Group 1 Software President Christopher Baker had been on the job for only a few days when he was asked about how he would spur growth at the wholly owned subsidiary of $5.1 billion giant Pitney Bowes Inc. His answer: partners. Baker discussed both Group 1's partnership with Siebel and the fact that Group 1 has recently entered the Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Program with the integration between its Data Quality Adapter and Microsoft CRM.
"I heard from a Siebel representative that, on average, their customers spend 52 percent of their communication dollars through physical mail, so that's both marketing and selling and interaction with customers," he said. "And with the Siebel-deployed solution, you get very interactive data response, you look at the response rates on campaigns, you get to see when customers are responding and how they're responding on the electronic side of this. But on the physical side they have zero data ' to find out what's going on with their customers.
"In the call center...we're able to provide a connector for a Siebel call center which will allow the customer service agent to not only know the disposition of all of the physical communications, but also to provide opportunities to see 'as-built renderings' of documents, so you don't have a customer service agent who is looking at a green screen while the customer is saying, 'At the bottom of page two, that's what I have a question about,' and the agent responds, 'Um, excuse me sir, I don't have a bottom of a page two.' "
And while the call center and customer care sector represents what Baker described as a small component of his firm's business, he added that the expectation is for it to be a quickly growing part of the business.
"Our product offering is around data quality connectors and connectors for, specifically, call centers to bring data around the movement of their communications," he said. "[The] call center [market] is certainly a sweet spot for us as we integrate both the electronic delivery and the physical delivery of communications to customers.
"When you think about the call center, to date, there has been zero data available after that physical mail piece has left a customer's facility. One of the little niche areas that we expect to dominate in is through our connections with our partners, such as Siebel, Microsoft and others, to make sure that customers, particularly those who have an interest in the call center and the contact center, understand that having data from all of their communications, and being able to leverage that data to more successfully communicate with their customers, is going to be an important aspect [of what they do]."
The company's solutions are used by more than 3,500 organizations worldwide in the utilities, financial services/banking, GIS/mapping, retail, telecommunications, insurance and other industries, including firms such as Entergy, L.L. Bean, MapQuest, QVC, Siemens, Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.
Baker added that he has no plans to be a catalyst for change, but to continue the strategy that Group 1 and Pitney Bowes defined a year ago, which he described as "customer communication management."
"[CCM] is the umbrella idea around integrating all the disparate pieces that are critically important for [companies] to communicate with their customers more effectively and more efficiently," he said. "CCM is finally a term we can use to describe all of the different components of communicating with customers." He went on to call CCM "a new space with no competition."
"There are a ton of small, spot solution providers that might have something around data quality ' they might have a specific connector to a specific area. But nobody has put all the pieces together. We've been able to take these pieces, put them together and really have a complete, integrated solution that's interoperable, independent of platform, independent of data types back and forth.
"I don't think there are any competitors in this space. I think we're really forging new ground, although we have our traditional competitors in any one specific spot solution."
He said the company has competed with FirstLogic "on some of the data quality, some of the connectors and postal optimization' while also mentioning Trillogy.
"Our message [with] CCM is this is new ground and there really isn't anybody there," he said. "It'd be about 28 companies that it would take to put together to figure out who our competitors are and they'd all have to come together in one to compete with us in the CCM space."
Baker also offered his thoughts on CRM, saying that 'we like to think of Group 1 Software as, we don't build CRM, but we make CRM better."
"When we just received the certification with Microsoft, we did that by providing a connector so third-party integrators ' can achieve all of the benefits of Group 1 tools inside of [CRM] software.
"Even if I'm a 15-seat CRM company, I have 15 sales reps out there who are working and focus on the salesforce automation piece. As leads come in, how do I know that that is a different company or the same company, how do I know and collect information, how do I ensure that when I send communications to this customer, that those communications will both be efficiently sent and achieve the best savings?"
Baker added that in its entirety, the firm's suite will be available for its partners to be used in their CRM systems, call centers and throughout their enterprises. Future strategies will ensure delivery in any model deemed preferable, including local and hosted Web services.
"Group 1's tools...are very modular pieces of software that are scalable on all types of platforms," he added while speaking from the firm's user conference in Washington. "We have...500 users...at our user conference. They have deployed our solutions in just about every way conceivably possible.
"I want to be as big as they come. We plan to aggressively pursue the space, and the market is growing rapidly." CIS