A Brief Look Inside MapInfo

By Joe Francica

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting MapInfo's corporate offices recently and spoke with both executives and partners of the company.After some difficult times over the past few years, it was clear that things are much better given the upswing in sales and a clearer vision of where the company is headed.

Chief visionary of the company is CEO Mark Cattini, a person with energy and focus, which has led MapInfo through an uncertain financial period to one of greater stability and potential growth.Cattini, in his address to partners, pointed out that MapInfo was the largest "pure" location technology and mapping company in the world.

MapInfo has now structured its operations into three distinct areas:

  1. Location-based Intelligence
  2. Predictive Analytics
  3. Location-based Services

Each area within the company has been supported by a "3-prong" strategy:

  • Partnership
  • Acquisition
  • Product development
...and in that order.

The Location-based Intelligence side of the company now counts Business Objects as a partner.According to a recent press release, "MapInfo's MapXtreme® mapping technology has been integrated with Business Objects™ InfoView, a business intelligence portal that collects and consolidates a company's BI information and presents it in a secure, focused and personalized view to users inside and outside an organization." I see this as a significant development because we, at Directions Magazine, also believe that the direction of location technology within the enterprise will be supported by enterprise applications that use "location" as a supporting element in the overall analytical process.

Predictive Analytics is supported by the acquisition of Thompson Associates, which is still in the process of folding itself into the parent company. Cattini noted that this acquisition has yielded tremendous result for the company in terms of large contracts and intends to be competitive in all market segments for site selection and market analysis.

Location-based Services continues to make headway into the telecommunications sector, even after the devastating blow the industry has faced over the last few years.In another recent announcement, the company stated that it had signed an OEM agreement with Siemen's Information and Communication Mobile Group (IC Mobile).According to the announcement, "MapInfo's miAware(tm) "GeoToolBox," which provides functionality such as mapping, routing and geocoding, within its Location Enabling Server, Siemen's industry-leading solution for the delivery of location-based services."

Not at all lost in the shuffle are MapInfo's partners.Currently, this group of well-qualified consultants and geospatial professionals comprises 40% of MapInfo's revenue.Over the course of many years of watching companies create and then lay waste to their partners, this group is relatively happy with their relationship with MapInfo.Is there underlying conflict? There will always be situations where the company and partners seem to "but heads." It is to the advantage of both sides to make this relationship work.The partners want access to the larger accounts but will many times require the technical support of marketing muscle of the parent company.The common ground is making customers appreciate sound technology and excellent service. The most promising aspect of the partner program is MapInfo's focus on local government.They have established a "premier" level partner program to encourage partners to pursue this market by giving additional margin on products and services.It is a market where MapInfo has not traditionally pursued business but one where historically, and somewhat by chance; they have a large installed base of customers.

Between OEM agreements with Siemens and others such as Manugistics, strategic enterprise agreements with companies like Siebel and Oracle, and their newly established programs to encourage partners to pursue specific niche markets, Cattini appears to have set the company on firm ground for future advancement, where he anticipates growth somewhere above 15% for the next fiscal year.

Published Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

Written by Joe Francica

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