Retail Modeling Down Under

By Hal Reid and Joe Francica

Dimasi Acquisition On August 24, 2005, Joe Francica and I had an hour-long telephone dialogue with Gavin Lennox re the MapInfo acquisition of Dimasi Strategic Research ( see

MapInfo LogoIn preparation, I had posed several questions about the acquisition in a standard interview format.But while those questions formed the basis of the conversation, the format quickly changed to that of a dialogue around the capabilities of Dimasi and the concepts of modeling in Australia.This dialogue provided a far different insight not just to the acquisition, but also to MapInfo Asia well.This indicates a shift in direction for MapInfo in Australia, whereDimasi Logo retail is only 5% of their total market, another 50% is government and the remaining market is composed of customers in the banking and telecommunications

Obviously, MapInfo wants to increase their presence in the retail market in Australia and Southeast Asia as well.

If you look at a map of Australia, it becomes quickly apparent that the population is concentrated on the outside, similar in a way to the population of Canada, which is concentrated along the U.S.border.In Australia, a significant amount of the retail is located in shopping centers.Along with this concentration of population, there are limited opportunities for retail expansion.In many environments where there are the dynamics of retail expansion, retail development is impacted and sometimes inhibited by government rules and regulations (see Retail in no need of therapy, from

Operating in this environment requires a thorough understanding of the econometrics of retail expansion.Dimasi has this knowledge, as well as an unique insight to the local market and the shopping center dynamics (see Decline of Department Stores? from Therefore, they can provide an evaluation of the existing retail, the economic impact as well as an estimate of performance.

This is a slightly different type of modeling from what is typical in the U.S.and requires a very solid understanding of a local market. This well documented local market understanding was a major part of the logic for the Dimasi acquisition.This expertise is incorporated into a database that contains not just the businesses, but also their characteristics, existing footprint, and other factors of each of these enterprises.This database is expansive (number of businesses) enough so that MapInfo is considering making it into a product to augment their existing Australian data products.

Dimasi has also developed the optimal consultant role with their customers which takes them deep into an organization, so that their expertise and technologies actually become part of the clients business process.This is a result of their three core business principles of expertise, service and teamwork.

A surprising thing about Dimasi was discovered when MapInfo was doing their due diligence for this acquisition.They found that on the Dimasi staff there was a Chief Economist.This person helped not only in the presentations to local government regarding the advantages, impact and various effects of retail expansion, but also in the modeling of that expansion.

Lennox mentioned that a number of international companies (operating in Australia) were outsourcing their location analytics, and with this acquisition, MapInfo was well positioned to fill that need.

MapInfo intends to develop an expertise interchange with other parts of the company, for example Thompson.Mr.Lennox identified that this was part of an overall strategy to allow them to maximize their existing assets and provide their customers global expertise in modeling and market optimization.This strategy could also let them look at new asset acquisition opportunities in other parts of Southeast Asia.

It appears that there is a grand scheme working here.International data, local and global market expertise, local and global modeling and of course, there are always the core MapInfo software and data products.Perhaps MapInfo's address says it all, One Global View.

Published Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Written by Hal Reid and Joe Francica

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