Excel-erating to a New Level of Spatial CRM

By Joe Francica

Excel 11 does CRM...Microsoft style; MapInfo, Polk join forces
Last week, Microsoft announced two alliances for demographic and consumer lifestyle data that signaled a new level of data availability for release with Excel 11, due out in mid-2003.It also exposed Microsoft's strategy for delivering updated demographic data for its location-based applications, a sign that customer relationship management (CRM) is high on its list of target solutions.

Early in the week, Microsoft announced a deal with Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB) to deliver its National Consumer Study database via the MapPoint Data Service.The press release states, "web-connected Excel users will be able to seamlessly import Simmons data directly into Excel spreadsheet applications."

Michael Graff, General Manager of the MapPoint Business Unit at Microsoft stated, "The MapPoint Data Service is a cornerstone of Microsoft's MapPoint .NET Web Services.[See also our recent article on XML Web Services by Steve Lombardi of Microsoft]

Then later in the week, it announced that it would deploy Applied Geographic Solution's (AGS) demographic data with Excel 11 through the MapPoint Data Service as well.Taken together, the demographics and consumer data from their respective sources, provides a skeletal framework for developing basic market research and CRM applications.Will we now see a more comprehensive CRM solution from Microsoft akin to Siebel 7, a product that can now be integrated with MapInfo?

I assume we can expect the same kind of data availability for MapPoint 2000's next version.We now know that Microsoft will probably solve the dilemma of updating the demographics for the desktop product.And what does this portend for a web-based marketing application perhaps combined with its own CRM app? For sure, it must be coming.We have contacted Microsoft and its alliance partners for comment.

Not to be left on the sidelines, MapInfo signed a deal last week with R.L.Polk & Company, the preeminent source of car ownership data.The arrangement calls for Polk's New Vehicle and Vehicles In Operation (VIO) registration data to be included with TargetPro® and PSYTE® cluster system for lifestyle segmentation.Polk will be able to resell TargetPro to its Aftermarket and OEMs.This looks like an extremely powerful solution.

All of these announcements reflect a "ratcheting-up" in the competitive environment for better, "just-in-time" delivery for demographics, and location-enhanced "customer intelligence" software.More on this soon.

Published Monday, November 11th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

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