With all of the exciting developments in our technologies division in recent times, we thought it would be interesting to share how and why a mining consultancy became involved in the software field. Craig Morley (Snowden’s CEO from 2008 – 2013) joined Snowden in 1997 and was one of the driving forces behind Snowden Technologies. We reached out to him recently to provide some history behind Snowden’s focus on software development and innovation. Read on …
Snowden’s first move into software was initiated in the early 90’s through a joint venture started by Viv Snowden with the CSIRO to develop variography software. This was very successful because there was nothing else in the market for geostatisiticians at that time. Snowden employed a Software Developer in 1997 to work full time on the software and commercialise it – this was the product that became Visor.
Creating a new business
I also joined Snowden in 1997 and via a number of clients I was working with, identified a need for improved management of geological data and reconciliation systems. In late 1999/early 2000, WMC went to tender to outsource the management of its geological data. I went to our software developer and suggested between the two of us, we could win and do the work. Phil Snowden backed us, we registered the new company “Snowden Technologies” (it was after all the dot com boom) and as they say, the rest is history. We won the WMC contract to manage their data for three years and went on to win similar contracts with BHPBIO, BHPB Coal (BMA), Anglo American Exploration in Canada and Australia, as well as a number of other smaller companies.
The Value Proposition
There was definitely the need for geological/mining expertise in the mining software space which was how we differentiated ourselves and blew the traditional competition away. Our mantra was to integrate mining specialists from the consulting business with career software professionals. We also rode the new web phenomenon by betting on web interfaces. In a bold move, we bet on Microsoft and, unlike many other vendors at the time who were focused on Oracle, we only offered SQL Server back-ends because of the strong integration with the web and all other Microsoft technologies on our clients PCs. Also the Microsoft Partner program was the best in the industry for a young developing company.
A Niche in Reconciliation
Reconciliation was one of those areas that no software vendors had experience. Newcrest went to the market with a tender for a production management system so we put in two bids – one conforming and one telling them what they really wanted was a reconciliation system. Again, we were successful and we partnered with Newcrest to build the first version of Reconcilor. We focused on the major mining companies in the early days and went on to put Reconcilor into BHPBIO, BMA, Anglo American at Sishen and a number of Rio Tinto sites (Lihir & Diavik)
A New Beginning
John Hearne, Snowden’s current CEO, acknowledges this rich history and is pleased to be part of its successful evolution into a new era. “Through our enduring partnership with Microsoft, Snowden Technologies has now developed a leading-edge, cloud based software platform set to revolutionise the way mining companies extract value from their software. It’s an exciting time for us at Snowden, and one that will consolidate our position as innovators in the industry. It will also continue to clearly differentiate us from our competitors.”
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