software remains our primary communication and implementation tool.
Training is key for providing a complete product and service for our clients. We are able to support clients in French speaking countries, which helps to expand our footprint for the whole of Africa. Countries in West and North Africa are responding well to our ability to service them in their language of choice.
Our expertise extends to data and we know where Satellite imagery can be sourced, while considering its timeliness, availability and cost implications. We can therefore support clients to make decisions how and where to get affordable and fresh data for their applications.
With the advent and growth of available Drone imagery and LiDAR data, we are able to advise clients about these new technologies, both for visionary and creative applications as well as supporting mainstream clients.
How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?
Global Mapper is an important focal point of most of our business activities:
- It complements most of our projects.
- It links with our spatial database applications (Intermon – the NRM Intervention and Monitoring System) which makes use of cloud based database applications to support the Natural Resource Monitoring Program of the Department of Environmental Affairs. (http://www.intermon.co.za/ for more information).
- Capacity building and training of interns is a crucial activity. Exposing the next generation of GIS experts to Global Mapper is the most affordable GIS training option available. We also support post-graduate initiatives at the Northwest University and other academic institutions.
How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?
Global Mapper, through our reselling efforts, must become the GIS software of choice in all African countries. We want to increase sales and support to all African countries with a 100% footprint on the continent. We aim to present training courses on Global Mapper in the major cities on the continent and to promote the visibility of this GIS software to all of Africa.