It’s been about eight months since TomTom announced its ambitious goal of building the world’s smartest and most useful maps. Progress is being made, so it’s high time we got an update on how it’s all going. Willem Strijbosch, VP of Product for Maps, explains it in detail.
When TomTom announced its new platform last year, Michael Harrell, SVP Engineering at TomTom Maps, told us how the company is reimagining mapmaking to be more collaborative and more advanced, using masses of data, machine learning and AI.
He explained how the new TomTom Maps Platform and maps will galvanize TomTom’s success with current use cases while helping serve the booming and demanding industry of new location-based applications — ones that are poorly served by today’s digital mapping solutions.
TomTom’s not just making a new map, it is redesigning and rebuilding the whole structure around it.
How it sources and shares map data, how it processes data and turns it into geospatial insights, how the platform can be used by developers to build new location-based tech and how customers can add their own data and style their maps are all being rethought.
When TomTom’s new platform is released, it will open the door for more location tech use cases and set a new standard for collaborative mapmaking, blending open data with high-value, proprietary geospatial tech, to map the world in real-time.
While TomTom only announced its platform last year, it’s been years in the making.“Progress has been phenomenal,” Strijbosch says. “Moving to a new platform brings big technical risks, as any tech company will attest, and we’ve experienced that firsthand. However, we’re moving fast, and results from feasibility testing are very promising.”
“It’s special to be in a position where you’re reimagining how maps are made,” he says. “Every step we take, we see that we’re getting closer to our vision.”Even though the vision is big and bold, it’s crystal clear. That clarity is proving to be crucial in rallying and energizing the organization and employees working on it. But just because it’s clear, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Putting it bluntly, TomTom is moving from map to maps. Or in other words, it’s evolving from being designed for a few use cases to a whole world of potential applications. Strijbosch says this is, “An enormous challenge that affects all parts of mapmaking.”
“Typically, mapmakers provide access to a single proprietary map [hence the singular above] that needs to serve and work for all use cases. It’s like walking into a coffee shop and only being served espresso. It’ll work, but for a small number of people for some of the time. That’s not what customers want,” he adds. TomTom’s new Maps Platform offers more choice than that.
Indeed, during its Capital Markets Day, TomTom’s Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Schoofs said the choice and opportunity TomTom’s new map offers will greatly increase the company’s addressable market. “We will gain market share and unlock new business segments.”
“Today we play in half the market with existing segments, if you take all new segments, we get to play in more than 80% of the market,” he said.
For Strijbosch, the biggest challenge TomTom has had to overcome is designing and building the system so that it works across all these different uses cases, for many types of customers that build many types of technology.
“One customer will want routing for two-wheelers, another will want it for passenger cars. The turns these two vehicles can make are different. One customer will want to store how much electricity their EVs are using on stretches of road, by model and year — to improve range calculations and efficiency. Another customer might want a map to embed in their social media app to help users find interesting places.” One map can’t possibly work for all these uses cases.
TomTom’s new maps couldn’t come at a better time either. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion in on-demand services, EVs, public transit options, location-based social media and an increase in two-wheeled transport and commuting. But overcoming this vast array of demands from the map(s), has led TomTom to design its platform from the ground up to fulfill all current customer needs while leaving the door open to satisfy new ones.