GIS Finally Making Cents: Growth Companies Tap the Enterprise Power of GRID Systems

By Stephen Webster

Executives at leading U.S.retail, real estate, franchise, distribution, manufacturing and insurance companies are already successfully deploying enterprise-wide solutions that we at Tactician call Geographic Resource and Investment Decision (GRID) systems.

GRID systems are designed to maximize the return on investment from decisions made about locations, people and media. They accomplish this by automating and integrating real-world business processes, seamlessly connecting an organization's strategy and assets while providing the ability to execute customer marketing programs that deliver desired business results.

Despite the posturing of some key vendors and trade organizations, including the September 2004 repositioning of the Open Geospatial Consortium, the ground truth of most geo-marketing technology today is that most corporations are struggling with a patchwork of systems. The complexity of multiple systems that cannot communicate without software "work-arounds" means that time to market or decision-making is often slowed or impaired.The drain on resources to manage multiple systems also compromises an organization's focus and ability to deliver value to their customers.

By working closely with its customers, Tactician Corporation has long been aware of what it takes for geo-marketing technologies to gain acceptance as core business tools in enterprise IT infrastructures.To address the needs of executives, sales, marketing and GIS professionals, Tactician completely re-engineered its core analytic engine and mapping technology in the late 1990s.The resulting core technology platform, called Tactician® One, supports a suite of interoperable desktop and Internet applications that can be used to build customized GRID systems.

A GRID system can be built in three steps. First, the required open architecture GRID platform technology, such as Tactician One, must be implemented within an organization.This platform is capable of integrating analytics, reporting and marketing execution in both desktop and web applications.Second, GRID system customization is incorporated with data, technology and people inputs specific to the organization's business goals.Data inputs, for example, might include demographic or customer behavior data, internal sales data, proprietary data and analytic models. Technology inputs would include the integration of the GRID platform within an enterprise IT infrastructure, plus integration with any existing third-party software investments.People inputs would leverage sales, marketing, customer service and consulting expertise that might exist within an organization.The third and final step incorporates process inputs such as solution design, development of program campaigns, collateral and customer segmentation and success metrics to complete the development of a customized GRID system.

An example of one of Tactician's GRID solutions includes the seamless integration of strategic business applications for market management and market optimization with Internet-based tools for executing geographically targeted and customer segmented direct marketing campaigns.

The business value of a GRID system can be found in the superior delivery of retail analytics, performance modeling, data integration, data visualization and marketing program execution. Powerful analytics and business insights delivered through our core technology platform enable senior executives to not only analyze and visualize the success of their business strategies in real-time but to also make real-time adjustments to maximize ROI.In this way, GRID systems allow for business collaboration that connects strategy and organization with customers.

We know that GRID systems work because they are already proving themselves in the market.

  • Avon, one of the world's leading direct sellers of beauty and related products, is using a tightly integrated desktop and online GRID system for sales opportunity identification, market penetration management, sales planning and territory re-alignment.This company is now not just the largest direct seller of beauty products but also one of the fastest growing.Click here to read the case study.
  • OSRAM SYLVANIA, the second largest lighting and materials enterprise in the world, is using a GRID system to optimize the sales effectiveness for its 3,300 distributors in the U.S.In addition to driving leads and sales for distributors, this system received the 2004 TED Magazine award for Direct Promotion.Click here to read the case study.
The truth is, while some traditional GIS vendors continue to make noise about interoperability and tinker with "enterprise" positioning, the business world is already forging ahead. Our customers certainly are, and thanks to their input and collaboration we have already re-engineered our core technology with enterprise applications in mind. That's why, as far back as the November 2003 issue of this magazine, contributing reporter Hal Reid wrote the following after attending one of our annual customer forums: "Tactician may be further into the concept of enterprise-wide business GIS than anyone else."

Published Sunday, November 21st, 2004

Written by Stephen Webster

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