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Archive for July, 2009

Deadline approaches for broadband communications stimulus funds

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Chris Cherry, Pitney Bowes Business Insight

The Federal government has allocated $7.2 Billion in stimulus funds for use in expanding broadband infrastructure in un-served and underserved areas across the United States. Applications for funding are due August 14, 2009.

To apply, enterprising telecom companies must complete a 39-page application and supply very specific information about the markets they will serve. This information includes maps of areas to be served as well as data on numbers of households, population, population density, and average income—all at the Census Block level. The data must illustrate both market need and market type, and companies must demonstrate that 75% or more of the funds they receive will be used in rural areas.

Previously, the effort required to compile this level of precise data could have been overwhelming. Today, however, leading-edge location intelligence solutions are making this aspect of the application process simple. “Demographic Data Bundles” – an offering specifically designed to compile and present the required maps and Census Block Level Data for these applications – can make all the difference.

Dozens of telecom providers have approached us since news of the stimulus funds application came out, and many are already using Demographic Data Bundles to garner their fair share of these much-needed funds. It’s very exciting for us, because not only are we helping them turn these applications around faster and more painlessly, we’re showing them how location intelligence can help them identify where to grow their businesses and do so most profitably.

If interested, information on the application for broadband infrastructure funds can be found at http://broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/.

Are you using location intelligence today? Where has it made the biggest difference for your business?  Use of geo-coding and location intelligence is growing more prevalent every day. It’s used for marketing, logistics, strategic planning – the list goes on and on. In fact, as of last year, 80% of data maintained by companies had a geographic component, and GPS and mobile commerce solutions are pushing that percent higher every day.

 

To learn more about location intelligence and demographic data bundles, check out  http://analytics.pbbiblogs.com/2009/07/28/deadline-approaches-for-broadband-communications-stimulus-funds/

Retailers: rise up from the ashes!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

By Deb Purcell

 

It’s certainly been a tough year for businesses of all kinds. Real estate sales are down. Retail performance is down. And more than 20 large retail chains have gone into liquidation and shut down more than 3000 storefronts. 

 

Yet, there’s a definite silver lining for 2008 survivors.  It comes in the form of decreased competition for both good customers and better real estate.  Trends indicate that, while things may be bad, they are getting better; and, with the massive shifts in the business landscape, there are real opportunities out there for the taking. 

 

So, what are the keys to growing a business in today’s still-tough times?  Here are a few important thoughts: 

 

Opportunity #1: Know and serve your customer:  Serving your customer may seem obvious, but have you really considered how your customers’ needs may have changed with the economic downturn.  Today, it’s all about price. Everyone is shopping for a better deal – and the winners are those who present the best price/value combination.  Keeping a customer costs less than getting a new one. Show empathy for you customers’ situations by offering them true value, so they don’t need to look else where, and give them incentives to come back and see you soon and often.  Loyalty may be lacking today – but this presents an opportunity to strengthen customer relations for the longer term.

 

Opportunity #2: Turn others’ losses into your gain:  Store closings have always meant abandoned customers and real estate, but the dynamics are different today. Many store closings have taken place in otherwise healthy markets – they are a result of corporate liquidations, not local-market decline. Careful geographic analysis can help you to identify now-underserved markets that fit your customer profile. And, with vacancies up and costs down, lease renegotiation is the name of the game in real estate today. Explore your opportunities now, before customers settle into new shopping patterns and the window to lock in lower lease rates closes..

 

Opportunity #3:  Prepare for Market Recovery and Underlying Macro Trends:  The recession may have hit everyone, but the degree of impact and ultimately recovery rates will vary.  As you look for new opportunities, look for recovering markets – markets where the underlying trends will bode a strong rebound.  And, as you plan, remember that, while the recession is at the top of everyone’s mind today, other dynamics – growth in online retailing, demographic shifts in the population in age and diversity, and “green trends” will continue to impact retail markets. Use the current slowdown as an opportunity to plan effectively for these known long-term trends.

 

Comments and questions welcome – would love to hear where else you see opportunity to rise from the ashes of 2008/2009…

 

Cross posted at http://analytics.pbbiblogs.com/

Reflections from insights 09

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Clarence Hempfield
Pitney Bowes Business Insight

Last month, we held two events back-to-back in Orlando, an Analyst Day followed by our Insight 09 User’s Conference.

Clearly, these are two distinct audiences. The analysts who cover our industry, including Gartner, Forrester, IDC, TowerGroup, Ventana Research, Information Difference and Saugatuck, ask a lot of big-picture questions. They want to understand how Pitney Bowes Business Insight—formed when Group 1 Software and MapInfo merged—creates more value than the prior two entities.

While some analysts focus on specific technologies or vertical industries, all were eager to learn about our strategies across the six PBBI product portfolios. The subject of customer data quality came up a lot, and we heard how customer data quality is often not seen as a top priority—until something goes wrong. How those errors can be costly, affecting risk, profits, regulatory compliance and customer relationships. And how making customer data quality a foundation of every PBBI engagement made sense, especially when combined with our unique location intelligence, predictive analytics, document creation, data enhancement and postal efficiency capabilities. Overall, we heard a lot of positive feedback.

But we were challenged as well. Events like these provide PBBI executives with opportunities to listen and learn. Analysts wondered how we planned on supporting hundreds of solutions over the long term, and how we could ensure we didn’t lose focus as we continue to grow.

When one analyst later wrote, “Refreshingly, PBBI people were not full of themselves,” I took that as a testament to our willingness to listen.

In some ways, crossing the hall the next day to meet with customers at our user’s conference was a major shift. While industry analysts deal in big picture strategies, many of our users came to Orlando to gain insights on specific point-level applications. The need to ensure that we didn’t lose focus was quickly evident.

It’s not unusual for specific users to know us for one solution and one solution only. Their interest in PBBI is much more straightforward and their question clear: how is this one thing you do going to make my life better.

They wanted to know whether complying with the USPS Intelligent Mail® mandate will require them to redesign customer statements, whether our new mapping interface will help them work more efficiently, and how we can help them expedite remittance processing.

Throughout our merger, we’ve made it a priority to put customers first. And as our day-to-day users value tangible innovation more than strategic plans—it was important for us to demonstrate value in a hands-on way. Over the past year, we introduced a long list of product innovations, including MapInfo Professional 10, EngageOne Interactive and Mail360 to name a few, and the response has been excellent.

Clearly, the needs of our users are different from the needs of department heads and company executives, which are distinct from the needs of industry analysts and other constituents. While we are one company with one story, we have to adapt our message so that it is relevant to each and every market we serve.

While that may not be an ‘aha’ moment, this reflection did cause me to smile. Coming off a major merger, Pitney Bowes Business Insight is still evolving, but must also remain true to the customers who have known (and liked) us for over 20 years. And given today’s economic realities – doesn’t every company face this same challenge?

Banks are consolidating. Insurance companies merging. Others reinventing themselves. Every organization is evolving – balancing the needs of diverse segments, shifting from strategy to tactics, becoming something new while remaining faithful to long-term customers. Some constituents want to read about long-term vision while across the hall, someone wants you to fix a button. To be successful, companies need to understand the needs of all their constituents. They need to target messages more effectively. They need to predict outcomes with greater confidence. And take into consideration more data points than ever before.

So while flying back from our analyst day and user’s conference I smiled for a simple reason. This challenge we face – this challenge every organization faces – explains why PBBI exists.

Helping companies locate new opportunities, connect with customers and communicate more effectively is what we’re all about.

Some days, we’re helping firms make smarter decisions about where to open, close or update their retail facilities—making strategic decisions based on underlying market needs and sales potential. Other days we’re helping companies pull together disparate data, create accurate customer profiles and initiate one-to-one dialogues using more relevant Transpromo communications.

In a nutshell, we’re providing the insights, expertise and tools than can help organizations respond to the one question that is on the mind of every customer, executive and shareholder: how is this one thing you do going to make my life better.

Now that’s focus.

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