PETER MORRISON with JAY EDADES: "We want to give SMEs the means to identify market segments at cost."
In an increasingly competitive business environment, companies are always looking for ways to get a leg up on the competition. Market research tools and data mining software are thus becoming weapons of choice for enterprises looking for a competitive advantage, using them to sniff out potential new markets and identify ways to make even tidier profits. Long used by multinationals and dominant local players, these essential tools are now increasingly becoming available to SMEs.
One local company that aims to equip small business with data-mining and research tools is Paperless Trail Inc. (PTI), a six-year-old enterprise that specializes in providing customized research and data management tools. The company believes SMEs have as much use for research software as bigger companies, and aims to provide this segment with low-cost solutions.
PTI president Peter Morrison explains: "In a competitive market, data must be available for decision makers at the snap of a finger because their decisions become more critical. We aim to provide tools that big companies as well as SMEs can use, as well as programs that are customized to their needs."
Indeed, PTI's roster of products is geared towards equipping enterprises with the necessary decision-making tools: Archive One, an online file management system; Perspective Geographic Information System (GIS), a system for capturing, storing, analyzing, managing location-based data; Perspective Financial, an accounting tool; and Online Metrics, a Web-based training portal for training medical representatives.
PTI technical director Jay Edades says their Perspective GIS can help managers and decision-makers pinpoint where their target markets are located and identify potential opportunities for expansion.
"Our GIS system can be very specific, such that we can actually pinpoint where a company's potential customers are based on the data the company provides us," he explains. "This is very useful for companies gearing up for marketing or expansion campaigns, as well as a good tool for managers to know where the underserved and growth areas are in their areas of operation."
Fast-food companies like Jollibee and Shakey's currently use the GIS for their delivery services, using it to map out routes and service areas covered.
The good news for SMEs is that the PTI software tools are affordably priced. PTI says they have the flexibility to bundle any of their products into a package that starts at an upfront fee of $1,000 (around P47,000) for software installation and a monthly fee of $75 (around P3,525) per user per month.
"We understand the needs of SMEs because we are an SME ourselves," Morrison says. "We know how important data management is for companies, especially those in the startup phase. We want to give them the means to identify and specifically target market segments at cost."
Aside from data-mining software, PTI also specializes in data-archiving systems though its Archive One service. The service converts paper files into digital ones and stores them in a database server that the client can access anytime, anywhere. The service is particularly popular with mining companies, which usually have large amounts of paperwork.
Explains Edades: "The client gives us the documents, we scan them, and convert them to digital files. We then install the software on a client's specified server, and we teach them how to maintain the system as well as install some updates for it."
PTI expects demand for their services to grow in the coming months, as companies get to know the potential of data-mining software for their businesses. Edades says the company is targeting total sales of P30 million for 2008, and expects even bigger growth in 2009 due to strong interest from SMEs.
Says Edades: "As companies start to get technically more aware, they will find that data consolidation can become a minor headache because data-mining is not one of their core competencies. This is where PTI can help. We'll take care of data-mining for them so they can focus on what they do best.
PAPERLESS TRAIL INC.
104 V.A. Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Telephone: (02) 893-5351