2021 has been an interesting year. We started the year optimistically thinking we were coming out to a new norm and the COVID experience was nearly over, but it’s probably been harder. We’re still working around not being able to physically engage with our global teams, meet with our customers, or attend events. Virtual events are nowhere near as effective.
acQuire is in a growth phase
It’s been a good year from a business perspective. We are still growing financially and from an organisational perspective as well. We currently have 100 staff and have 11 openings on the books to recruit. We’re back to quite large numbers, which was helped by the new product EnviroSys, and its team, coming aboard.
EnviroSys acquisition has been an amazing experience
We celebrated the one-year anniversary of the EnviroSys acquisition this month (December 2021). A lot of our focus has been on integrating the EnviroSys team into acQuire and building up our environmental solution. That’s been an amazing experience for everyone involved. It’s a small team that’s extremely passionate about the product they’ve developed and wanting it to succeed. We’ve worked with our EnviroSys team closely to put frameworks in place and a strategy to ensure we can scale growth for 2022 and beyond.
Moving into different industries
EnviroSys has also given us a lot more exposure across different industries outside of mining. It is used in government, in local council, water utilities and oil and gas. It’s given us the opportunity to look at how we diversify as a business. That’s been a great initiative for this year.
But on the whole, it’s been a crazy busy year.
You mentioned earlier that you’ve had a good year both financially and in staff increases. Given all that’s going on in the world, what do you attribute that to?
Metal prices are buoyant, so the mining industries are looking at capital expenditure. They’re investing in optimisation which is where GIM Suite comes into play. Mining companies are examining what they need to do to improve processes, optimise the utilisation of their teams, and increase confidence in the data they’re collecting. That includes improving processes across the mining value chain and the transition of handover of information. That connectivity between systems is one of our strengths. We play well with others and have a large number of partnerships across the industry with tech companies.
Geoscientific information management becomes a critical asset
Leveraging off that long-term connectivity strategy helped us grow by bringing in new customers, but also increased our brand awareness. We’ve seen an exponential growth in inquiries from our current customers wanting to look at both of our solutions — GIM Suite and EnviroSys. We’ve had triple the number of inquiries from new customers looking for GIM (geoscientific information management) solutions compared to last year at this time.
People are starting to understand the importance of GIM as a critical asset. They spend a lot of money on it; they make a lot of critical decisions from that asset and are starting to understand they need to ensure they’re putting that data in a solution that is going to give them the confidence of the decisions they’re making.
What’s your vision for 2022?
First, adopting a new normal with regards to travel, particularly from Western Australia where we’ve been heavily restricted from travelling. I look forward to having the ability to put business strategies in place, to engage with our customers and teams in person. As I mentioned, we’ve recruited quite a few new people globally in the last 12 months. I would normally have met everybody within 6-12 months of them starting with the company. In some cases, I haven’t been to regional offices for over two years now which is highly unusual.
There are quite a few large flagship events that we would normally be attending in the first quarter of each year. One being PDAC, which for us is critical because we get a lot of content material while there. We will have a booth at PDAC in 2022. At this stage, it’s a small team from our Calgary office that’ll be going. But optimistically, we’re hoping we can send a few more people.
One of the things that we take pride in at acQuire is our long-term relationships with our customers. These events are not just about focusing on bringing in new business, it’s reconnecting with our existing customer base and presenting where we’re going with our products and what we’re doing from a strategic perspective. In general, we look forward to connecting and socialising with our customers which is hard with virtual events.
What’s new with your products in 2022?
GIM Suite and EnviroSys will both have major releases. With GIM Suite, we’re continuing to move our capabilities into web and mobile. We’re improving connectivity with more tech partners. We’re looking at data management through the data layers of our technology and improving the experience for our customers.
Transitioning GIM Suite customers to a new licensing model and new release
We’re bringing in My acQuire, which is a secure, cloud-based platform to enable customers to maintain their licences more effectively. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at how to simplify the licensing model for our customers. In 2022 we’re transitioning customers to a new licensing model and onto GIM Suite 5. It’s giving our customers more flexibility and power in how they use their licensing across both components of GIM Suite.
We’re quite excited about EnviroSys because in the last 12 months we haven’t proactively marketed that product as we brought them into acQuire. We’ve been focusing on getting the business processes, the technology and the architecture aligned so it can be scaled. Historically, EnviroSys has very much been focused on the Australian region and heavily reliant on a service team to administer and manage.
We are also looking at the licensing of EnviroSys and aligning it with what we’ve done with GIM Suite 5. We’ll be giving the customer more ownership and control over how they distribute licences through a cloud environment. We’re planning quite a large marketing push for EnviroSys. Initially, the launch is going to be focusing on Australia and North America by targeting our existing GIM Suite customers. The two products already share a handful of customers across both regions and our core focus for the first half of the year is to market that opportunity to a large extent.
Growing EnviroSys support
We’re recruiting our first two people into Canada for Envirosys. We’re hoping to onboard a commercial and a technical person early this year. And we have our first technical person transitioning from our GIM Suite team to the EnviroSys team. From an organisational perspective, our acquisition strategy is now giving people the opportunity to be exposed to different audiences, to different products and also potentially different regions and domains.
We’re extending our Nova Network partnership model to include EnviroSys. We’re building our learning materials to ensure product competency by looking at accreditations and assessments similar to what we do with our GIM Suite practitioners. We’ll be doing all the same things for EnviroSys including online help through to the Knowledge Base. We have frameworks in place for our customers and also for our teams so EnviroSys is sustainable and scalable.
A new survey from EY identified environmental and social issues as the number one risk for mining and metals in 2022. They specifically mentioned water management is likely to be one of the ESG issues most scrutinised by investors in 2022. What do you make of that?
It’s about time! We are seeing that a lot; it’s information management around governance issues. Companies want to make the right decisions and report on environmental data. We are seeing that on the EnviroSys side. From the GIM Suite side, there is a bigger focus around governance. Customers for both our products want confidence in the decisions they’re making, especially in light of increased investor scrutiny as mentioned in the EY report.
If you are using information management systems the right way and you’re using large enterprise management systems like EnviroSys and GIM Suite, you can mine smarter and optimise what you’re doing. If you’re confident in your data, it follows through to your block models for the resources. Then you can optimise how you mine it — the quality and the way that you’re extracting. You can refine and improve the processes from the entire mining value chain based on the quality of information that you’re collecting. And it’s also that handover of data as well, ensuring that from a decision-making perspective, it’s not just the geoscientist. It’s how the engineers are working, it’s the metallurgists, your rehabilitation team. They’re all using that chain of custody of data across the entire mine.
So again, it all comes back to understanding your project, understanding your resource and, to do that, you need to have confidence in your fundamental data sources. Governance and compliance are extremely critical, so reporting accurately and quickly is essential instead of retrospectively trying to justify your data. It’s important not just from an environmental perspective or a social perspective but from an overall mining perspective.
We are in a generation of data. The volumes and types of data available in the geoscience space are staggering. We’ve seen over the last few years there’s a trend where people are spending a lot of money on data but they’re not using it, or they’re not using it effectively. What’s the point? That’s why acQuire is so focused on the connectedness and the interoperability of our solutions with the other technologies.
One last question before we go: how are you feeling about acQuire as you finish up your 25th year in business?
One of the benefits for acQuire is we’ve always known that we’re a good company and we do things exceptionally well. And we have that confirmation now because one of the key things about being part of Constellation is you’re benchmarked against your peers. We can see where we’re positioned. And we are a strong organisation across so many of the different facets of our business.
We are now more agile. We’re putting more product out the door than we have for a long time, we’re able to grow our teams. We are looking at different markets. We’ve just acquired our first product and we’re looking at other acquisitions. We have the foundations that allow us to grow the way we want to.
New Perth office for acQuire in 2022
We’re looking forward to moving our Perth office into new premises in the city. It will be an exciting shift having everyone in the same open-plan space, having everyone engaging, sharing knowledge and connecting, it’s going to be great. We’ll also be closer to our local customers.
Stay tuned to all the new developments from acQuire
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