Depending on what report you read, and on what day, the economy is still recovering, albeit slowly and sporadically. Still, there is a general sense of frustration that no one knows when sustained growth will occur.

We’ve been really busy the last few weeks, but we don’t know how long it will last,” remarked one surveyor at a recent conference I attended. Another surveyor said the economic uncertainty is causing many clients to postpone projects until they are certain of financing, and then they want to move ahead quickly to limit their exposure to risk. It’s a challenging situation for even the best-run businesses in the surveying and mapping professions.

But not everyone is struggling. In fact, some professionals are thriving in the current economic environment. What’s their secret?

Certainly a combination of factors is involved, including their business and marketing expertise, their level of decision-making ability within their firm, and the extent of their professional network. But all of the successful individuals I’ve talked to over the last few months--and, indeed, the last few years--have one thing in common: They enjoy learning about new technology and have determined to use it to their advantage.

Whether it’s laser scanning equipment, imaging systems, 3D modeling software, the latest total stations, GIS tools or something else, each new development generates a “cool factor” that makes these individuals want to know more, even if it’s not a technology they’re ready to invest in themselves. They hunger for knowledge and glean valuable insights from a network of dealers and colleagues. They attend conferences and do their own research to explore new ideas. And they never stop pushing the limit of what’s possible. “I’m fascinated by every new development,” said one successful young surveyor. “But that’s just the way I am. Even when I’m 90, I’ll still be looking around the corner to see what’s coming up next.”

It’s an enviable attitude in an era where technology is changing so rapidly it can be difficult for anyone to keep up, much less anticipate future developments. Fortunately, it’s one we can all take to heart. By keeping our “cool,” we can do more than merely adapt--we can help shape our future.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the 2011 Geomatics Innovation Awards contest by July 15 to share your story! For details and entry forms visit

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