Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
DMTI Spatial acquired by Neopost
October 21st, 2013 by Susan Smith
In a conversation with John Fisher, CEO of Canadian-based DMTI Spatial, we discussed that company’s acquisition by mailroom solutions provider, Neopost. According to the press release, Neopost is progressively building a portfolio of new activities to enhance its offering and support its clients’ needs in areas of Customer Communications Management, Data Quality and Shipping Solutions, including logistics and traceability. Neopost has a direct presence in 30 countries, with 6,000 employees and annual sales of €1.1 billion in 2012. Its products and services are sold in more than 90 countries.
Neopost has been growing a software division around data quality for the past several years, and were looking for a company that had deep location expertise to add to the mix. They approached DMTI Spatial and they began working together, and eventually Neopost decided to acquire the location based data quality solutions company.
This acquisition is reminiscent of the acquisition of MapInfo by Pitney Bowes of several years ago, demonstrating a possible trend in mailstream solutions companies who see the urgent need to add location-based and data quality to their solutions. Neopost and Pitney Bowes are the biggest companies in mailstream solutions.
Neopost have over 800,000 customers around the world. “One of the big advantages of them acquiring us is we gain access to that huge customer base,” explained Fisher. “They also have 20,000 people on the street as salesmen.”
Mail is very dependent upon location, in particular addresses, said Fisher. “Address is the most common way of expressing location. We have built over the last years a way to tease out location from address information and how to analyze it and make use of it, both to improve data quality and to help with decision making and workflows.”
Neopost’s interest in DMTI Spatial is in large part because of their Fortune 500 customer base in the same verticals that Neopost is in, i.e. telco, insurance, government and they supply most of the big internet players as well.
DMTI Spatial will be keeping the same staff and hiring a lot of new people.
As far as integrating DMTI Spatial’s offerings with those of Neopost, Fisher said this process is pretty straightforward. “The first thing we have to do to expand internationally is to source the data that allows us to form the reference database. And we developed some interesting technology for how to do that efficiently. The software is the same no matter where you are, we just have to tweak it for local convention. We’ve already done that in China and New Zealand. In terms of working with the other Neopost companies, they are also are working in data quality space. They have particular expertise around names and naming technology. Our customers have said if only we can combine names with addresses and deal with them both in a quantitative way, so now we have access to that technology.”
According to Gartner (from DMTI’s press release), the market for data quality tools has become highly visible in recent years as more organizations understand the impact of poor-quality data and seek solutions for improvement. Neopost/Human Inference is positioned in the visionaries’ quadrant of Gartner’s influential 2013 Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools, a market that was approximately $960 million in software related revenue at the end of 2012.
DMTI’s platform, Location Hub, is built around the idea that location is a common piece of information that connects almost all other information. What the Hub does is is a series of web services, a SaaS environment, cloud based; you give it access to a database, whether transactional or millions of records.
“What it does is tease the address component or location component out of the information and it compares it against the reference database,” said Fisher. “We create a proxy of the real world, all the core elements; the buildings, parcels, address, roads, etc. and each of those we code with a permanent unique ID. So the purpose of address recognition is to tease out the location component, recognize it as being part of the reference data base and then give it the unique ID. So at that moment, you are now connected to a universe of information. If there are any errors with the intake data, it fixes all that immediately and it is forever connected to that record. It can be immediately changed in your internal data. Now you’re connected – what else would you like to know? What businesses are in that location? What risks are around it, who is in the neighborhood? What is the value? Those sources of data are immediately available because of what we call the Location Economics EcoSystem; We’re going to all third party providers and getting them connected to our Location Hub, so if you’re a tax authority, or you have database of busiensses, then we just pass your database through the Hub, attach the IDs, and now your connected to anyone else who uses the Hub.”
The Location Hub ensures data quality because it does data correction as the data passes through, and it is connected at an ID level. It is also happening at lightning speed.
DMTI Spatial uses multiple redundant data sources for crowdsourcing. “Our concept is, no one has it right,” said Fisher, “so we collect the same data from multiple sources and compare them all, and checking the veracity of the source – we’re constantly using a corroborative index, i.e., what’s the weight of evidence saying it’s true or false? It makes it possible to handle crowdsourcing because you’re only treating it as an indicator rather than as a fact.”