GoldSim lets users peek at the future

Who: GoldSim Technology Group, a decision-making software company established in February 2004 by three engineers: Ian Miller, Rick Kossik and Stefan Knopf.

Crystal ball: The GoldSim software's "purpose is to help people see into the future a little more clearly, and that means it has to deal with uncertainty," said Miller, the president. Users enter information on a business initiative or research project into a "visual spreadsheet" and then tell the software about various uncertainties such as future financial market conditions, global warming or the likelihood of a rocket booster exploding.

Doing the thinking: The software projects what's going to happen. "You basically are using a more sophisticated mathematics [in the software] to answer practical questions about what's likely to happen if we do this or if we do that," Miller said.

How does it know? It doesn't. The user supplies the software with the likelihood of a given event. "It takes your knowledge and tells you what the implications are," Miller said.

Variables: The Department of Energy, the largest client, has a model with about 30,000 components, and a huge computer system running it. That's the extreme end of the scale. A desktop running Microsoft Windows has enough power to handle the program as it's used by most customers.

Customers: Golder Associates, the international environmental-consulting firm, is a big one. That's also where the founders got together and began developing the software. GoldSim says about 125 organizations and hundreds more individuals in 30 countries are using the software. The companies are in industries including mining, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

The price tag: The software, sold on a licensing model, starts at $3,950.

Profitable? Yes, with revenues growing around 25 percent annually.

— Benjamin J. Romano