Joe Francica (JF): There seems to be a war on in the Demographic
Data business.Companies are wrestling with their identity.Is ESRI BIS
a data company or a solutions company?
David Huffman (DH): I do not believe that there is a war in the industry.At ESRI Business Information Solutions (BIS), we are not struggling with who we are. As a division of ESRI, we are a corporate team with a legacy of producing quality demographic estimates, projections and segmentation data (ACORNTM) for over 35 years as CACI Marketing Systems and now as ESRI Business Information Solutions.ESRI BIS demographers and statisticians spend 100% of their time on validating the quality and integrity of our data.Since the acquisition in early 2002, ESRI BIS has been infused with technology from ESRI and their business partners (1,500 worldwide). This is just the beginning.With these alliances, we can focus on providing the best solutions in the industry.As a result, you have ESRI BIS data, combined with ESRI technology and years of application experience.ESRI BIS is in a unique and enviable position in the industry.We can provide meaningful, business-oriented solutions that provide an immediate return on investment for our customers with products and services found under one roof.
JF: As such, how will ESRI BIS look to deliver products to meet customer demand? Will you look for online delivery of data products to expedite customer needs or will you look to develop more personal relationships to deliver customer data solutions?
DH: Relationships are key.No business can survive long without strong, lasting relationships.ESRI BIS is focused on building relationships. Thus, our technology plan involves developing scalable solutions for our clients/prospects.We have the technology and data to work with an enterprise of any size.Smaller businesses that are not quite ready to make significant investments can grow with us, and us with them, into broader ranges of services.We believe that a successful technology vision includes developing in multiple formats on multiple platforms.As a result, our products will expand in several areas.Here are just some of the ways that clients can access our data and use our technology.
- Sourcebooks and SourcebookAmericaTM with ArcReaderTM- hard copy books and a CD version for viewing and analyzing demographic, consumer expenditure and business data.
- Call-in reports, data, mapping and analytical services - customers can buy "over-the-counter" from ESRI BIS.
- Online - with the redesign and re-launch of http://www.esribis.com, clients can find a host of reporting, mapping and analytical services on our Web site with industry application services coming soon. Clients can use these services on a "pay-as-you-go" basis or with flexible subscription plans.
- Desktop systems - whether it's site analysis, simple mapping, geocoding and customer profiling, modeling, media planning or merchandising, we have systems that answer our clients' needs.
- Enterprise Solutions - by combining our data with desktop and Web applications, we can serve the needs of the entire enterprise.
JF: How will ESRI BIS look to compete for market share? Will you be developing a reseller channel or a direct sales force?
DH: Our business plan reflects both the need for an indirect channel and a direct sales force.The ESRI Business Partner Program has over 1,500 partners worldwide.This channel can sell our products and will continue to grow.Potential partners approach us almost daily to resell our technology and/or our data.We also have a very strong sales team that will also continue to grow.We are focused on solutions selling, customer support and customer service.
JF: How do you position ESRI BIS with respect to Claritas or AGS? What strengths do you see that you have either with products or with international reach?
DH: ESRI BIS provides the total package.We own (acquire, develop
and build) our data and we own most of our technology.We are competitive
in the marketplace on price and on service.Unlike the companies you have
mentioned, we are the only one of the three with the backing of an exceptionally
profitable, customer-focused technology company that will lend its vast
resources to the development of business solutions. With this significant
technology investment from ESRI, ESRI BIS can take our data and wrap them
in solutions that let our clients make better, more profitable decisions.
No other company in the industry has the data and the backing of a world
leader in spatial technology.ESRI spends a significant amount of its revenue
on R&D and ESRI BIS is well positioned to take advantage of this investment.
JF: I understand that you will now manage the ArcView Business Analyst product line.What do you look to do with this product? What functions/features can we expect to see in the future?
DH: You've heard the real estate catch phrase "location, location, location." ArcView Business Analyst will be about "innovation, innovation, innovation." This product is already one of the most powerful and analytic tools on the market.It not only provides the world's best mapping, but it has many wizard-driven applications built right into the solution.These applications go far beyond simple report and map generation into sophisticated tools for demographic analysis, customer and area profiling, modeling and list selection and generation.ArcView Business Analyst serves an entire enterprise by providing out-of-the-box real estate, marketing, advertising and merchandising tools and data.Some functions and features to anticipate in the coming months include:
- Complete integration with ESRI's ArcGIS 8.x and soon, 9.x technologies.
- This core technology allows clients to access immense amounts of compressed data directly, analyze and examine their own information or access data remotely through a series of Web services.This blend of approaches is extremely exciting and unrivaled in our industry.
- More robust customer profiling capabilities by embedding our ESRI BIS Coder technology and our soon-to-be-released redesigned ACORN segmentation system.
- Integration with ESRI's ArcWeb Services that will allow a client to access thousands of partner organizations' data/applications available on the Web through a portal type of environment.
- Seamless integration with our Web site - http://www.esribis.com - to allow Web access to other data and data services.For example, clients can add aerial imagery, reports and additional data with direct links to our Web site.
- Soon, we will introduce a new "object modeler" application that will allow clients to create sophisticated batch processes or models.These models can be created to predict store sales, optimize a network of bank locations, predict customer behavior - the possibilities are limitless.We are really excited about this new solution that will empower our clients with a new set of tools to analyze and examine their own data and it will also be a "delivery mechanism" for our new analytical services.
- We will also add application-specific tools that will solve a specific department's need within an organization or solve a vertical industry's need.
- Expanded Virtual Campus courses where users can learn feature/function plus applications online at their own pace.
- We have also greatly improved the user experience with ArcView Business Analyst.We understand that not all who use this application are GIS professionals.
JF: Will you begin to offer services to help companies to more effectively utilize ArcView Business Analyst or offer consulting to companies in retail, banking, insurance, etc.
DH: We've done this since Day-Two after the acquisition!
We focus on one-to-one communication and helping our clients with their
business-related issues.We have a wide variety of clients in all industries.
For example, during the past year, we worked with retail clients to develop
new franchise territories, we assisted non-profits with member recruiting;
and we worked with banks looking at acquisition targets.We also wrote
site evaluation models, developed site-scoring programs, developed dealer
networks and processed thousands of customer records.We recently created
an Analytical Services Group that will focus on custom segmentation application
and modeling.ESRI already has industry groups targeting the industries
you mentioned and several others such as media, utilities and education.
Each of these ESRI industry marketing and sales teams are integrating ESRI
BIS services into their practices.
7.How do you look at Microsoft's position in the marketplace? They have both the money and staff to compete in the desktop GIS market.They have secured demographic data contracts from your competitors and look to impose a threat to ESRI BIS? How would you characterize this situation?
DH: We do not see Microsoft as a real threat to our business.
They are and will be a player in the industry. Like ESRI and ESRI
BIS, they provide business productivity tools and solutions.Microsoft
is a strategic partner of ESRI's and we will work together to ensure that
our tools can co-exist.
JF: In my interview with Jack Dangermond during last summer's User's Conference, he indicated that one of his reasons for purchasing CACI was to deliver data to ESRI's traditional customers in government.Have you seen an increase in sales in this market during the last six months?
DH: Boy, does time fly when you're having fun.In 2002, we worked to integrate the two companies.We spent the year getting acquainted and educating each other on our product and service offerings.Collaboration has been our theme and we have succeeded. I'm happy to say that we just released our latest data product targeted directly to ESRI and ESRI BIS' traditional markets.This product is called CommunityInfoTM, which is a specialized set of data bundles (census, demographic estimates, projections, consumer expenditure and business data) targeted to the following industries:
- Economic Development
- Homeland Security
JF: Do you believe that there will be a consolidation in the demographic data market and which companies do you think will remain?
DH: Past trends are not always the best map to the future.Competition
is the best environment for the consumer and the industry.I expect industry
leaders to be companies that produce the highest quality data with the
best possible solution measured by real return on investment.ESRI BIS
will be one of those companies.
JF: Where do you see ESRI BIS one year from now in terms of new products and position in the marketplace?
That's an easy question.I see us at the top.We have been and will continue to lead the industry with innovation.As a division of ESRI, we have access to a tremendous database of potential clients. More so now than ever before, ESRI BIS will continue to introduce new products based on revolutionary methodologies that will be incorporated into our scalable solutions.We'll focus on automating our clients' manual business processes to save them both time and money.We will also provide geographically intelligent tools that seamlessly integrate into other business applications such as accounting, ERP and CRM applications to provide a total solution. Specifically, ESRI BIS will answer our clients' needs with the following:
- Two releases of ArcView Business Analyst - Version 2.0 will be released shortly with 03/08 updates, soon after, ArcView Business Analyst 8 will be released on the ArcGIS 8.3 platform
- More robust, industry vertical offerings on the Web and on the desktop
- Complete integration of our Web and desktop products
- Release of our redesigned segmentation product ACORN
- Much more focus on analytical services.
Biography - David Huffman
David Huffman is the Managing Director for ESRI Business Information Solutions, a leading provider of geodemographic and target marketing information.Mr.Huffman has over 14 years of experience in the marketing information industry working for CACI International Inc, National Decision Systems, Urban Decision Systems and National Research Bureau.
Mr.Huffman has held positions in each of these organizations that include senior systems analyst, product manager, production manager, director of PC products and various sales positions.
Through his technical expertise and application knowledge, Mr.Huffman has provided database marketing solutions for companies that include AT&T, Ben & Jerry's, Hair Cuttery, Gerber, Ernst & Young, Kroger, TV Guide and The Association of Handicapped Artists.
Application areas of expertise include site selection, site success modeling, direct mail, response modeling, sales forecasting, market penetration and optimization, encroachment, category management and customer profiling and segmentation.