Map Business Online Blog

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

Search and Segment Your Business Data

A business mapping software is designed to support business users in many ways. One way is for segmenting and searching the user’s business data.
To begin with, import your data. We’ve talked about this before. Import a spreadsheet of location-based data – addresses of your customers, prospects, pharmacies, movie theaters, or polish meats retailers. Whatever data you got, pull it in and create that data visualization.

Consider the Query
With your data now displayed, symbolized, and color coded on a map (see previous weeks blog posts) you can now consider querying or searching for specific subsets of your data. Think about how you want to segment data. Do you want to query a list of zip codes or query your imported data? How about a 25 mile radius from zip code central – you designate the point? Or maybe you just want to see all points on the map that contain the word “furball” in the name. Regardless of what you want, you can perform a variety of data queries using business mapping software.

For instance, if you’ve imported a list of all the active bowling allies across the USA you can then break them into bowling alley regions by creating territories on the map. If you have a type column in your data you can color-code those bowling allies by big ball or small ball, or maybe by foot waitress or roller skate waitress. You could then look at all the bowling allies in the North East territory – just to pick a region in your territory mapping.

After querying by territory you will have a saved file of just the North East region. You can now view a map of just those NE bowling allies. Using filtering tools you can segment that list further by filtering by state, county, or zip code. Here you are simply selecting the zip code column and looking for all records within the zip code XXXXX. In fact, you should be able to filter based on any column in your imported data. With our application you can set up multiple filters with modifiers. This means you can perform greater than (>) and less than (<) filtering for numeric ranges of data. You could also conduct a ‘contains’ query, like “Find me all the CNA’s in my coverage area that contain the names ‘Jane’ and ‘Mike’.”

Radius & Polygon
By choosing radius or circle searches you can simply click a point on the map and drag out a distance. This converts to a circle and allows you to query the imported data or zip code layer within that circle. Now you can save that dataset for sales planning and routing purposes or for marketing list development. We get more requests for radius searches of zip codes than any other feature. Yes, you can easily search for all the zip codes within 50 miles of a point or address on the map, and then export that list of zip codes. It is wicked easy.

Try a polygon tool search too. In addition to creating territories, this tool is great because it lets you choose a specific shape to query. Perhaps you are a sales road warrior and you’ve imported a list of all the prospects in your territory. You can use the polygon tool to draw a rectangle around your planned street route for this week exposing all of the prospects located along your path of your planned sales trip. Export that list out to SalesForce.com and create a campaign with it. No excuses now!

Drive Time Too!
Also included in search tool options is drive time. You can use the drive time tool to display a jagged polygon that represents the drivable area surrounding a point that can be reached within X minutes of time. This calculation is based on the map street data – turn restrictions, one-ways/two-ways, speed limits and other critical drive time components – within the mapping application. The resulting polygons created can be used to query imported business data or administrative districts. So you can answer the question, “Which zip codes exist within 30 minutes’ drive time of my store location?”

Query results from business mapping applications can be exported from the map tool for use in third-party applications like CRM, scheduling, or other tools. You can also re-import a list segment for further symbolization or to create new map views.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

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Compare Multiple Data Sets Using Business Mapping Software

In business, and in life I suppose, sometimes it helps to compare two completely separate datasets. One spreadsheet might be made up of store locations and the other might be a list of customers with addresses. Or one might represent medical facility locations and the other might be patient zip codes. Or perhaps one spreadsheet lists shipping locations and the other lists shipping destinations. Regardless of what you have to compare, you may run across the need to compare two datasets.

Some business mapping software can be used to accomplish dataset comparisons. Because business mapping software is geographic by nature, the results of these comparison queries are usually related to geography in some way. Results might provide the quantity of target customer records that exist within specific radii distances of a list of store addresses or specific service locations. Another result might be the distances between one set of points and all points in a second dataset.

Sometimes you might not know what you are looking for but it might help to view one dataset against another and see what shows up. Often just the data visualization of two or three datasets opens up new business discussions. Strategy is informed by geography. Generals Lee and Jackson made much good use of the rivers and mountains they discerned on a map. Geographic views can also be enlightening because they expose patterns in data that you might not have expected. For example:

• The business you work for plans to build five stores at specific locations in the Southern California area. You’ve acquired a list of customer prospects with home addresses in the vicinity of your store locations. You want to determine how many of those prospects live within 20 miles of each store location.

• You manage school transportation for a suburban New England school district with three school locations. You’ve used your mapping application to create a list of zip codes covering all your students’ home locations. These zip code centroid points represent drop-off and pick-up locations. You want your map with zip codes to generate a list of the distances from all three of your school locations to all of the zip code pick-up locations in your list.

• You’re a divorced, single, aging, male hipster (age 55) and you need to compare a list of your ex’s bffs home locations with a list of singles mixer events happening next week within 50 miles of your new bachelor pad. The results will show where you are most likely able to date again or if you need to expand your net. A third dataset depicting emergency room locations in the overall area could also be helpful.

As you can see, comparing multiple datasets within business mapping software can provide a whole new perspective on your business or your personal “situation.”

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Color Coding Your Data by Administrative District

A few weeks ago we talked about using your business mapping software to symbolize and color code imported business data. This was accomplished using address points on a map and symbology tools. You can also color code your imported business data by administrative district.

Administrative districts are included as map layers in Map Business Online. The administrative district map layer options are: 5 digit zip code, 3 digit zip code, county, state, city limit, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and Census Tract. Any of these districts support color coding by your imported data, or color coding by census demographics, included with the program.

Color Your Data by District
You might be a sales organization or you might be a delivery company. Either way you could find value in color coding your data by district. For this exercise let’s use the county layer as our administrative district. You’ve imported your business data as map points but it doesn’t quite fit the map you had in mind. First, turn off your imported point layer.

By clicking on the three puzzle-piece icon on the master Tool Bar you can select your data and the column in your data to color code by. You should notice a few extra options in the data column selector:

• You can choose to color code by data count – pick “Count” to do this. This will show you the number of records in each county. Choose your range of colors – do you want just 2 colors or many colors? For instance, pick a range of 3 colors to represent how many records per county might show – 1 to 5 records (blue), 6 to 10 records (green), and 11 to 25 records (red). The legend will explain the color number sequence to your map audience. When you hover over the district a Call-Out label pops up and displays the actual count. Keep in mind, MBO will count records for you. There may still be reasons to include a count column in your data, but you don’t have to.

• You can choose to “Average” or “Total” a numeric value column like sales dollars, or delivery stops. Proceed as above to select a range of color shades and the numeric breakdown for the gradations of data. This means you can import all sales in a state and show sales volume in dollars by county. And this could be applied to any district segment you choose – zip, state, etc.

Sales Results by District
I like using color code by state or county to display sales numbers. It’s a quick way to communicate what’s happening by geographic area at a high level. Your audience will see the colors you’ve chosen and they’ll glance at the legend to confirm how the dollars volume ranges are applied.

Even better, with business mapping software you can add data from your spread sheet to the district label or call out. You can even plot data points from your spreadsheet to your territory names. How cool is that? It means you can use those same Count, Total, and Average functions to display results at the end of the quarter or whatever period your company likes to focus on.

For example, each month you create a map that displays sales results by salesperson. Within the map layer that corresponds to your territory (zip code, county, etc.) you can choose to add Sales Totals to the territory call out. Now your map displays territories, territory names, perhaps some customer data points, and the sales results for your company’s latest measurement period. You could even layer-in actual sales points as a heat map to liven things up.

Demographic Layers
Color coding by administrative district can be used to add demographic frames of reference to your business map. Turn on the city limit layer and color code those districts by population or income. In consumer, medical or government related businesses, city limit demographics adds a level of understanding to a business map. You can display where you’re doing business and understand why on a fundamental level; it’s where the people and the money are. You can also quickly see where you are not doing business and where a significant amount of people maybe missing out on your product or service.

Color coding your business data by administrative district provides a fresh perspective on your organization’s areas of influence. By mixing up color coding options, displaying your data by point, by district, by heat-map or by varying circle, you can highlight various aspects and trends in your business data. Get creative with your business mapping tools. Wake up your audience while keeping the map simple. Pretty soon you’ll be top dog, in the map department anyway.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Specific Customer Value and Location Awareness

Companies like Esri and Google reach a large audience of customers and potential customers with their compelling Geographic Information System (GIS) and Location Intelligence (LI) marketing messages. But not every business in the USA is ready to hear these messages. For reasons that include out-of-reach investment requirements, technology intimidation, and competing software priorities, many companies press on, year after year, without the benefit of location analysis tools. And still more companies remain simply unaware that location intelligence or business mapping software even exist.

I speak with many businesses new to business mapping software whose requirements can suddenly veer from basic business mapping into the realm of full GIS. Often these companies have no idea what GIS or location intelligence means. If I bring up GIS/LI it can become a distraction to the sales process. A customer new to mapping software is often very busy just getting through their day. To start exploring a whole new technology can be overwhelming – even a non-starter. So I try to take it slow. “Baby steps,” to quote Bob (see movie What About Bob.) After all, Rome’s municipal GIS infrastructure wasn’t built in a day.

Location Awareness in the Backseat
It is accepted that most companies use spreadsheet software to manage many aspects of their business. Location aware spreadsheets are, in my opinion, a natural next step. By simply adding address columns to a database of customers your spreadsheet becomes location enabled. Map data visualizations are in this fashion the gateway to unlocking the power of location intelligence. So what is it that stops many small companies from further exploring the power of location intelligence? Why do so many businesses not bother to include address, city and zip code in their customer data?

Put yourself in an up and coming medical clinic. You’re the new team manager there. Turnover is brisk. Your objectives, as described by your supervisor, are many and could include:
• Completion of the transition preparations for ICD-10 records coding
• Final implementation of new, web-based, medical records software
• Compliance with all Affordable Care Act requirements such as monitoring Meaningful Use measurements and or developing ACO relationships
• Supporting all medical staff through regularly occurring emergencies as required
• Driving better operational efficiencies into the business:
o Reducing overtime man hours
o Reducing fuel reimbursement totals for field work

You have a big job on your hands and in walks a location-based software sales person. The technology opportunities available to clinical managers today are mind-boggling. How does a medical agency IT director or a clinical manager know where to start? Business mapping software or GIS software could help with any number of the objectives noted above. Driving down fuel costs and improving mobile clinician productivity are proven benefits from the implementation of optimized routing and scheduling systems, and every company can use location enabled sales and marketing tools. But how would these new software services integrate with the medical records implementation? Which service has budgetary priority, training priority, or deserves more real-estate on mobile devices? Will the clinicians even use the software? They’re still struggling with the medical records rollout and the last thing they want is more software. And wait, you’re getting paged to assist with an incoming heart attack patient. Catch you on the flip-side.

There are always lots of distractions. Implementing business mapping software in a busy business, such as the one described above can be a long shot. Payback needs to be big and fast, while implementation and training need to be dirt-simple otherwise location intelligence looks overwhelming and overvalued.

And medical businesses are not the exception. They may have more emergencies for sure, but any business today can be short-handed, budget strapped, overloaded with technology while ironically in dire need of the benefits of location analysis.

And to get back to that issue of addresses in customer data, many companies use antiquated legacy systems that either do not export lists with addresses or “the person who used to know how to do that, no longer works here.”

So what’s the answer? How do location intelligence evangelists make it more of a no-brainer for non-mapping professionals to see the value in location intelligence?

Baby Steps to Specific Customer Value
The sales message has to be focused on specific customer requirements. A banker needs to understand that map visualizations will drive up her loan revenues, or expose risky investments early on. A police chief must know his maps will be quickly constructed and communicate critical details when shared during a crisis. A sales team needs to know territory mapping drives accountability, and sales planning mapping tools make sales trips more efficient and more productive, helping them to achieve their goals.

I look at location-based software services as a continuum – from basic to very advanced. The work that needs to be done is moving businesses from no mapping services to the point on the continuum that makes the most sense for their particular business and their particular needs. The mapping services sales message has got to address each industry’s specific need and have direct impact on what they perceive as valuable. Just promising to expose trends, visualize data, and improve efficiencies won’t cut it. It must connect with their specific values.

Some companies are already seeking more advanced solutions when you call them. They get the value, even without your carefully honed pitch. Other companies require very little encouragement – quick customer location visualization, their world gets rocked and they are on board with business mapping. But there are many companies mired in their particular business paradigm, too distracted to grasp the value of a new technical tool.

We know that location intelligence exposes trends. Our retail client needs to know that trend means there are 40% more customers within a 25 minute drive time of their planned store location.

We know the tools can drive down fuel costs. Our home care client needs to know fuel costs will be reduced without a loss of productivity due to a heavy software learning curve.

You can move that stuck customer from overwhelmed to location aware; from a plain list of customer names to a compelling map of customer densities by county with demographics. The journey is not far if you take baby steps and connect your application with specific customer value.

Practice by convincing someone over the age of seventy to start using Twitter.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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