MapInfo’s New Acquisition, MarkeTech

By Hal Reid

_Senior Technical Editor Hal Reid interviewed MapInfo's Bob Buckner (pictured at right), vice president of services, regarding MapInfo's acquisition of MarkeTech.

Hal Reid (HR): This latest MapInfo acquisition (MarkeTech) follows a series of acquisitions, including the Thompson Associates acquisition (which included AnySite) in January of 2003. Looking at the acquisition activities, there seems to be redundancy in terms of each company's capabilities (e.g.retail expansion, models, development strategies, etc.).Can you expand on the differences between these acquisitions and how they benefit MapInfo?

Bob Buckner (BB): An important component of MapInfo's strategy has been to enhance our domain expertise in targeted vertical markets - retail, communications, the public sector, banking and insurance.The intent is to increase our ability to provide location intelligence through solving specific vertical market problems where location is an important component.The acquisition of Thompson Associates in January 2003 gave us a group of people who understood the retail market, had a well established customer base and a strong predictive analytics offering to help retailers make better strategic real estate decisions.The acquisition of GeoBusiness Solutions in February of 2005 gave us similar skills, presence, customer base and value proposition in the UK, thus accelerating the expansion of our retail predictive analytics delivery capabilities into our second largest geographic market.

The MarkeTech Systems acquisition in June of 2005 serves a similar purpose as the GeoBusiness Solutions acquisition; but instead of accelerating our geographic expansion, the acquisition accelerates our application of location intelligent solutions into the banking industry.Like Thompson before it, MarkeTech Systems has an established customer base, a strong team with a deep understanding of the banking industry and a strong location intelligence offering.

In a similar vein, the acquisition of Southbank Systems in September 2004 provided MapInfo with local government asset management knowledge, applications and customers in the UK.In the aggregate, these acquisitions have strengthened our global presence in three of our targeted vertical markets (retail, the public sector and banking).

HR: One of the reasons that companies are acquired is to access the key people who have highly valuable expertise.This is certainly the case in the banking industry within MarkeTech.Can you provide some understanding as to how these key people will be integrated into the MapInfo organization?

BB: Our industry is driven by the knowledge and skills of its people.As noted above, our motivation for the MarkeTech Systems acquisition is to enhance our knowledge of and presence within the banking industry.Our intent is to retain the entire staff and integrate the team within the services organization.Sales, marketing, development and Predictive Analytics teams in Raleigh will work closely with their peers in Troy, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Windsor and elsewhere to share best practices and customer opportunities.The MarkeTech Systems team will become an important driver of our banking strategy and will be key influencers on the overall evolution of MapInfo's strategy and offering.

HR: Thompson and AnySite traditionally provided performance modeling services - sales forecasting, location/allocation models and product mix models to name a few.Is there going to be a central model source for MapInfo customers or is each entity going to retain its own customer base?

BB: Customers within each vertical market want to work with teams that "speak their language." As a result, there necessarily will be a segregation of clients and projects among the teams that hold specific industry knowledge.As a result, the MarkeTech Systems team will focus on providing banking solutions while the Ann Arbor team will focus on retail solutions.That being said, underlying modeling methodologies, application development approaches and process best practices will be shared among all of the teams.Additionally, individuals within each team will have the opportunity to grow and expand their knowledge base by cross-training or even transfer from team to team.

HR: A geographic question.Is MarkeTech going to remain in Raleigh or is it moving to Troy?

BB: The MarkeTech Systems team will remain in Raleigh.

HR: Thinking about possible product and services expansions for MapInfo, what other acquisitions could we anticipate in the future? Perhaps a data company?

BB: MapInfo is always looking for ways to fill strategic gaps in our offering or our geographic presence.One method for doing so is an acquisition.As such, we are constantly evaluating opportunities as they arise.However, none of these evaluations are at a point that they can be disclosed.

HR: The MarkeTech web site makes no mention of incorporating lifestyle segmentation as a tool in their modeling products and consultancy services.Is this an opportunity to apply the Thompson and AnySite resources or is this more of a data source issue rather than a MapInfo issue?

BB: There is an opportunity to enhance MarkeTech Systems' lifestyle segmentation capabilities both through applying the broader MapInfo data and services capabilities.

Published Monday, June 20th, 2005

Written by Hal Reid

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