David, Goliath leap into battle

by Staff reporter, HighGrade | Nov 21, 2012
HighGrade has reported on Orefind's recent blog post on Gemcom's "new implict modeller" called Dynamic Shells.
THE gloves are off in a now heated fight between veteran Leapfrog software user (and one-time developer) Jun Cowan, and, um, the Big Kahuna in the mining software space, GEOVIA (formerly Gemcom), owned by France’s Dassault Systemes.

Cowan has kicked more than a little sand in the face of the giant via the website of his two-man consulting band, Orefind, where the firm’s principal structural geologist and director suggests a “lot of companies are now trying to copy Leapfrog”, the 3D geological modelling software with implicit modelling engine developed and sold by New Zealand-based ARANZ Geo.

While he’s indicated he’s saving some energy for future stoushes with Maptek and Micromine (maybe others), Cowan has leapt into GEOVIA with gusto, describing the company’s new Surpac module Dynamic Shells as something of an imposter in the implicit modelling arena and its marketing spiel as, well, a tall tale.

“It appears that Gemcom has developed something that, to the uninitiated, very much resembles Leapfrog software and that seems to compete directly with Leapfrog,” Cowan says on his website. “But will Gemcom be able to unseat Leapfrog's implicit modelling standard and leadership by releasing this new product?”

That question, of course, remains to be answered by the market, but Cowan ready concedes that “from a marketing perspective Gemcom clearly has the upper hand over ARANZ, and with clever marketing, they can easily knock Leapfrog off its perch”.

Cowan said he only found out about Dynamic Shells from a “long-time Leapfrog customer and client of mine who told me that he’s already requested a trial copy of the software from Gemcom”.

“He’s excited because he’s also is a long-time Surpac user and uses Surpac much more than Leapfrog. He mistakenly thought this was a new Leapfrog product made as a plug-in for Surpac. Excellent marketing, Gemcom, if you're able to convince an occasional Leapfrog user!”


Orefind’s website claims the firm’s mission is to “make a measurable, material difference to mineral exploration and mining projects through an integrated approach of data collection, modelling, and interpretation”, and that its principals have “the most experience in the world at using Leapfrog software and we use this software to resolve critical issues in the mineral resource industry”.

“Orefind does not receive any payment in commission or finder’s fees from the makers of Leapfrog software, or any other software company.”

While curiously conceding “competition is great for users and the industry alike, so this new product from Gemcom is a welcome change for the better”, Cowan may be underestimating that other marketing cliché: any publicity is good publicity!

He takes a pot shot at claims the new software is “revolutionary”: “Some of us have been building implicit geological models with Leapfrog without a single digitised sectional polyline for 10 years now and have modelled hundreds of deposits, so Gemcom is a decade behind in waking up to this idea. Does this sudden change of attitude mean that Gemcom has finally realised that sectional digitisation is a complete waste of time and we need to convince the minerals industry to abandon the practice? Not exactly ...

“Gemcom and Surpac have spent many years improving their sectional modelling methods, so they aren’t likely to suddenly abandon this strategy because of a small plug-in.”

And at suggestions the new software does what Leapfrog does: “Whether Dynamic Shells actually works like Leapfrog is a moot point.”

Fair to say Cowan has been caught by surprise by the GEOVIA development even though he’s across developments involving other “pretend Leapfrog” products.

“It will be interesting to see how Dynamic Shells works in real-life situations and to see whether it is a real technical competitor to Leapfrog or just a clever use of techno jargon to confuse the uninformed,” Cowan writes.

“Many of my clients with Surpac will be comparing this new software with Leapfrog, and what’s most interesting is that Gemcom claims that Dynamic Shells is an implicit modelling method. I will be examining this claim in a detailed review of their product in the future.”

Shouldn’t have to wait too long, we suspect.

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