“Analytical” Customer Relationship Management (aCRM) - MapInfo and the CRM market

By Joe Francica

Recently, MapInfo reorganized their company to take advantage of some of the opportunities in CRM and to capitalize on their existing relationship with Siebel, the market leader in CRM.One of their first moves was to hire Kevin Antram as vice president of the aCRM group. Mr.Antram has held management positions with 180Commerce, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and J.D.Edwards.We discussed MapInfo's new strategy and the difficulties in demonstrating the benefits of "location" as part of a comprehensive CRM application with Mr.Antram and with Jon Winslow, market director for aCRM.

1.CRM is a broad term and at once encompasses field force automation (FFA), sale force automation (SFA), and supply chain management (SCM)?.How is MapInfo defining CRM in terms of location services?

It certainly is a broad term.We are focusing on the analytics of the customer experience.Traditional CRM products that people would recognize like Siebel and Pivotal, are very customer-facing applications.What is coming out of those applications is an incredible amount of data about customers and their markets.We take that information and do something with it.Another key parameter that we provide is the location piece of it.It is not addressed in most cases with many of the traditional systems.

It is fairly common to analyze the data about their customers, and one thing that bands do for example is to predict the likelihood for someone to "churn" or try to predict volume at a certain ATM location.One of the things that most analytical solutions forget is the relevance of location.So if you want to analyze all the aspects of a customers (bank) account, but if you do not take into account the distance of the customer from the bank and the number of competitive locations within .25 miles of a customers home, then you are missing a big part of the story.

2.Yes, but for years that has always been the benefit of a location-based solution or a GIS. You can do all of that outside of a typical CRM application, and you don't need Siebel 7 to do that.You can use MapInfo alone to do most of these tasks.Right now, Siebel, Pivotal, and others have stepped in to develop and deliver an analytical system without a location component.So, both MapInfo and ESRI have announced relationships with Siebel but I have not seen any goods delivered.I have not seen Siebel tout the fact that it is a location-enabled system.So, what is your strategy for getting people to buy off on location as a major benefit?

We are seeing quite a bit of activity and, in most cases, Siebel has brought us in to opportunities where location and additional analytics is required.As far as I know, we are the only location-based vendor that is actually validated by Siebel.
A lot of the opportunities are what I would call "collaborative CRM." One example is in the customer service sector, where the company sees the value of having location searches right within the customer service reps field of vision.So, if you are trying to figure out which service stations to bring a broken car to, you want to look at a variety of attributes.In terms of the analytics, we think there is still a huge opportunity for companies like MapInfo who can tap into the CRM database and bring to life new information based on analytics that take into account location.

Part of the philosophy of the aCRM business unit at MapInfo is to deliver more of a complete solution to the customer; that includes delivering data and modeling and software; and that may include an entire CRM solution.It may also include Siebel. We'll be taking some of those things to customers and I'm sure Siebel will be doing the same thing as well.

3.Is it one where we might see the integration of MapInfo products like TargetPro with Siebel Sales as a deliverable, or how do you see the relationship working?

TargetPro has been designed, in some ways, to be "product agnostic." It is designed to pull data out of just about anywhere.So, it can be optimized to be more Siebel specific; the whole idea of the product is that not everyone has Siebel.Our goal is to be able to pull information from various sources and make it usable. There is not an immediate plan to build TargetPro into any Siebel application. But TargetPro is "architected" in such a way so that it cannot only pull data from a variety of databases, but if someone wanted to embed the TargetPro functionality into other applications, that would work just fine as well. So, short term, we empower our users to access data from different locations; different database; long-term, that would sure be a neat thing to do but that's not being done as we speak.

4.Have you seen more of a pull or a push from the market in terms of wanting demographics and sales information in one place as well as to display information on a map? Is it going to be easier to be drawn into these situations from your partners or do you think there is still a great deal of marketing effort that has to be put in place before there is a recognition that location is a strategic component of the sales effort?

I think the first thing is that we are seeing more pull from Siebel.As I said, they have pulled us into a number of their accounts because there is a huge hole there from the location side.Personally, we do a lot of push marketing, but my focus is to get us more to a pull market.We are working with partners that we have not traditionally worked with that have much more clout and credibility in the market, and they are dealing with some of the large companies out there as their customers today.We can be a part of their solutions.In many cases, I would rather be a tool in the toolbag than the entire solution. A lot of these partners provide a much larger piece of the solution that I would be more than happy to be a part of.

Because of the recent change of philosophy of the business unit, we need to get more brand awareness, especially around the TargetPro side of things.So that is an area that we will be focusing on -- making the market understand what it is we actually deliver with aCRM and location-based services, that today is not there to the level that we want.

5.Would you be more focused on the sales side of CRM or something more along the lines of an "operational" CRM like helping a call center or field service management application to assist field service techs route to the correct location and be more customer responsive?

Our focus right now is looking at verticals where we think there is the most opportunity and clearly, the focus right now is on the sales and marketing; and probably marketing first.That is going to expand as our offering and packaging and bundling expands to take on more.

6.I would have termed "sales" a more horizontal application than a vertical market.Which industries will you target?

We have already expanded within the aCRM unit to finance and insurance, real estate, retail, and some consumer product good (CPG) companies as well because of the tremendous customer focus that they need to have.

7.Is there any specific future for a very targeted solution other than your existing product lines? You can piece together your existing product such as TargetPro, MapMarker and MapInfo Professional, but do you see wrapping those around another type of interface that specifically addresses other applications?

We need to have focus so we are trying to package as much as we can, and that includes services. We've built some very powerful service products as well.That will expand on the product side and we will be moving to build some of our own products and partnering, in some cases, on the front end and back end of our solution.

8.Mr.Antram, you mentioned that partnerships was a key element of your strategy and having come from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), do you see them as implementation partners?

Possibly.I've worked a lot with PwC and Deloitte and Touche, and Accenture and IBM.We may expand more with them and I see that with some of the larger opportunities.I see them as people that can recommend and provide an entire solution to some of their customers that they've had for a long time.Just off the top of my head, for example, real estate, Siebel or traditional CRM products have not been a focus area because there are certain pieces missing such as location.It may be good situation for a PwC, who have many companies as clients right now, to roll our solution in with a Pivotal.I see huge opportunities to get into these enterprise solutions with a PwC or IBM. In that case, we would not be THE solution, but part of the overall solution.

9.Can this type of a solution, coming directly from MapInfo, not from implementation partners, be delivered as a desktop application or can a solution this broad in nature be delivered as an ASP?

It can be; it can be part of an overall network solution; it can be part of a web-based solutions. There are certain aspects that tie very nicely to an ASP model.And others that because of the very specific confidentiality issues with the individual customer; in a lot of cases they are not prepared to give up that kind of information, yet because it comes down to how to go after their best customers.And they will continue to keep that in-house.

10.Is the aCRM effort one where MapInfo and its sales force will drive the solution or do you intend on using existing MapInfo partners for any part of your sales effort?

We have a three-pronged sales strategy.One will clearly be our traditional resellers or new resellers. They deliver applications that we do not.They, in some cases, go after a different market than we go after on our own.We will definitely have our sweet spot, of which we will strongly have our own sales group go after hard; because it is an area of strong competency that we understand the market, we understand the customers, we understand the solutions that we are delivering to the market.And the third one will be different partners to provide an enterprise solution when needed.We may do some of that direct but also there are other opportunities where we will work with different types of partners to go after another market as well.Clearly, our direct sales force will be directly involved with those types of opportunities.

Published Thursday, September 19th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

If you liked this article subscribe to our newsletter...stay informed on the latest geospatial technology

© 2016 Directions Media. All Rights Reserved.