Map Business Online Blog

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

It’s Finally Summer – Let’s Turn Up the Heat Map!

Right in the middle of your Map Business Online tool bar is a Heat Map button. Look for the bull’s eye icon with a bright orange center.

Heat maps express numerical values though the presentation of graduated coloring – typically three colors – across a series of location points. Sales values, population values, almost any numerical value can lend itself to heat map representation.

A heat map suggests that an area of the map is associated with more activity or volume than other areas of the map. It shows your audience areas of general activity that gradually increase to definitive hot spots, all based on you data. The color gradation of a heat map can be adjusted to reflect cold to hot gradations noted as blue to red colors, or hot to cold gradations noted as red to blue colors. Other color schemes can typically be applied at the user’s designation. The actual radius of heat around a point can be adjusted adding more or less color to your point arrays.
Heat maps provide nice flare for your map. For instance, adding year-end sales numbers to a business map that displays territories can provide a vibrant display of activity on top of a relatively tame map describing territory boundaries and customer locations. It’s the difference between a national weather map describing fair weather and one describing the summer’s most active tornado watches.

Other possible heat map applications could be:
• Heat map all of your Twitter or Facebook followers
• Heat map restaurant rankings by city or neighborhood
• Heat map home prices or apartment rental rates by city
• Heat map your customers and prospects
• Heat map all the retail stores that carry your favorite hot sauces, by hotness

I think you get the picture. Wake up you mapping audience by introducing them to a heat map view of your business data. America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

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What Are Best Practices to Benefit from Business Mapping Software?

This is a common situation. Your company has done well using its current work flows. You may or may not have a CRM in use. Or perhaps you’re a QuickBooks accounting user? You may use Excel spreadsheets to manage contacts, sales commissions, and practically everything in your business. Or your company may be an Oracle or SAP client. No matter the situation, you’ve discovered that viewing and managing your business data geographically provides a huge up-side. So what do you and your managers have to do differently to extract the most benefit from business mapping software? What are location intelligence software best practices for basic business users?

Breathe easy. You may not have to change much at all.

Be Intelligent About Location Intelligence
First of all, let’s put mapping software into perspective. Digital maps cover a lot of waterfront in the software world. Our most advanced government agencies use digital mapping software tools like Esri and other products to conduct military situation analysis, and space exploration. Across industry verticals like public safety, scientific analysis, and energy exploration companies have invested millions of dollars in Geographic Information System (GIS) and location intelligence (LI) software to manage their location data. But no matter the acronym, your business just needs a few basic mapping features to help it better visualize its customers; to discern patterns and to assign accountability based on its location data.

Location Intelligence expert Joe Francica recently analyzed study results from Gartner and Ventana Research that took a peek at how location analytics is applied to businesses today. Find Joe’s article here: What I found to be most interesting about these studies were two things:
1. Most businesses are using Excel spreadsheets to manage their location data – you are not alone.
2. When location intelligence software was appropriately matched to the business use case, users were very satisfied with the results – they got clear benefit from using mapping software

What this means to businesses that are new to business mapping software is that you are on the cusp of gaining a whole new perspective on your business, and you should take it one step at a time.

There’s no need for you to have HR hire a team of rocker scientists or to force your admins to start using slide rules. Take it slow. Business mapping software is a great place to start.

Spreadsheet It
Location data is just that – your business customers, prospects, or competitors by location. Like most companies, your business uses spreadsheets. That’s where you should start. Whether you pull customer data from a CRM system like or Oracle, or you have semi-retired Milly the lifer track it manually, just find that location data and pull it into spreadsheet format. Use a column for each data component: name, street, city, zip. (Some legacy systems export all the data into one record. Use Excel tools to extract it into columns.)

That’s it. You just leveled the playing field. Now import this data into your business mapping software and view it geographically. Your business mapping software will let you conduct some basic analysis of that data. Spatial analysis used to be restricted to GIS functionality but now business mapping tools include basic analysis for your work flow:
• Conduct radius searches at varying radii – 10 miles, 30 miles, 100 miles
• View your data against zip codes, counties or other administrative districts
• Create drive time polygons around store or event locations – 30 minutes, 60 minutes
• View your business data against demographic data – population, gender, income, age
• Compare store data to customer data to consider proximities and distances
• Create sales territories that reflect and measure company sales objectives
• Have fun experimenting with your business data & map views

The Power of Address
I often hear new business mapping users or map trialers describe their business data as zip code data. They have all their customer data stored by zip code, not address. My advice: where ever possible use full addresses. Sure, business mapping software will locate the zip code data but then you’ve got multiple customer records located on one point in the middle of a zip code. Your data is much more valuable visually if you break it out by address. Or use latitude/longitude points, if that’s what you got.

With fully addressed data points, routing tools are able to accurately access mileages and times. Proximity assessments to stores and events are far more accurate. And drive time analysis has more meaning. Make sure your work flow supports using full addresses.

Territory Management & Overlap
Sales territory management visualizations can help all sales organizations drive accountability into their work flows. Franchise orgs use the same tools to set up areas of sales ownership. All sales teams using territory management tools should consider how you want to handle sales overlap.

Sales overlap is a fact of life. You either want it or you don’t, but it will happen. “Jenny you are responsible for every account in your territory except Scott Paper which has been the bosses account since he was fresh out of college.” So either you allow sales overlap or you don’t, but your mapping software should help you display overlap so you can act accordingly.

Use Multiple Maps
Some companies get so excited when they discover the power of business maps. The boss asks the map administrator to import every possible business data onto one map of the USA so they can view everything all at once. As powerful as that image may be, all those symbols and labels everywhere, one should consider limiting the use of a particular map to one or two subjects at a time. Create a map for sale planning, and another for marketing. Use one map for revenue analysis and another for territory management. These may be times when you mix map views, but in general you should avoid map clutter and trying to solve too many problems with one map. God gave us multiple map views – so use them!

Lastly, after you’ve derived some benefit from a business mapping solution think about your business and mapping future. Maybe you haven’t even scratched the surface on how much power you could derive from mapping software. Perhaps your organization and your industry could benefit from an even more advanced use of mapping tools like GIS or advanced Location Intelligence software. By all means, explore those options. The location analytics world is your oyster and you should take whatever advantage you can from it, using organized and fully addressed data. America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Have You Added City Limits to Your Map?

Last month we added four new administrative district layers to our business mapping software. They include Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Zip 3, City Limits, and Census Tracts. These are now usable within the map view next to standard 5 digit Zip Code, County, and State layers. Of the new layers added, I really like the city limits layer.

City limits really means town and city boundaries. The city boundaries layer adds an appropriate business focus to your map’s general business purpose. Zip codes and counties work great for demographic studies, sales assessment, territory mapping and such, but when you add city areas to your map there is a visual component that your audience relates to both in terms of familiar geography, and in terms of demographic reality. Cook county zips are one thing and extremely valuable, but a clear view of the city limits surrounding Chicago, color-coded for demography, can really expand situational awareness, depending of course upon the situation.

Sales Orgs & City Limits
Sales and franchise organizations that arrange territory responsibility by zip code may find the addition of city limits to be a fine way to prioritize sales focus; a way to not ‘sweat the small stuff.’ Map users can color code city limits across the nation by population and deliberately leave out city limits containing less than 5000 people. This exercise keeps the sales team focused on the right areas of interest. Save this map view as a reference map in your work flow. If a new agency has interest in a metro area, using your mouse to fly to that area and assess its relationship to surrounding cities. Make that visual assessment part of your business work flow.

City Limits in Sales Planning
Color coding city limits could offer a sales road warrior a way to organize their monthly trips around their territory. While zip codes remain the territory segment of choice, the city limits could be divided into five sections and color coded to reflect the day of the week or month that you travel there. Prospecting or selling by metro-zone might prove to be an efficient way to run your territory. And it never hurts to import a list of your favorite (or your customer’s favorite) restaurants either. Saved search idea: “All Denny’s locations within 15 miles of Dorothy’s office.” CRM note: Dorothy likes the Grand Slamwich®.

Sales Territory Planning & City Limits
Sometimes new business mapping users, tasked with building a nationwide territory scheme come to me overwhelmed by the prospect. “I have 1700 territories to build and I don’t know where to start,” I heard recently. The addition of a city limit layer, with or without demography, can lend just the right amount of organization to a new territory project.
Not everyone has a visual sense of where cities are. Hard to believe, I know, but true. So when a boss rattles off priorities like Cook County, Maricopa County, and Harris County, as she rushes off to a meeting, the map administrator can start with a city limit view of the USA and do a few quick look ups that connect those county names to Chicago, Phoenix, and Houston. Once a user creates one or two territories in a major metropolitan area, the rest follow an easy pattern.

So consider making that city limit map of the USA color coded by population or median income and keeping that map view for reference purposes. As new territories or franchise regions are considered, such a map just might be a great starting point. Pick the city in question and do some viewing.

Health Care & City Limits
Home health care and hospice coverage areas are very often represented by zip codes. Zip codes will contain varying populations of elderly that can be correlated to clinician territory assignments. These geographic assignments are often capacity matches of clinicians with elderly population segments and tend to involve no small amount of fanagling to make the day-to-day schedules happen efficiently. City limits add familiar areas of interest for driving clinicians and schedulers to consider in their day-to-day planning activities. Sometimes splitting city limits in half based on major highway bi-sections or while triaging an area during a flu epidemic can help manage your crisis of the week?

Focus in on those city limits, print a wall map for planning purposes, assign a SWAT team until the crisis is passed. Make your map points. Use the city limits layer to add orientation labels, to provide familiar boundaries, and to describe critical areas.

So be sure to use city boundaries to enhance your map business, no mater what business or area you live in. America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Can GPS Help Determine Your Ancestral Background?

The answer is it can when GPS stands for Geographic Population Structure tool. Scientists at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences and the University of Southern California have developed a DNA analysis system that can trace your origins geographically, back one thousand years. Apparently, the test results are accurate to the nearest town or village, as the case may be. See article in Nature Communications.

Over the last five years or so, saliva swab genetic tests that analyze human DNA have become commercially available. See My wife and her sisters took this test. People pay for these genetic tests in part to expose the genetic risks associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other maladies that have hereditary links. Armed with the information that Alzheimer’s disease is a likely scenario for them, a person could make some major lifestyle adjustments to accommodate possible future developments. For instance, based on test results a person might not move to a new state in their sixties (as might have been planned) which could introduce unfamiliar spatial patterns, confusion, increased anxiety, and accident risk. These are real concerns for families with a history of Alzheimer’s.

Genetic swab testing also happens to be how I learned my wife is 7% Neanderthal. At first I thought this explained a lot, but I’ve since learned that most of us have a good chunk of Neanderthal tattooed into our DNA strands. A Neander-stamp, if you will? Does this explain our USA family obligation to go camping, usually on rainy bug infested summer weekends? The test did indeed confirm my wife’s general ancestral geography as Western Europe which, though not very accurate, does roughly describe where the Neanderthals spent their quality hunting time. This also roughly corresponds with my wife’s family’s European vacation itinerary in the mid 1970’s. No further comment.

Evidently tracing your ancestry is one of today’s most popular pastimes. It’s a sort of time travel geocache, finding you ancestral stomping grounds through GPS. Years ago, my Dad was able to trace our ‘Ives’ ancestry back to a dude in Tinchebray, Normandy in France. This early Ives served under William the Duke of Normandy during the 1066 invasion of England, as a royal cup-bearer. See the Driver Family. Later the family fell out of favor having backed Robert, the Duke of Normandy in a losing ordeal.

Clearly we Ives are of Norman descent, so taking my genes even further back should lead geographically to Norway or Denmark. This may explain why Maine is a comfortable living place for me, and why I went to a high school where the sports teams where all called The Vikings. You just can’t shake that Norman thing. I probably test well for Seasonal Affect Disorder too.

Still, I find the Geographic Population Structure tool to be fascinating. Perhaps it will spawn its own array of PND’s – Progenitor Navigation Devices? We could get inside the device and travel back in time to the very places where our ancestors dwelled. Just key in the year, swab your saliva and bam! You’re at 30 times great-grandpa’s old homestead during the dark ages. Added features could include traffic and road conditions along the many dirt roads you’ll travel; “A” listed peasant homes you could couch surf at (probably more like “pile-of-hay in-the-middle-of-the-hut surfing”); and popular vermin to avoid.

Of course, there would be those naïve and technically challenged (notice I didn’t say older) PND time travelers who would just let the device think for them, “They didn’t notice the year was set to a way-back pre-historic age. It took them all the way back to the dinosaurs. You should have heard the screaming. We had to have “Big” Tim from IT go bring them back. He gets overtime for that!”

I’ll be careful with my settings. The Neanderthals might not be so welcoming either. Maybe I’ll have my wife go first? Or just stick with the more common GPS and PND devices for a while longer, until they get the time-travel bugs worked out. America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

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