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Archive for July 7th, 2009

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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