Tactician: From Desktop Marketing to Enterprise Solutions

By Joe Francica

Tony Buxton, President of Tactician Inc., is a maverick in many ways, selecting to follow his own course in the geospatial arena leading his company to focus more on desktop marketing than a more generic course of desktop mapping.Prefering instead to service a slowly growing, yet loyal base of customers, Mr.Buxton continues to expand his product offering and look at enterprise solutions in terms of expanding out from his marketing solutions base.Editor-in-Chief, Joe Francica, spoke by phone with Mr.Buxton to hear about the future plans for Tactician.

Joe Francica (JF): Tactician has been a "quiet company" over the last few years but has maintained a loyal client base.Why so quiet and why have customers remained so loyal?

Tony Buxton (TB): Our customers expect us to be a world leader in geographic marketing systems.For the past four years, in partnership with some of the world's leading brands, we have been singularly focused on product development to sustain our leadership position.The centerpiece of our effort is the first open architecture technology platform that can deliver seamlessly integrated target marketing solutions at the desktop, across an enterprise, or from any web-browser.

We are calling the platform Tactician® One.With this platform, Tactician solutions can now integrate the entire geographic marketing process, from strategy development and planning through to marketing execution. This is an attractive proposition for progressive marketers in many industries, most notably in retail, real estate, and media.

Integrated target marketing on one technology platform is a bold concept. The effort required to achieve it should not be underestimated.Feedback from our customers, mostly in the form of repeat business, tells us that we are the first to accomplish it.

JF: In many ways, Tactician has maintained a similar model as in the mid-1990s with selling software and geo-demographic data.What percentage of your business is simply selling software and data? How much do you now see from selling an engagement of solutions, consulting, or custom software development?

TB: It is true that we still have some customer relationships based on the software/data model.But in a world where results mean everything, our primary value proposition today embodies a performance-based model in which our revenues are more closely linked to application usage and execution.

We have partnered with several of our largest customers to implement custom solutions that leverage the fact that our core technology is itself a COM object, providing a single base of accessible code that underpins all of our desktop and online products.

JF: Do you still see that your alliance with distributors and other partners is important for growth of your company?

TB: Our distributors and partners provide content, value-added user functions, and strategic customer relationships, so they will continue to be important contributors to the growth of our company.

JF: MapScape.com is your web-based solution for a variety of applications. What are you seeing in terms of market penetration with this solution? Does this allow Tactician to expand its horizons beyond the typical GIS analyst and to a real estate or marketing professional?

TB: Our ability to deliver geographic marketing applications online has allowed us to integrate the execution of marketing campaigns into our solutions.It has also enabled our customers to integrate their marketing functions across the enterprise.We will be re-branding MapScape.com® as Tactician® Online in 2004, accessible at Tactician.com, to reflect the seamless integration of our desktop and online solutions.

JF: When you engage clients about web-based applications, do you have to provide them with a vision of how it can be used throughout the organization? Are they getting it?

TB: As with most new technologies there is an adoption curve. Many of our customers are early-adopter thought leaders so they typically "get it" very quickly.These customers are using our technology to great effect, capturing greater market share while also realizing cost-saving efficiencies.The vast majority of companies out there are poised to get started and we'll be there to support them when they are good and ready.

JF: How many of your customers are engaged in "serious" market modeling, sales forecasting, and network planning? Does this represent a growth opportunity for Tactician?

TB: Any company using a GIS solution is engaged in some sort of market modeling or forecasting.Tactician customers are able to go to the next level because we focused only on geographic marketing solutions and we're still the only provider of market models integrated at source level.

JF: Who are your competitors and what do you feel are your unique competitive advantages?

TB: Depending on how you look at it, we have many competitors or none.Our vision is to integrate the full spectrum of geographically-based marketing activities on a single technology platform that supports desktop and web-based applications.A great many companies have chosen to provide solutions for individual pieces of the marketing process, but none that we know of have been able to put their customers in control of the entire process in the way that we have.We have points of competitive advantage at each point along the marketing process continuum, but our primary advantage remains our ability to harness the entire process for customers in a single system.Watching it work repeatedly for our customers is a tremendous reward.

JF: How do you see the market evolving for geospatial technology? Do you see that business intelligence software companies are becoming more aware of the analytical capabilities of this technology and Tactician's specifically?

TB: The issue is not awareness but the depth of what can be achieved. Business intelligence is incomplete without spatial components so these companies cannot avoid it if they want to stay in the game.

JF: What threats do you see to your business from larger companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Siebel, and others? Could they begin to offer similar services that would undermine your ability to engage larger clients with solutions? Or are they potential partners?

It is unavoidable that these very large companies will introduce various products into the field of marketing, because they too are in need of ways to grow.However they can also be partners because we enhance their reach. That has been the nature of the business since day one.

JF: Can you tell us more about where Tactician will be positioned in the market over the next 2-3 years?

TB: Our direction is best described by the words "leadership and execution," carefully chosen for use in our tag line.By this we mean that our customers will be leaders as a consequence of our ability to deliver integrated target marketing solutions that produce measurable results through execution.


Published Friday, December 19th, 2003

Written by Joe Francica



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