Friday, October 30, 2009

MindGenius interview part 2

During July 2009 I conducted an interview with MindGenius; recent events however opened a “part 2” interview opportunity with Dustin Newport. The following is an extension to the original interview.

1. Tell us about yourself Dustin; what is your position and responsibilities within the MindGenius organization?

I am Commercial Sales Director at MindGenius. My responsibilities include building relationships with all of our clients through direct touch and channels. In doing so we harvest sales opportunities by responding to our customer needs. These can range from simple product demos right through to specific feature requests that we feed into future release cycles. Our sales ethos is built around dialogue and understanding and building what customers want! This is core to our strategy.

2. You are well known within the UK Business management arena; what skill set have you brought to MindGenius?

My specific experiences within this industry are the main values I have brought to MindGenius. I have operated within the visual mapping community for 5 years now (which you could argue makes me a veteran in this space). Specifically, I have overseen and directly managed some of the largest enterprise installations of this technology within leading Blue-chip organisations. I have sat alongside executives within prospects and built specific maps addressing core business needs such as Client Dashboards, Bid Management Templates, or Six Sigma work breakdown structures. By doing so, I like to think I bring substantial and real-world exposure to the value that mapping delivers to the coalface in business. This understanding is critical in shaping the behaviour and strategy behind our commercial activities. Also, through these same experiences I have engaged at CxO level in the enterprise and built a direct understanding of what key business issues they are trying to address and how delivering a visual mapping solution can help address some of these. Mapping delivers both individual and macro level benefits across the organisation.

3. What attracted you to the product?

The thing that attracted me to MindGenius was the tremendous customer loyalty and successful adoption of the product in the market place with very little historic commercial activity behind it. I soon realised that with some customer relationships and sales focus we could take the market by storm. It wasn’t until I started looking at the product in more detail though and speaking to some MindGenius customers that I really got what made this company so different. MindGenius is humble, and it listens. Its product is not a technology showpiece, but an absolute reflection of key business needs. The fact that MindGenius was developed within a client (Gael Quality), is evident throughout the application. It is a no-nonsense, ‘get it done’ product.

4. MindGenius 3 has recently been released to market; what makes it stand out amongst the many visual mapping products available to date?

As already touched on, the DNA of this product is customer driven functionality and ease of use. There seems to be a ‘gold rush’ on to try and be all things to all men among mapping vendors. To try and cover as many platforms as possible and to have the biggest feature list. We’re simply not playing that game! We are focussed on delivering an easy to understand highly focussed offering, which does the job and does it well. To answer your questions specifically, customers are warmly welcoming the update in our look and feel as well as getting very excited by new functions such as ‘export to Excel’ and building customer question sets to drive brainstorming.

5. There’s a lot of competition in this field; why should we purchase MindGenius 3?

I will point to pieces of evidence that I think help provide the answer. We have gone to both existing MG customers who simply love the updates, whilst retaining our core ‘feel’. We have gone to customers who are brand new to mapping and are performing competitive evaluations. In nearly all cases we are winning based on ‘ease of use’, ‘simplicity’ and ‘good value’. Finally, we are also approaching competitive sites/users via our partners. Despite the challenges of incumbency we are delighted with a real desire to consider alternatives and that MindGenius is scoring very favourably. I will simply draw your attention to a number of blogs and related comments where such comparisons are being made to help substantiate my claim here.

6. Would you classify MindGenius 3 as a Mind mapping or Visual mapping product?

Not sure I want to get drawn into this debate on definitions. Personally, I position it as ‘Information Mapping’ when talking with customers but one could easily argue we are also based on a ‘mind mapping’ platform. Are we a thoroughbred ‘mind mapping’ application? Probably not! Do customers really care? I’m not sure they do.

7. How do you view the current positioning of MindGenius within the Visual mapping arena?

I would like the community to view us as I’ve described above. We refer to ‘applied innovation’. We mean that the innovation is driven through customer demand, rather than for the sake of innovation. I think we would be positioned as an easy to use product that delivers tremendous business driven functionality. We are mature and proven and used across 500,000 desktops. Our customers are proving to be very loyal. These values and observations should position us as the mature and robust offering that meets with the needs of users. These are the user driven arguments at least. However there is a much bigger CIO argument playing out here. Other vendors are pursuing the notion of trying to build collaboration and document management into their mapping offerings. In doing so, we are hearing that CIO’s are getting confused on how such offerings can sit alongside their existing web sharing (ie WebEx, LiveMeeting) or Sharepoint investments (all of which are proven enterprise platforms). MindGenius is clear cut. We are a pureplay desktop mapping proposition. Our product delivers value to an existing collaboration strategy and underpins the investment in web sharing technology. Where WebEx/Livemeeting etc provide the plumbing and ‘utility’ of sharing desktops, MindGenius delivers the contextual layer. This means remote meetings come to life through information capture, assigning actions, priorities and outputs. None of this requires an investment in infrastructure or signing up to additional SaaS services.

8. Do you benchmark other products; why or why not?

No, we don’t. We think it’s unhealthy to focus attention on looking at competitive offerings and forming strategy and development accordingly. For sure, we can’t ignore competition but our key drivers are our customers.

9. Name two functions of MindGenius you believe are unique to the product?

I actually don’t know all the products out there now, so I’ll tell you what customers tell me are 2 favourite features.

1) Simultaneous map pane and ‘explorer’ with drill down. No more ‘panning’ and ‘zooming’ to navigate large, complex maps. Simply, customers love it!

2) Customised question sets to enable complete guidance and parameter setting around brainstorming.

10. In what arenas’ is MindGenius successfully being used?

How long have you got? I’ve seen them all. We’re used across the following areas;
• Sales Management
• Project Management
• Consultants
• Bid management
• Six Sigma
• Personal workload management
• Meeting management ; Notes capturing, presenting, taking actions
• Software development; Agile and scrum methodology
• Team building; Utilising Myers Briggs or Insights methodologies

11. What’s the feedback from your user base; please provide a couple of testimonies?

"MindGenius has always given me the ability to capture my ideas or customer requirements, organise, understand and prioritize them quickly. After this, I can go on and share the map with colleagues or customers, or undertake the resulting actions. MindGenius 3 makes this process even more streamlined and effective. My job is extremely demanding and MindGenius 3 makes it so easy to handle my ideas and plans that I genuinely don't know what I would do without it." Giles Massingham, District Manager, Bang & Olufsen.

“MindGenius provides a transferable methodology which allows me to remove barriers across the organization, enabling people to collaborate on a day to day business on challenges, where all thinking constraints are removed. As well as all of that, I can connect people from various parts of the globe when I deliver this service via the Web. I would recommend MindGenius to any business.”
Ian Stevenson, Senior Vice President – Global Business Development, Technip Subsea Division

12. Do you have, or are preparing an API for SDK development; and is this an important issue?

13. Visual mapping seems to be evolving into the inclusion of Database capabilities: would you view this as being significant for the future of MindGenius?

14. Is MindGenius cloud computing services on your radar?

Questions 12-14:
Yes all of these things are of course on our radar/in the pipeline. The issue is one of which ones to prioritise. This is answered by customer demand. We are not doing these things to simply ‘tick the box’.

15. Do you listen to the Voice of the Customer, and how do you do this?

This is our core strength. EVERY SINGLE customer who either downloads a trial or purchases our software receives an email and a call either from MindGenius or our local channel partner. Every single piece of customer product request is logged and fed into our Product Management database in order to assess whether or not it should form part of a future release. This attention to customer detail and not simply relying on a ‘cool’ product and website is what sets us apart from competition.

16. What’s your MindGenius elevator pitch?

Well, if it’s a CIO – that’s an easy one. “What’s your collaboration strategy?”, “OK, great – so people can share desktops and documents – how are they capturing minutes, assigning actions, sharing the notes with colleagues?” – the pained expression as they explain hand written note taking and distributed hastily penned minutes after the meeting normally give enough away. “OK, so try running your next web meeting using a visual mapping tool. We’ll give you; visually engaging context, a canvass for capturing discussion, ability to capture tasks and assign resources and ability to instantly distribute in native form or any other application of choice; Word, Power point, Project etc”. So far, this approach is not failing!

However, if they’re not a CIO – it’s a little tougher as it’s a role based/user proposition. It’s stuff though like establish their role, make a bold claim such as ‘I can change the way you work for the better’ and, if you caught them at the right time get them to agree to look at your website or attend a quick online demo. MindGenius is like a beautiful painting. It has to be seen. To describe it will simply not do it justice.

17. How much does MindGenius 3 cost, and where can we purchase it?

How many would you like? We charge a perpetual license model based on ‘per person’. The cost is £147/$235. However, for enterprise we consider scaled discounting based on commitment and also introduce subscription pricing at this level for anything over 250 seats. Finally, where there’s an incumbent competitive offering, we are providing some very competitively priced enterprise licensing alternatives.

An interesting extension to the original interview for sure: and while there has been a few capability and functional changes from the previous version of MindGenius. The developers are, I believe, simply stating they are still in the Visual mapping development field.

It’s very clear the developers of MindGenius are customer focused, and disregard (not entirely) the competition in favour of the voice of the customer. This is indeed very rare in these days of unit sales importance over unit function capabilities for the user.

The importance of embedding and Database capabilities for future builds would IMO be a serious consideration. In terms of evolving this product past the constraints of mere Mind mapping; this would certainly place MindGenius firmly within the leading pack of Visual mapping products.

While at this time MindGenius does not have an API available for SDK development, they may consider this for the future integration with third party developers.

Regarding cloud computing; yes, there does seem to be a global movement towards this approach by the mainstream developers. Indeed if this becomes a customer demand, I do believe we’ll see MindGenius in the cloud at some point; that is if the cloud proves to be successful, and not another potential dot com crash.

Keep an eye on this very functional business mapping product. I’m sure there are further improvements planned that will widen the appeal of MindGenius, especially within North America.

Wallace Tait (Visualmapper)


Wojciech Korsak said...

Hi Wallace,

excellent article - as always!

Thank You for sharing this material

Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D said...

Hi Wallace

Very interesting and informative! Once again you are the master of interviewing leading thought leaders in the visual mapping field. Keep up the excellent work!