2021 Letter from PlanIT Geo’s CEO
January 13, 2021 | Written by Ian Hanou
To our dedicated team, clients, channel partners, future collaborators, and financial investors:
We hope you are safe, healthy, and have come out of 2020 relatively unscathed and ready for new beginnings. Last year, we witnessed a dramatic increase in public awareness of the value of urban forests as many businesses, restaurants, and venues were closed, city parks and open spaces provided the outlets for social distancing, exercise, and well-being we all need. At PlanIT Geo™, this only strengthened our resolve and commitment in our role as an industry leader providing software, plans, and geospatial data for urban greening initiatives and tree care around the world.
We have ambitious plans and goals, and it’s time to share them more broadly. I chose to structure this letter similar to how our team approaches the framework for urban forest strategic management plans: What do we have, What do we want, and How do we get there.
The entire team at PlanIT Geo is passionate and focused on our mission: Mapping the World’s Urban Forests for a Greener Future.
What Do We Have?
After a tumultuous Q2 where normal activities came to a sudden halt, PlanIT Geo fared well and ended 2020 with metrics above those of 2019 across the board, including gross revenue. I’m incredibly proud of our team’s resilience and solidarity; we shifted to remote work without issue, began traveling again for field work, continued to enhance our software products, and improved retention rates with our Software as a Service (SaaS) client base, a testament to our 4.9/5.0-star rated technical support and customer success team.
The entire team at PlanIT Geo is passionate and focused on our mission: Mapping the World’s Urban Forests for a Greener Future. We have 30+ experts in GIS, software development, urban forestry, tree care, finance, administration, and SaaS. We have 8 international software channel partners, 500+ government and campus clients from consulting services, and 350 software clients including 65 outside of North America. As a global brand, PlanIT Geo and the TreePlotter™ Software Suite have earned a 4.9/5.0 customer support rating across four SaaS products which provide modern, in-field data collection and work management, geospatial analysis, and business operation tools.
Partnerships, foreign and domestic, are key to our success and mission. We thank valued organizations such as CNUC, Earth Advisors, Goetra Villa Ltd. (UK), Homewood Consulting Ltd. (AU), the Texas Trees Foundation, the Keystone Concept, Urban Forest Innovations, and many others. We look forward to new and continued teaming opportunities.
Two of our five core values at PlanIT Geo are knowledge and innovation. With this at our core, we increase value to our customers by listening and delivering. Some 2020 accomplishments to demonstrate this are:
TreePlotter Software Suite:
- New tools such as the Data Field Editor and the inspection manager
- New modules the Reference Layer Importer, CAD/GIS interoperability (including BS5837 for UK clients), and CAVAT for UK tree appraisals
- Upgrades like new report formats and CTLA 10th edition Trunk Formula Technique
- New customizable inspection forms for parks, playgrounds, irrigation, and trees
- API integrations with systems like Salesforce and Esri
- The “public portal”, a way to embed modern, beautiful tree maps into your existing website (more below!).
- We now have 10 ISA certified arborists as subject matter experts (SMEs); two are ISA Municipal Specialist and four are now TRAQ Qualified.
- Our geospatial team uses machine learning to analyze urban tree canopy.
- Our experts have extensive experience in urban tree canopy analysis including our TreePlotter™ CANOPY software tool.
- We’ve adopted and applied tools to audit, research, benchmark, and perform gap analysis for strategic urban forest management and master plans.
Another positive in 2020 was the strong renewal rate of TreePlotter subscriptions. A few recurring clients (of 100’s) include the city of Burlington (Ontario, Canada), Moreland Council (Victoria, Australia), South Suburban Parks & Recreation (Colorado), Baton Rouge Green, Tree Fresno, Wachtel Tree Science, Seton Hall University, and the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.
- Government: Charlotte, Dallas, Nashville, Orlando, Tampa, London, England, the US Forest Service, and Presidio National Park
- Corporate and University Campus: University of Central Florida, New York University (NYU), Rutgers University
- Nonprofit or Other Sector: Battery Park and Governor’s Island in New York City, San Francisco Airport, and Discovery Parks (AU)
We also launched our newest product, TreePlotter JOBS, a business operations and mapping solution for tree care companies. JOBS provides client and job site management, tree inventory, estimation, scheduling, work orders, and invoicing connected directly to Quickbooks. More on JOBS below!
What Do We Want?
Since founding the company in 2012, many times I’ve thought “this is going to be our breakout year”, and in some ways, each year has achieved that. Last year we surveyed our staff and they returned a unanimous, resounding statement: “we want to GROW!” Music to my ears. In actuality, growth is a choice. PlanIT Geo chooses where, how, and when to increase market share, by product and market segment. We will make strategic hires and partnerships to expand our consulting services which provide geospatial data, tree inventories, and plans for urban greening. As Jeff Bezos said in Amazon’s 1997 letter to shareholders, “we choose to prioritize growth because we believe that scale is central to achieving the potential of our business model.”
To that end, we are committed to supporting our international channel partners and finding more subject matter experts to join our software reseller network in strategic locations. In 2020, we added clients in many new countries. TreePlotter currently has been translated into eight languages.
We will also continue to innovate with technology. Here are a few examples to share:
First, our solutions allow urban foresters, arborists, and park managers to generate quantifiable data that validates the investment in the care of trees. We’ve been working with the i-Tree Development Team to test their new API which will allow TreePlotter to calculate and monetize tree benefits using the latest algorithms in i-Tree Eco. We plan to update the “eco benefit” values for client’s data with this web service soon (we had to delay until a change to carbon sequestration and storage formulas are implemented). Look for an update next month.
Second, we continuously strive to evolve our software platform to be modern and with increasing enterprise-grade sophistication. TreePlotter JOBS is a completely new software stack built from the ground up with technologies including Node and the Vue framework. That matters to us, but of course not as much as enabling tree care businesses to grow, be more profitable and competitive, demonstrate a high degree of professionalism in the industry, and meet the needs and expectations of their customers!
Third, we feel strongly that our role is to assist clients in new ways of leveraging technology to share data on green assets and their benefits with the public. Through an exciting and visionary project with the Texas Trees Foundation, we now have the ability to embed beautiful, “inviting” tree maps into just about any website. The map, eco-benefits, and a configurable dashboard are tied to data in TreePlotter INVENTORY. This project gave us an opportunity to implement MapBox and vector tile technologies, and offer a mobile-friendly “Public Portal” with lightning-fast loading time. See the TTF Tree Tracker here for more information.
Look for more communications in the coming months about these examples and our long-term software roadmap plans.
We feel strongly that our role is to assist clients in new ways of leveraging technology to share data on green assets and their benefits with the public.
How Do We Get There?
At PlanIT Geo, our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to be the leading tree mapping and management software technology provider on all continents by 2023. Urban forestry and arboriculture are emerging markets in many countries. The ability for cities to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change through the carbon sequestration and cooling from urban tree canopy has never been more evident. We will significantly expand our contribution and role in this movement.
We know what this will require and we’ve done it before: financial investment, listening to clients, tripling down on customer success and product enhancements, and bringing on talented staff, corporate partners, and international channel resellers who share our vision. In addition, we will soon be announcing our Board of Advisors to leverage the wisdom and experience of experts at the intersection of trees, nature in cities, SaaS, finance, and geospatial technology.
To accelerate our growth, brand awareness, and service globally we are leveraging our extensive network of software users and urban forestry and arboriculture industry experts to develop informative, factual, experience-based, and innovative content. Our content-based approach is one of our pivotal company goals to be the go-to resource for information related to urban forestry and technology.
Our BIG goal is to be the leading tree mapping and management software technology provider on all continents by 2023.
We are relentless and fanatical about customer-driven innovation to foster the management of green infrastructure and awareness of the triple bottom line benefits (social, economic, and environmental) of nature-based solutions. We will continue to work hard to enable governments to spend public funds efficiently and transparently, for tree care businesses to grow and meet client needs, for consultants to provide professional services, data, and recommendations, and foundations to assist cities in engaging the public and other stakeholders. This is our promise to empower you to map, assess, inspect, maintain, share, and report on trees, park assets, and operations. As the TreePlotter Software Suite evolves, we will continue our enduring commitment to engaging you, our clients and partners, in identifying needs, in-field user experience, opportunities, and solutions.
I’ll end with one more core value, simply called “Reaction Wood”. This term describes the biological response of trees under harsh conditions to compensate with new woody growth providing support under the weight of gravity and other environmental stressors. Like reaction wood, our team is responsive, resilient, adaptive, and embraces the challenge of forces and circumstances. PlanIT Geo uses this core value to hire, fire, reward, align, and make decisions.
Words can’t describe how grateful we are to have each and every one of you giving us your business and trust, and playing a role in our growth story and mission. We wish all of you continued success in “Mapping a Greener Future” with us, and we look forward to a “breakthrough” year and achieving shared goals with you in 2021!
Happy tree plotting,
Ian and the team at PlanIT Geo
We rely on our extensive network of software users and urban forestry and arboriculture industry experts to develop and improve our urban forestry software and services. We would love to hear from you!