The Boulder BI Brain Trust


August 2009 Archives

Pitney Bowes Business Insight Merges Group 1 and MapInfo

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PBI logo.pngPitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) presented to BBBT by Joe Pindell, Solution Evangelist. The PBBI division was recently formed from the merger of Group 1 Software (which acquired the old Sagent Technology in 2003) and MapInfo, as shown in figure. The division, in of itself, is a large software company with a 25 year history, 1,700 employees, annual revenue around $500M, and international presence in 60 countries directly and through hundreds of partners. The parent company sees PBBI as its "strategic growth component".

PBBI merge.pngFrom their literature, PBBT offers solutions that "combines location and communications intelligence to offer leading customer and operational management solutions that help organizations more efficiently identify, find and market to customers" as stated in their overview.

Their solution locate customers, enhance with additional data about trends,etc.It is a combination of location intelligence, operational intelligence, predictive analytics, and communication management. The emphasis is definitely on the location intelligence piece. As Pindell said, "Tag line is... Locate, Connect, Communicate", which is good beginning of a strategic message!

My Take... There is no doubt that PBBI is a major player, especially in the location intelligence segment, as an infrastructure component supplier. They are not known as a solution vendor, although they have a strong presence in specific industries, like insurance. However, this presence is particularly due to their large partner network.

PBBI tech.pngI am concerned that PBBI may not have a long-term sustainable business model that inherently fosters innovation that will address future markets. In particular, PBBI needs to maintain and expand their leadership position in location intelligence. On their website, there are 163 product data sheets, along with many more products listed. Missing is an unifying architecture that conveys the sense of long-term product planning.

Pindell's last slide described the Spectrum Technology Platform, formerly called Customer Data Quality Platform. Funny...searching their website for "Spectrum" retrieved no current material. This diagram is definitely the right direction to evolve... a unifying framework for their location intelligence.

I am impressive with their potential. They have deep resources and quality people. They realize the need for vision and direction. Now, they need fixed this problem and drive the thought leader in location intelligence.

eThority Focuses on User-Obvious Interfaces

eThority logo.jpgeThority presented to BBBT with Mike Psenka (President/CEO), Whitney Hutchinson (Director of Marketing), Mikell Lewis (PR Coordinator), Lou Pugliese (Executive Chairman). Psenka started the company 17 years ago with information management tools in healthcare and, in particular, medical schools. His analogy is that their tool is like an automobile in relation with walking or flying. They satisfy the critical need for universal information delivery that anyone could immediately utilize. The company is privately held, no VC funding and profitable.

They state, "We design software that conforms to the way that you work--not vice versa. In our opinion, all software should be designed to serve the end user, which means making it easy to use. Every next step should be obvious... user-obvious, and should not require training." That claim certainly has tremendous interest from corporations, but it is a claim that many vendors make but few actually deliver.

We spend considerable time discussing the issue of governance with data control. Psenka gave an example, "An eight-column report has thousands of permutations, but IT can only support a hundred or so. Add of course, users will want yet another permutation. Further, if you add one additional field, there is a huge ripple effect of more development work for IT. Users need to allow users to extend the base 'System-Of-Record' data with other data, but in a controlled fashion. Psenka then described their distributed security model.

For a feeling of the eThority tool, play with their interactive demos in the Demo Grounds.

My Take... eThority is an example of innovative UI design for usability as a user-facing information delivery tool. Note that I avoided the traditional terms "reporting" and "BI" since the product does not fit comfortably into established categories. There is good news and bad news here. Market penetration is initially difficult...getting in front of the right decision makers. However, the right people will quickly see the business value to eThority.

I like the 'databook' approach: simple flat table as entry point and group/sort/filter easy, along with a secured sharing mechanism. I like the well designed widgets for charting, histograms. I really like the way that chart forecasting is a simple 'slider' extension of the chart. I like their bold initiative to move into complex analysis, like predictive analytics, with a user-obvious interface! However, I am concerned that the company find a viable niche within the BI market.


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