Opportunities for growth in the GNSS industry

September 3, 2018  - By
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What is the greatest threat to GNSS over the next three years? (Source: GPS World 2018 State of the GNSS Industry report)

What is the greatest threat to GNSS over the next three years? Click to enlarge. (Source: GPS World 2018 State of the GNSS Industry report)

When we designed the survey of the global PNT community for the 2018 State of the GNSS Industry report, we put a couple of new wrinkles into the online questionnaire. We wanted to know, succinctly, what you felt was the number one obstacle to growth for your organization. And, with the same brevity, what you saw as the number one opportunity for growth.

The answers most frequently given within each sector — mobile, OEM, survey, UAV, transportation, machine control, mapping and defense & government — appear on those respective pages in this issue. They weren’t the only answers, by far.

Obstacles to Growth

Other stumbling blocks that were called out included security, competitors (sometimes mentioned by name), politics (sometimes mentioned by party), budgets, funding, understanding, ignorance, management, bureaucracy, age, and that enduring favorite, time.
The most frequently cited obstacles to growth were:

  • regulation, and
  • the lack of qualified staff, personnel, engineers.

One ingenious survey-taker somehow found a way to cram 21 words into an answer box meant for only one or two. “In my industry, deep technical talent that addresses the specific issues. Without that, the ‘big picture’ judgments are often just wrong.”

This problem is not new, nor is it particular to the GNSS/PNT industry. The fact that it is with us year after year suggests that it is not getting enough effective attention. Talented engineers can be imported, yes, if the homegrown supply falls short. In the current political climate, this may not be a strategy with legs. Even given a totally benign immigration regulatory landscape, it is far from a panacea. More on this in a moment.

Growth Opportunities

Various flavors of technology integration, both multi-GNSS and non-GNSS, led the pack in nearly every sector. Other popular answers included customization, broadband, autonomous navigation, Galileo, international markets, alt-nav, Brexit, the Cloud, M-code, anti-jamming, connectivity, flexibility, more clients, and, in riposte to the aforementioned obstacle: training, education, or simply engineering.

The great American thinker Margaret Mead said, “We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.”

If your organization encounters this perennial problem, this shortage of qualified staff that stifles innovation, inhibits growth, and causes you to pass on new ventures that are just out of reach, here’s the biggest whopping opportunity of all: get involved with higher education and engineering graduate schools in your area.

The talent is there. If you’re not out actively cultivating, encouraging, training and recruiting it, those bright young engineering people will be drawn instead to Internet ventures or gaming software or other industries that sap the soul but nourish the pocket — and those are your true competitors.

About the Author:


Alan Cameron is editor-in-chief and publisher of GPS World magazine, where he has worked since 2000. He also writes the monthly GNSS Insights column for the weekly Navigate! e-newsletter.

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