Map Business Online Blog

Read about business mapping and how it can help your business succeed.

Filter Your Imported Data in Map Business Online

Business mapping software usually enables spatial searches and filtering searches of your business data.

Filtering data in Map Business Online is a little different from conducting a spatial search of your business data. Once you’ve imported data into MBO to create business maps or just plain business data visualization you can create subset lists of your data based on geographic queries and data filtering.

A geographic query or spatial search is a search conducted within an area that the user designates using search tools in the product. It might be a radius search or a search based on a polygon or drive time area.  It could be the search of a specific map sales territory or market area of interest.
Spatial Search Examples
A Spatial Search

A filtered search takes place in the Map Business Online Data Window.  Open the Data Window.  In the middle of the Data Window tool bar you will notice two search operations along the Data Window tool bar:

  1. A quick search – A blank white space with a binocular icon and a delete button. Cursor-hover over this and it will say: Enter text to search data rows by name
  2. A filter icon button – Cursor-hover over the filter icon and it will say: Filter data rows

Use the Quick Search function to search data by the Left most column of your imported data. Enter a keyword, a few letters, unique numbers to get a set of results which will display in the data window.
Filtered Data example
A Filter Search

Use the Filter button to open the filter dialogue box which will, allow you to search any column of your data. Within the Filter dialog you may choose the column or columns you wish to search and then use the drop down in the middle to apply a modifier to your search.  A modifier might include symbols like > (greater than), = (equal too), or contains, among a few other modifiers. Once applied these modifiers generate a result that is displayed in the data window – a subset of the originally imported data layer.  You will notice in the lower right of the results a tally of the number of returned results and the original file’s total number of records.

Whether you are working with the Quick Search or the Filter button your data can be filtered on the actual map view too.  You’ll notice a Check-box labeled Filter Data on the Map just below the Data drop down in the upper left hand corner of the data window. Check that box and your data results will be the only data showing on the map.

Also, you will now be able to export your filtered data result to a CSV file and use the data outside of Map Business Online. To export simply click the right most button on the Data Window tool bar. An alternative export method is the old school cut and paste.

Cut and Paste functions in Map Business Online occur when you click the Copy Data & paste button in the lower right corner of the Data Window. You’ll see the double page icon and when you hover over it, the button says: Copy data to clipboard. Pay attention to the Copy Data button dialogue. You will note you can resize the Data Window view to change the number of records visible in the window and copy and paste just those visible records. This comes in handy at times.

To the right of the filter button are two additional tools you can use to create marketing lists out of multiple filtering actions. You could, for instance, create a new marketing list and populate it with data results from multiple filtering operations.

MBO users use data filtering operations in the Data Window to support a variety of business activities:

I’m sure there are many applications for data filtering that your business can dream up. Geographic and spatial searches are core features for business mapping and GIS applications.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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How Can I Query a List of Cities?

Sometimes a business map user wants to conduct a radius search on a data base of cities, and to export the query result out of the application. A search result of cities can be achieved using Map Business Online, and other business mapping software applications.  A few tweaks are necessary to set up the city data.

Cities are present in Map Business Online in multiple ways.  The base map data shows cities as part of the background map tapestry that is included with Map Business Online. However, the cities in the base map data are not query-able because they are part of the base map raster image, as opposed to a layer on top of a vector map background.The background base map is a one continuous image that covers the whole world and that image includes cities and towns.

MBO users can make sure their vector layers, like zip codes, states or counties, are set to transparent which will let those cities and towns show through and into your map analysis. Transparency controls are located in your target map layer in Map and Data. Still, that background map raster image will only show certain cites at certain zoom levels. Zoom further in to expose less populated cities and towns.

Premium Map Layers

Additional map layers are available in Map Business Online for annual subscription holders.  Click the Blue Globe button on the tool bar, now located about seven buttons in from the left.  Here you’ll find City Limits and Cities, as well as other additional layers of interest.

For developing exportable lists of cities, you’ll want to use the City Limits layer.  The layer called Cities is a visual reference of city points only. Users can add the City layer on top of territory or market analysis maps, for reference purposes, but you can’t query the City layer.
City Query
If you Add your City Limits layer to the map you’ll be able to build areas of interest and territories based on City Limits, just like you’ve done using State, County or Zip Code layers. City Limit objects are presented to the map viewer based on city population size – the more populated cities show up at the zoomed out levels.  As you zoom into the map more cities and towns come into view.

City Limit territories and markets areas will include all city limit objects within your designated circular or polygon areas of interest. If you conduct a radius search the resultant dataset will include all the city limits touched by the radius or polygon object as well as all cities included within the circle or polygon.

I love the city limit layer for building demographic maps or for creating map analysis that tends to focus on metropolitan areas.

Adding the City Limits layer to your map lets you build areas of interest and export those city and town names out of MBO as a CSV file. A city limits based areas of interest view is also sharable through interactive map web map sharing, through shared saved image files, or via a printable map. MBO users can also add city names to your zip code analysis as well. Read on.

USPS Zip Codes

When you purchase or try Map Business Online, the application comes setup with Census ZTCA zip codes preloaded.  With ZTCA zips selected, territories and market areas of interest will list zip codes but will not include cities and towns, or placenames in your zip code analysis. To change this, open the Map & Data box.  Choose the Edit Gear on Map and Data tool bar.  You are now in the Manage Map and Data function. Choose the Zip codes tab.

In Zip Codes, along the bottom there is a drop down for Zip Code options.  Choose USPS Zip Codes with Fillers.  Fillers will allow you to fill in territory gaps over national parks; this can be helpful out West or in northern Maine. By choosing the USPS zip codes, your zip code map analysis and sales territory mapping will now include a column for Placename and in this case Placenames refers to a database of cities and towns.

Once you’ve chosen your Zip Code option, all territories and areas of interest you create moving forward will include a column for Placenames. Please be aware your old maps will not pick up this change.

Import Your Own List of Cities

Now you might think we’ve got you completely covered in Map Business Online with the various city data options listed above; and for most people, we do.  However, you’ll run into the occasional business map user who has a boss who wants to see only certain cities on his map, or perhaps he or she wants a to see certain cities with labels turned on and some with labels turned off. I just thought I’d mention, you can always create a two column spreadsheet of cities and states for manually placing city points on the map. It’s definitely going old school for city listings, but it will let you tweak the placement and labeling just the way your boss likes it.

Between the Placenames column and the City Limits option, you should have plenty of ways to get lists of cities for your use within or outside of Map Business Online.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Clearly Express Your Business Map Message

Your very first mapping experience probably happened through a childrens’ book.  The Sponge Bob Kids History Research Institute reports most children are exposed to the concept of ‘mapping’ by the age of two years. For children, maps are typically depicted as guides to where the secret treasure is located, perhaps for Aladdin or Captain Hook. But as an adult, maps become more visual aids than treasure maps.

Over the holiday break I noticed two map infographics circulating in my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds. (Hey, so I was working a little? It’s not like I was checking my LinkedIn at a New Year’s Eve party. I’m not that guy.)  One map showed the most common Internet searches by state.  Maine’s was Amy Schumer.  And the other map showed, again by state, the most likely cause of death on average compared with other states.  Maine’s was the Flu – which surprised me. Get your shots people.

Now I found both of these maps to be visually informative. I glanced at them briefly and I quickly understood what they were trying to communicate. This, to me, is a critical element of a successful map or business map. Maps do not need to be complicated, colorful, or multilayered to get the job done. In fact, the more complicated or busy your map becomes, the less that map may communicate. A lot depends on knowing your map audience. What is your map audience looking for?

As Ben Carson, the one-time GOP leading candidate for president recently found out, maps need to be proof read. Take time creating and publishing your maps.  Leave them for a while. Come back later and view the map with fresh eyes. Look for glaring inconsistencies, or simple mistakes. Ask a colleague to review your map.  Try to see your map from the perspective of your map users.

Ben’s map person would have done well to examine that odd-shaped New England section before releasing it to a world eager to poke holes in his boss’ reputation. I include this video link to show how maps can generate the wrong result if you are not careful. Do not fall into this trap. Maps, like any other document, are subject to human error.

So no matter what mapping tools you apply, be thoughtful and careful with your map creation. Your map is a visual aide, not the busy kitchen table catch-all of spatial ideas. Keep it clean and neat. It is often valuable to consider what not to include in your business map:

Base Map-Data – Does your map require base-map data?  Perhaps just state outlines will do the trick. Digital base-map data is without a doubt one of the coolest things our generation has loosed on the world, and you may have access to the most accurate and up-to-date data available. Just make sure that a base-map data layer adds value to your map’s intent. All business mapping software should let you adjust this feature.

Administrative Districts – What administrative district – zip code, state, county – layer makes the most sense for your map view? It’s not always zip codes, although zip code maps are most commonly created, in my experience. Perhaps your business analysis is more effectively communicated over counties?  This could be because counties are easier to visualize nationwide, or because population by county displays better than by zip code, or perhaps because county population data adds more value to your analysis than the zip code population. Think it through. It only takes a moment.

Map Extent – At what zoom level of detail should your map be presented? A zoom extent covering the whole contiguous USA map may feel like it defines your map project, but the details may be more pertinent by zip code, in which case four separate regional map views might display more effectively for your map audience. A map describing the density of hospitals across the USA works at a USA wide level, while a demographic population map classifying all the Methodist Churches by congregation size might work better regionally.

Label Definition – Your map may or may not include state labels, zip code labels or imported data labels. Make sure they are required before turning them on.  If your map is displaying numeric values by zip code or county, displaying numeric zip code labels may create an incomprehensible map for your viewers. Too many numbers. Often a business map can be set to display a pop-up label upon mouse hover or click. Experiment with the different label options in your mapping software – large or small text sizes, various text-box color backgrounds, and text formatting options. Do you really need state labels to display?  Perhaps your map audience already knows the state names, for the most part? I know I do ( I know – Map Geek!) In general, keep the map simple.

Boundary Definition – Most business mapping software will allow adjustments to boundary lines. View your map carefully and choose appropriate line thicknesses and colors. Try different options to see what works best for your map. You may find in your industry, with your particular type of analysis, certain colors are expected or display data in away that rings truer with your map viewers.

Point Color Coding – Like boundaries, put some thought into how you color code points that you’ve imported. For instance, if I show a 7,000 location point hospital map, I typically make my points small and dark so the density of facilities by city is obvious. Should I label each point? Why would I do that? Only do it if you have to. Perhaps turning on just a few key regional point labels better communicates your map’s point.

My Busy Map
A cluttered map.

Most of the maps we make in our business work are not going viral like the Ben Carson map. But many of our maps are critical to our business processes. Think about your map presentation. As a business manager, you are always communicating with higher-ups, peers, or associates who work for you. Each of those audiences is looking for different map messages.

Management wants to see dollars, risks, and operational efficiencies – the high level business view. Avoid too many details. Steer clear from decimal points, extra map layers, and random data that invites criticism.

Your peers may be watching work flows carefully. Some peers will be looking to poke holes in your presentation (you know who they are.) Don’t give them easy errors to attack you with. It’s distracting for everyone and defeats the business purpose of your mapping efforts.

The people who work for you are looking for clear direction and leadership. Avoid mixed messages and map clutter. Turn off superfluous layers. Use multiple maps where operational issues pile up. Maps can be great tools for sharing progress associated with company goals and objectives.

Think it through, proof read your maps keep it simple and maybe you’ll be president someday.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Your Map Business Online XMas Stocking


I was looking for a light, Christmassy Map Business Online blog subject and remembered our Public Data folder. Think of it as your MBO XMas business mapping stocking.

You can access public data as you import or Plot data on the map.  When the dialogue box opens, instead of browsing for your own spreadsheet data, click the lower of the three options listed. Choose the option that reads: Select data you have already uploaded to server.  And in the drop down data folder presented there choose: Public Data

Now, cast your beady eyes down that list that displays below the drop down arrow. Look at all that data!  We’ve put crime stats in your XMas stocking!   Forget Leggos or a bicycle, Billy got murder rates by zip code for Christmas!  What a festive map program.

There is also basic data for cities and towns, public school locations, and places (another list of 26,000 plus towns with a category column.)  Use these datasets in your work.
Chicago
You’ll also see a complete update list of US Post Office zip codes.  The zips are categorized by zip code type. This comes in handy for assessing your zip code information. Remember zip codes can have boundaries or just be a point on the map.  This can have an impact on your sales territory development because point zip codes, while geocode-able will not create a territory.

So play with these data sets in Map Business Online.  Perhaps they can help your business analysis. Just remember a 1:00 PM we’re going to your grandmother’s house for dinner. And no, you can’t bring your laptop or Gameboy.  I need a drink.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Map Business Online.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Migrate from MapPoint to MapBusinessOnline

For a decade or more Microsoft MapPoint was a terrific business mapping tool. Since its cancellation in 2014, Map Business Online has picked up thousands of new customers. The early adopters and nervous nellies quickly moved from the MapPoint’s desktop platform to our web-based cloud service with no problems.  But there are still many cautious MapPoint users that are reticent about the transition and awaiting the perfect solution.

Microsoft really covered the waterfront with MapPoint.  They provided a comprehensive business mapping tool that offered territory creation, market analysis, optimized routing, plus API access for automating business processes using MapPoint output.

In many cases, replacement of MapPoint is going to require expensive software solutions. API’s driving automatic routing solutions will cost businesses more money and probably some development work. But for general business map users, MapPoint refugees should be able to find an affordable and comparable MapPoint replacement.

Quite a few of our 2015 MapPoint to MBO converts were large enterprises with multiple users accessing maps generated by MapPoint.  Map Business Online offers affordable options that ease the transition from the desktop applications like MapPoint, to a cloud service mapping solution.
Where Meet Lawyer
View Only or Edit Worthy?

Managers looking to source a MapPoint replacement should consider whether their user base requires a map view-only solution or the ability to edit and create maps for all or most of your user base. A Map view-only solution saves money and may provide all your busy users require.  Many call center companies share business maps as a visual resource used to manage customer problems.  For example, call center map users may look up the closest maintenance center or field technician by zip code. A cloud-based mapping service, like map Business Online, provides such easy lookups across a network of users for a nominal fee. Shared web-maps are much less costly than one hundred licenses of MapPoint.

A map view-only solution provides an interactive web-map that enables users to pan and zoom all over the world, click on map points to investigate pertinent location information, access a spreadsheet view of all imported data layers, and conduct geographic and filtering queries of map data layers. It’s quite powerful, and in Map Business Online, view-only maps include the ability to perform incremental routing.

The map view-only feature does not allow the map viewer to edit the map. IT planners and business managers can hold back on offering editing capabilities until they determine which map users really require map editing functionality. Spend some time determining who on your team is ‘edit worthy’ to make sure you’re not buying licenses for people who are intimidated by technology, don’t get maps, or just don’t have the time or inclination to create maps using business mapping software.

Conducting Sales Palnning

MapPoint was often applied to sales planning – daily or weekly analysis of target customers, route development and note taking. Optimized routing is a key sales planning tool. Used as a way to lower fuel costs while increasing productivity, optimized multi-stop routing can become the most important aspect of your sales planning map use. A view-only map might provide the customer and prospect lists your traveling or inside sales people require to do their jobs. They can drill into the data you’ve shared with them and run queries. If your business uses CRMs like ACT! and Salesforce.com there are Map Business Online integrations that support direct import and export of your CRM data.  MBO multi-stop optimized routing is available through the view-only application for as many as one hundred stops per route.

Strategic Planning

Most of the truly strategic business managers using MapPoint have already made the transition to alternative business mapping solutions. That’s because they are strategic and they understand how critical location-based analysis is to achieving business goals and objectives. For new business managers replacing a MapPoint license or too, transitioning to a web-based MapPoint alternative is a positive and affordable item on your 2016 to-do list.  It shows proactive thinking, an understanding of technology, and that you know how to get a bang for your business buck.

Take some time to view your customer address lists against demographic map views.  Think about setting up shared map editing teams to solve tough problems and drive sales territory accountability. Make business mapping part of your plan for 2016.

Collaborative Map Editing

With the advent of cloud computing, collaborative map editing becomes possible.  By allowing multiple users to share editing control of a shared business map, cross-department teams of managers and valued minds can be focused on solving difficult business problems. Here at Map Business Online we’ve seen an array of differing customer types set up map editing teams to address serious challenges within their businesses.  Challenges that include: managing and sharing accountable sales territories; sharing and querying complex market analysis; and even military spend auditing. There is a growing list of applications for shared map editing.

The old adage ‘two heads are better than one’ is what’s happening with collaborative map editing. It is the quintessential ‘no brainer.’

Here are the three steps to enterprise level business mapping success:

  1. Start applying business mapping tools to all of your strategic, marketing and business planning
  2. Begin sharing business maps with constituents as one way to communicate key business concepts
  3. Start solving business problems and improving processes through collaborative map editing teams

All of the general business process referenced above are actual examples of applications businesses have implemented after migrating to Map Business Online from Microsoft MapPoint.

It’s not too late for your team to make the transition to a web-based business mapping service. Be the hero; think strategically and geographically. Embrace technology, web-based services, and business mapping software.

 

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Premium Map Layers in Map Business Online

Map Business Online offers full-time subscribers a premium set of additional map layers. These additional layers are geographic map data options that were repeatedly requested  by the MBO user base.  To access these layers click the Blue Globe button, currently placed on the toolbar seven buttons in from the left. Select a layer and click Add to Map.

City Limits

My favorite premium layer is City Limits.  There is another city layer called Cities. We added Cities for people who require additional city names to display prominently on the map. Cities are points.  City Limits are the boundaried jurisdictions  associated with each city or town. With both city datasets you’ll expose more of them as your zoom in.

The City Limits data layer lets you edit the layer, as you would a zip code or state layer.  Simply hover over the layer in Map & Data and click the edit gear to edit line and color features or to change the labeling fonts, colors, and text.

City Limit geographies can be used as a base layer for sales territory mapping or creating areas of interest. This means you could establish territories by city limits as opposed to zip codes or counties. This can come in handy for businessmap users.  I also like turning on the city limits layer when trying to assess metropolitan areas form a nationwide zoom level.

And if you just want more city points, more than we offer with the Cities layer (they have specific display rules by zoom level), you can always import your own home-grown dataset of cities.  Be sure to include a state column in your imported city data because you never know how many Meridiths there are in the country.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas
MSA Map View
Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSA’s are Census Bureau defined metro areas. They can be used to define marketing areas of interest around an urban district largely to support market analysis.  You could build territories using these geographies as well.  Color coded, MSA’s create a striking map of the USA and can help get a viewer’s attention.  If you look online you can find conversion charts for creating similar marketing areas out of zip codes – like converting a list of zip codes into DMA’s. You would than simply import spreadsheet to convert zip codes to DMA’s.

Census Tracts

Census Tracts are also available in the MBO additional map layer offering. Accessed the same way, Census tracts can be used to create territories, and come in handing when defining busy areas of interest in heavily populated areas like downtown Manhattan or Chicago. In urban areas Census Tracts tend to be more granular than zip codes which makes them a nice alternative to zip code maps for describing business processes.  For rural areas Census tracts tend to mirror zip codes.

School Districts

For businesses doing a lot of work for schools we’ve also included school Districts. These could be helpful for transportation companies or service organizations catering to school districts. Once again, you can establish territories based on school districts. School districts are a nice back ground for a multi-stop route planner system supporting bus transportation.

Zip 3 code

Regular zip codes are made up of five digits. I grew up in 01966.  The three digit zip code associated with 01966 is 019.  Three digit zips cover a wider area then their subset five digit zip codes. Three digit zips can be a quick and dirty way to establish zip code territories that combine zips in an organized fashion. Direct mail folks like to monitor mail deliveries by 3 digit zip codes because USPS tends to deliver  to homes in 3 digit zip areas on the same day. I’m sure the Post Office has operational methods that are organized around three digit zips but that information is classified – which means I don’t really know for sure.

Cites and Highways

The city point layer and the highway line layer are included in premium layers largely to support additional referencing over territory maps. With these layers, if you color code in your states, counties or zip codes layers, instead of making those layers transparent to show orienting background map data, you can simply drop the highway layer on top of your area of interest map. It’s an option that can keep your map looking cleaner and more focused.

Request More Layers

The premium layer button is a reminder that we pay attention to user requests. Please hit the contact us button with layer requests, if you run across any.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Consider the Business Map

A business map extrapolates strategic intelligence from location-based business data. Often, the resulting maps are simply a business data visualization of customers, patients, donors, members – you decide – against a map.  This map visualization reveals patterns and trends in your business data otherwise invisible to human analysis. To get to the point where the business map user is able to view their data against a map involves much preparation on the part of the software provider and a little prep for the map user as well.

Business Maps Are An Amalgamation

Consider a business mapping application.  We usually see a business mapping software as a whole thing, but the tool is really made up of an array of component applications.

A basic and critical component for a business map is the base map.  The accurate background map is created by map data providers who collect and compile the geographic data in a variety of ways.  In some cases they drive the streets of the world taking pictures and collecting data that helps make the street topologies accurate, connected and informative.  These maps are formed by overlaying a variety of imagery and vector layers and then deciding how the layers and lines fit together and how they interact.  The zoom in and out capabilities of a web map are made possible by hierarchical databases that store certain information in certain data layers and serve them up to you the viewer, in just the right way and at just the right time. For instance, the map service makes sure the zip code labels display in an organized and uncluttered fashion no matter what zoom level you are at. Imagine what a USA map would look like if all the zip code labels were turned on at the nationwide view. Spoiler alert – it’s a wicked mess that’s barely readable.

Base maps cover a lot of ground – like, all of it – and base map data is always changing so updates are critical. MapPoint users know this only too well because Microsoft abandoned map updates years before they canceled their business mapping product and user started searching for a MapPoint replacement.  Street and highway data requires constant massaging so that the optimized routing functionality, often included in a business map, can function in a way that drives operational efficiencies.  One-ways and two-ways, bridges, turn restrictions, speed limits, and accurate road classifications all impact the ability of a vehicle routing tool to actually lower fuel costs or improve route times.

Over the base map layer business maps usually include administrative layers like zip codes, counties, cities and the like.  These administrative layers are often managed by third party data providers that assure accuracy and provide data feeds into your business mapping software.  One of the most common business mapping customer requests is for a zip code map.

Geocoding

What about the ability to place your spreadsheets on the map? The process of importing your location based data is called geocoding and it’s usually a web service provided by geocoding providers. Geocoding is what makes those visualizations of your business data so powerful by assuring accurate placement based on addressing or lat/lon coordinate placements. Geocoding services depend on constant data updates because addresses change, road names change, and new roads are always coming into being. Geocoding enables a map side data presentation in spreadsheet form, which can enable a variety of map filtering operations useful for data segmentation into usable chunks; for sales visits, marketing campaigns, and various types of business analysis.

Such services provide the basis for a working business map, but there’s so much more required to support effective map use. The application requires map file management tools, printing and sharing functionality, map symbology options so you can color code your data, a routing engine and a help library.  And never forget the value of drawing random shapes and objects on the map for territory development, area analysis, and data segmentation by geography.

Is It Easy-to-Use?

A business mapping application must combine all this functionality in such a way as to be relatively easy-to-use by the typical business person. And guess what?  Not everyone learns or uses the software in exactly the same way.  What is wicked-easy to most, may be brutally difficult for some users. And as it is with democracy, so it is with mapping tools, you simply can’t please everyone all the time. All business mapping software attempts to be easy-to-use. Some are better than others. It’s a personal preference thing, and a personal capability thing.  As with all things technical, patience helps. Take your time and use the help tools.

Bleeding Map View

Preparing Your Business Data

With your business map prepared and purchased, the business map user must also prepare. You should come to the business mapping application with an orderly dataset of business data.  It should reflect accurate addressing or lat/lon coordinates, but any location placement such as zip code or state centroid points will work. Your spreadsheet should be clean with no superfluous commentary or title info in sections above the data.  For best results, import only column headings and data to the mapping application.

Open Your Mind

You should bring both an open mind and a list of questions related to the geography of your business.  Questions like:

  • What is our current area of business operations or sales coverage?
  • What is the value of our sales when measured by territory or area of interest?
  • What’s your ratio of customers to sales people or patients to clinicians?

Or perhaps consider conducting an exercise like this:  Import your sales records to the map.  Color code zip codes to reflect Census median income levels by zip code. Determine your sweet spot for sales by median income per zip code. Now determine how many zip codes exist with your sweet spot median income value that show minimal or zero sales from your company. Ask yourself, “Why?” How can we grow sales in those sparse areas with high income?

Keeping an open mind allows the map visualizations to inform you in ways you might not expect. Imagine you came to your mapping session looking only for areas where you were selling less than or more than the competition. That’s a valid analysis. But if you have an open mind, you might notices areas where you and the competition are not selling at all.

Try a variety of approaches to building your business map:

  • View your business by zip code, county and Census tract. Which one best represents your business?
  • Perhaps a county or zip code based demographic analysis by commuter, renter, or occupation Census data might reveal something new about your business? Try different categories.
  • Do you subscribe to industry groups that might share or sell industry related location-based data? Get a sample of the data and import it into your map, sit back and think about what you see.

Business mapping applications were not developed overnight.  These map applications have undergone years of iterations and adjustments as location technologies have been developed since the 1980’s. Today they’ve become web-based and more affordable. Take the time to learn how to use your business map. Try different approaches. Explore various map backgrounds, demographic data categories, and geographic districts until you feel you understand your business more completely than you did before you used a business map.

Because considering a business map is really about considering your business and that deserves a considerable amount of consideration.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Map & Data Controls in MBO


Business Mapping Software for when you don’t have time to research Business Mapping Software.

Within Map Business Online many functions are controlled from our Map & Data box.  Map & Data is opened by clicking the light blue tab arrow that is located in the exact middle of the left hand side of your map view. Click this blue arrow tab and a light blue box opens up with map layers listed.

Map & Data includes a short tool bar along its top line. I usually keep my drop down tab set at Custom View, but you do have the option to quickly reset the map view by selecting the other listed options – like Satellite & streets view or Zip codes view. The overall short tool bar also includes an Edit Gear which lets you inside Map & Data map layers to edit your map view in a variety of ways, and this tool bar also includes the State Filter button to limit the view on the map by state.

Map Layer Controls

Map & Data is, in large part, a layer control tool. It controls the display of imported layers and the geographic district layers like zip codes and counties, that are embedded in the application. Here are some of Map & Data’s basic functions:

Delete imported data – go to Map & Data, hover your cursor pointer over the targeted imported dataset, click the Red Button that pops up to delete imported data.

Reorder imported data layers – grab an imported data layers with your cursor and move it up or down the list to reorder the data placement hierarchy on the map

Edit data layers – hover your cursor over the target geographic layer and click the Edit Gear to change line or fill colors, line thicknesses, label sizes, append data to district labels, pop-up labels or territory labels. Remember: the Edit Gear means you can edit things

Edit imported data labels – hover your cursor over the target imported data layer, click the Edit Gear and choose the Callouts tab. Reformat your callout data, adjusts fonts, open all callouts, adjust format sizes.

Edit imported data formats – hover your cursor over the target imported data layer, click the Edit Gear and choose the General tab.  Customize the dataset’s data properties by column, adjust symbols, update the dataset from a file.

Click that Edit Gear to Edit Stuff

In Map & Data click the Edit Gear on the overall short toolbar to access Territory Options and allow territory overlap or intersection. You can also adjust your Zip Code options which will enable Town, City or Placename labels in your Area of Interest data. USPS Zip codes with fillers will make it possible to shade none-zip code areas to match your zip code map territory assignments.
PT AOI Map
The overall Edit Gear will allow the same access to data layers as the Hover over a layer operation does. See the tab called Map & Data – here you’ll find all your map layers listed. Click in the corresponding light blue area to edit your target layer. This is simply another path to editing your map layers.

Under the Map Options tab you’ll find access to the various map background choices included with Map Business Online. You will also notice another button for accessing State filtering.  The Map Options tab also presents the Edit Legend button – this turns the legend back on when you’ve removed it from your overall map.  And the Map Options tab lets you Delete Drawings – circles, line objects, labels, rectangles, or drive time polygons you’ve created on the map.

The overall Edit Gear also directs you to the Territory Options Tab where you can click on sales territory transparency and allow territories to intersect or overlap.

Advanced Features In Map & Data

There are several rather advanced and very cool features in Map & Data.  They include appending data to map labels, building calculated data columns for data appending, and updating your imported data from your file.

 

Appending Data to the Map Label

Hover over any geographic map layer and click the Edit Gear. Now choose Labels and then Format labels. Here you can choose to add data to State, Zip Code or County labels. For instance you could append the count from your imported data into the Zip code label. Or you could append the population totals by county into the County label. This works in similar ways for appending data to pop-up (custom) labels. This is a great way to display sales results in territory labels on a sales territory map.

 

Building a Calculated Data Column

The calculated data column is used to combine separate but similar demographic data layers into one column. Hover over any geographic map layer and click the Edit Gear. Under General, choose Manage calculated data columns.  Add the column, and name it – “People 65 and up.” Now choose the various layers that make up ages 65 and up. Click Change data column. Using MBO as a demographic mapping software you should be able to access this data from territory analysis or summary data operations.

 

Edit Imported Data from File

Many users want to automatically update their data after importing it into Map Business Online. You can easily set this up if your data includes a column for Record ID or Unique ID.  These unique ID numbers could be CRM data record IDs, or account numbers.  They must be unique to control the data updates in MBO.  As you import your data Choose the Unique ID column on the second dialogue page of your import.  Later, when you want to update your data, go to Map & Data and hover over your target imported data layer. You guessed it, click the Edit Gear. Choose Update Data from File or Refresh Dataset.  Either way you should be notified of how many records change, and whether they we added or deleted.

 

Print this blog out and tape it to your bathroom mirror at home so you can read it as your brush your teeth. it is that important. Seriously, MBO users should consider creating a test map, open up Map & Data and try many of these features to help you become more familiar with the tool.

 

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Some Personal Benefits of Business Mapping

On this blog and in our marketing content we talk a lot about the business features and benefits that Map Business Online users experience.  We assure you how easy the product is to use, how our sales territory maps drive accountability, and that our maps and demographic data are up-to-date. These are all great business benefits for you, the user.  But some users actually derive personal benefits through the use of business mapping software such as Map Business Online.

You’re A Techie – Like It or Not

For me using business mapping software has helped me become more comfortable with technology overall. I have become much more fluent with tools like Microsoft Excel, and other database management services including CRM tools. Importing data into a mapping application is typically pretty straight forward, but at times one must deal with curve balls, like opening up exported CRM data from one field to many fields, or converting latitude and longitude coordinates from degrees, minutes, seconds, format to signed degrees format

Utilizing “cloud based services” in general has become old hat for me now. I remember when I first heard the term ‘The Cloud’ a decade or more ago at an esri conference, the term sounded like a mysterious new world. It turned out to be simply another phrase for web-based. This is similar to the term the Internet of things (IoT), which simply refers to the fact that lots of devices and machines are connected to the Internet these days.  Who comes up with these names?

Map Geeks Rule

There are still many offices where business maps are not used but should be. Mapping enthusiasts should look for opportunities to use business maps in such places. Successfully applying technology in new and surprising ways lets you stand out from the pack. Take the initiative and be the one who shows up at the meeting with business mapping slides that display some of the meeting subject matter against a map. Pretty soon the boss will be calling you in to design maps for his expansion plans.  “Get that map geek Allison in here to put a map together for me, see,” the boss will say in his gravelly voice. “That doll face is a map genius.”  The boss is old school, evidently.
Stand Out Map
Becoming familiar with business mapping capabilities means you’ll be learning about detailed aspects of your business.  While you may still be answering the phone when a new call comes in, perhaps you’ll be the one helping to establish territories for the entire organization. By working hands-on with territory management you’ll come to understand company goals and objectives.  The various business channels your company sells through will become crystal clear to you as you apply business maps to representing sales by location. Territory creation is a desirable skill and should be listed on your resume or on LinkedIn.

Maps Are Fun

Come on, what’s not fun about maps? Maps relate to places on Earth. Using an online map tool is a little like traveling while remaining seated at your desk. Maps can be colorful.  You can design your own color code schemes by a variety of geographic segments and layers.  You get to overlay your own business data, which is always interesting. Every time you use a business map you learn a little something new.

Think of the layers you get to use – zip codes, counties, satellite imagery, and topographic views. I know if I was a private detective (a job I could see myself doing someday) I’d be using business mapping tools all the time. You could discretely follow a target, and track all his stops on your business map. You never know what a tracking pattern might reveal. Maybe you’ll get the big payday like Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon, or maybe you better watch your nose like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown.

Regardless of how your case turns out, business maps can help you visualize more about your personal world than you thought possible. Demographic views can help with your volunteer work just like it does for business. And it your thinking of buying a new house, what better place to keep track of all those open houses you’ve attended then a business map.

Around home I’ll use Map Business Online to plan hiking trips.  We live in Maine so hiking is often on the weekend agenda. MBO provides street map views, two topographic map views (merged Topo Quads and National Geographic maps), and a satellite/aerial imagery view. Using all five of these layers can be helpful in determining which trials are still active, distances you may have to bush whack, or how steep the terrain is going to be where you plan to picnic.  Kayak drop-offs and pick-up points are easily planned based on a business map’s details.

As weekend a musician, I used Map Business Online to map out all of the potential gig locations in the Southern Maine area. I could classify the venue location points on the map by capacity or perhaps color code the venues by musical interest – dance music, jazz originals, Lawrence Welk covers.

Whatever your personal activities are, I bet you can find ways to apply a business map towards their greater enjoyment. I was going to create a map showing all the locations where I’ve been pulled over by the cops, but the mappoint limit is 100,000 locations per map. For additional business and recreational map use ideas be sure to check out the map Business Online map gallery. https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Map-Gallery.aspx

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Business Mapping Software for Small Businesses

Small businesses require their employees to wear many hats. Many hat syndrome is both part of the fun and part of the pain of running a small business. A small business is not likely to have excess money on hand to cover the costs of big mistakes. Start-ups and small businesses run lean and mean to survive and grow. They must be cost conscious and wary of over-reach. Many small businesses contact Map Business Online to explore the power of location enabled views of their business data.

Business Mapping is Affordable
One simple reason for this interest is that business mapping software is extremely affordable.  A single subscriber can access customer visualization or market analysis tools for less than $300 and begin to supplement operational work flows with mapping software while planning sales and marketing campaigns based on location analysis.

A small business, highly dependent on local customers, stands to benefit greatly from local market analysis based on zip codes, counties or even Census tracts.  These smaller geographic districts provide segmented views of sales and marketing results adding location-based analysis results to strategic planning. Zip code maps and Census tract maps easily correlate your business data with population or house hold income statistics. For instance, a small home care agency might overlay its existing patient census along with the local population of 65 year-olds and older on top of your operating zip codes.  Such correlation can help define market potential, perhaps even map out-patient census growth over a three years period. Now they can answer the question: are these key population groups rising or falling in our market area? Do we need more staff or less for 2016? Demographic maps add new dimensions to your small business analysis.

Because small businesses have limited budgets, ERP and CRM systems may be planned future investment while immediate customer tracking is maintained in Microsoft Excel or some other low-cost database management tool. Business mapping tools are a great supplement for basic business tracking systems. A simple address database exported to a digital map software turns an Excel customer list into an array of points viewed against a map, color coded by customer type.  Monthly sales by customer can be aggregated map-side into quarterly results by sales territory. Such business maps easily provide shared views on how sales efforts are progressing, while suggesting new prospecting areas for potential sales in the next quarter and beyond.  You know what question this helps to answer: How are we going to double sales in twelve months? Every sales manager’s favorite question.

Business Mapping is Easy
That small biz multi-hat requirement leaves little time for in-depth market analysis. By exporting your address enabled business data to an accurate business map your usual business analysis and strategic plans can quickly take shape on the fly. A revenue dollars by location spreadsheet, in a few easy steps, becomes a regional heat map view of sales that immediately shows your team where and how things are happening.

Business maps add credibility to a small or large business manager’s sales plan. It’s one thing to purchase a list of names and direct the sales team to start dialing for dollars.  [Idea for future blog title: Cold Calling: Dead or Alive?] But it’s an entirely more credible approach to initiate a prospecting campaign based on demographic analysis of an unassigned market area that happens to coincide with an up-tick in inquiries your team has reported. This is sales leadership. It’s the difference between a room full of hourly employees dutifully dialing a call-list while watching the clock, and a motivated sales team exploring a hot list of leads based on pertinent field data they helped uncover. Which team would you rather be on?

Some companies use business mapping software to analyze daily or weekly operational results. This could apply to shipping results, sales call results, or product output. All your data requires to be an effective source to location-based analysis are locations – addresses, zip codes, lat-lons – whatever works.  Display the manufacturing location. Show ship-to addresses and your ship-from locations.  You can add all the additional data you want. It should only enhance your business map’s effectiveness.

Import Your Location Based Business Data
One of the greatest challenges a small business faces is defining its primary reason for being.  I’m not suggesting business mapping software can solve this challenge, but it can be a part of the solution. Sometimes a business knows exactly what its primary purpose is. For example, a business that produces and sells Maine made whoopee pies is focused on just that product.  Managers for Maine Whoopee Pies LLC might simply concentrate on producing more efficiently and selling to more stores and restaurants.
Tenant Locations
Maine’s Best Bakery (MBB) on the other hand might not be so clear on purpose.  This company offers a broader selection of baked goods. They cater to a half-dozen niche markets, each demanding a unique product.  At some point the diversification begins to drive up raw material costs and create inefficiencies in production.  Time for a strategic review of sales history to determine the most profitable products and markets.  A business mapping tool can quickly establish basic facts that can inform strategic MBB’s business analysis:

  • Import a dataset showing where MBB products are sold and color code  the data to display net revenue, and profit margin by location for 2015. Make note of the three most profitable sales locations.
  • Develop cost of delivery estimates for each sale based on a standard cost per mile calculation
  • Add demographic data to your map view, including population and median income by zip code, for five-mile radii surrounding each sales location
  • Import an additional data layer showing MBB’s known baking competitors in all of the business’ operating areas and beyond

It’s important to understand your business’ operating area by profitability, costs of goods sold, and competitor presence.  Adding  a demographic layer to your map extends your operating area potential; it let’s you view similar demographic areas where you may not currently play. Perhaps sharing a similar business map slides of your company’s operating areas might inspire some interesting strategic discussion amongst your key people?

Wearing many hats may include a white chef’s hat, a hair net, or a strategic planner’s green visor cap. It’s all part of the thrill of life in a small business.  No matter what your hat says think business mapping software to afford-ably supplement your business processes and add that certain ‘je ne c’est quoi’ to your whoopee pie.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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