Map Business Online Blog

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

Business Mapping Software – A Standard Tool for Biz Owners, Sales & Marketing Pros

As busy as sales and marketing pros get nowadays, the thought of learning new software is enough to make one pour your mocha latte on your laptop. Still, we have to admit, the idea of facing our business day armed only with a land line, a note-book, and a pen is frightening. Like this morning’s TWC outage! How would we manage our businesses without our CRM, email tools, Internet searches and spreadsheet software?

Over time business mapping software is becoming a standard tool set for successful sales and marketing pros and for business managers in general. Leveraging location intelligence to visualize your customers, future customers, and competitors informs your strategic direction and keeps your business ahead of the pack.

One major reason for this is because business mapping software converts a simple customer list – a CRM generated spreadsheet of customer or prospect addresses – into real locations on the Earth. Your customers become point on the Earth that you can see – that you can virtually and physically inspect for further opportunities. This is the process of data visualization and location intelligence gathering.

Seeing is Realizing
Visualizing your business data on a map means you can now think about more than just a particular customer. You can consider how many possible other potential customers exist within a given radius of your existing customers. To reiterate, business mapping software can depict an existing customer location on a map with a circle around it that highlights a list of prospective customers within that circle. Now you can imagine doing business with neighboring businesses in addition to similar businesses.

A radius search reveals existing opportunities that you or your sales people can explore as part of a regular customer sales call. Perhaps you’ve purchased a business list from services such as Info-Group or Experian that allow you to search for customers by NAICS code or by common industry verticals. You can add these contacts to your business mapping software. Now you are leveraging the power of map visualization to expand your list of opportunities. You are turning a one-dimensional sales call into an exploration of possibilities. Over time your business will generate more sales this way. See it on a map and realize the sales.

Competing Views
Answering questions should be critical to your strategic business plan. Where are my customers? Where are my competitors? Where are my opportunities? Competitor maps – maps that show where your competitors are doing business – can be used to help understand where you may be missing opportunities. With business mapping software, you are a simple spreadsheet away from viewing those answers.

Viewing your competition’s locations against a demographic map or a metropolitan area map can help you make informed decisions about new branch locations, new sales routes, hiring practices, or intelligence gathering. Perhaps in your planning process you decide to take no new hiring action at all this year, but you make that decision based on your business intelligence – data you’ve gathered using tools at your disposal. Business mapping software should be part of that analysis.

Are your competitors using business mapping software? There are at least eight businesses offering online mapping software on the Internet. Google it. Prices start at around $250 per year – and they all have free trials of some kind. How likely is it that your competition is Googling mapping software too? It is very likely.

Patterns on a Map
If you could display five years of sales location on a map, each year in different color schemes, what would that tell you? I bet your sales densities have changed over time. Do you know why? Have you shared a map view like this with your sales team and had an open discussion about it?

Different people view maps in different ways. A money-obsessed, top performing sales associate will pick up on big opportunities, low hanging fruit that will quickly fatten his paycheck. But the very same map view might inspire more subtle possibilities to a more technically focused sales person. Her perspective may reveal a trend based on technical shifts which could point to new business models critical to the overall future of the company. For instance she might recognize areas where a new fiber line was installed last year and how that telecom infrastructure enhancement leads to new business opportunities. Share your maps with your constituents and gather their intelligence.

The Demographic View
Another aspect of business mapping software pioneered by Microsoft MapPoint is the addition of demographic data as a map layer. Simply viewing the whole USA based on population densities or median income numbers can help you decide where to focus sales efforts over the next period. A report of zip codes, counties, or metro areas displaying population and median income can quickly eliminate areas of low potential and provide more effective direction for a limited resource – your sales team.

Business maps can reveal patterns, trends, and business shifts that unlock opportunities and can provide critical clues for changes in strategic and tactical direction. A digital map is a marvelous method of gaining business intelligence. Do not ignore the opportunities presented by online business mapping software; because there is no guarantee that your competitors are more ignorant than you are.

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

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Editing Your Data in Business Mapping Software

Visualizing your business data through business mapping software can be a real eye-opener but what happens when the data you just imported requires editing? With Map Business Online we offer several ways to update or edit your imported data. (This is a how to blog.)

Edit a Record
To edit an existing record open the Data Window and select your target dataset in the upper left hand corner Data Window drop down. Hover your cursor over the left hand column of each record. You’ll see a Pencil Icon appear. Click the pencil and choose to edit Data Properties, as opposed to Address or Location. A dialogue area appears that enables edits of your data fields. Edit away. You could choose to edit the Location, in which case you can shift the location of your record on the map and save it. Just click somewhere else on the map and the icon will move.

Add an Address Record to a Database
To add a new record to an existing dataset, use the Address Bar at the upper left hand corner of your map. Type the address of your record addition into the address bar. This will place a point on the map at your record’s address location. Click the MapPoint icon with the Disc on it. Choose “Add Location” to add to an existing data set or click New to start a new dataset. Complete the operation by adding data to other fields as required.

Drop a Point to Create New Data
Another way to edit data on the map is to drop a point on the map using the Add Location Callout button in the draw tools. In the main toolbar click the Draw Tool drop down and follow the arrow down the draw tools menu and grab the bottom option – the MapPoint icon. Select the symbol and click the map where you’d like to add a point. A dialog box opens, choose New. Name the new dataset and continue. You can now add additional columns to your dataset as well.

Take Notes on Records
When you click on a dataset symbol on your map view, an abbreviated label appears. You can take notes on this record that will be added to your database and will be exportable for use outside the map application. To add notes, hover over the left hand side of the abbreviated label until a “+” symbol appears. Click the “+” symbol and the full label opens up revealing a notes area on the bottom section. Now, take notes until the cows come home. Note text will appear in the label and as a field in your overall dataset in the Data Window which you can export.

The ability to edit data records and create data records within your business map application means you can use the tool to support CRM activities, call center operations and other situations where new data is important to your business process; especially where business operations are intimately connected to specific physical locations.

And don’t forget to consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+ or at Best Vendor

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , vs. Microsoft MapPoint

Here’s a feature comparison of Microsoft MapPoint with

MapPoint vs. MBO

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The Data Window – The Heart & Soul of Your Business Data

Business mapping software bridges the gap between business spreadsheets and reality. Investing in a business mapping application adds a new perspective to your business. Physical reality is represented by the map with all of its location-based components. Business spreadsheets are represented by, well, business spreadsheets. When you map data from Excel you place your business data on the map.

Know the Data Window
In Map Business Online (MBO) we provide a tabular view of your imported data and provided map layers called the Data Window. Think of it as a window overlooking the heart and soul of your business. Too much? Ok, think of it as providing a window on certain aspects of your business data – the location related aspects. Most business mapping software applications provide some sort of tabular view of your imported business data.

When you first open a new map in MBO the Data Window shows you the Map Layers available – these include counties, states and zip codes. There are more map layers available from the Add Map Layers button. The Data Window provides many of Map Business Online functions including:

• Imported data presentation and data query work – a work sheet view of imported business data
• Territory mapping, storage and display tools
• A demographic data analysis platform
• A data segmentation tool for market analysis, data reporting, and optimized route creation

The Data Window opens up whenever we import data, create data, or create territories within Map Business Online. To access the Data Window at any time simply click the Spreadsheet Icon to the immediate left of the Car Icon on the right side of the Tool Bar.

Data Presentation & Querying
When you import your business data – customers or prospects from your CRM, or vendors and payables contacts out of QuickBooks – it is displayed on the map as location points or symbols and displayed within the Data Window as a spreadsheet. When you click on a location point on the map, that identical record in the Data Window is highlighted in yellow. Thus the two presentations of your business data are linked – map view & Data Window.

That linked map and data function comes in handy. Click a record on the Data Window and the map window zooms to that location.

You’ll notice too that when you import and plot data points the left hand column of the Data Window indicates whether or not your records geocoded well. In other words, the locations were accurately mapped by MBO. Green means good, yellow means it could be improved (it might be a PO Box for instance) and a red X means the address did not geocode at all. You can click into these records from that left column indicator and create or adjust the location of each record. There is also an option to edit other aspects of the data record here.

In terms of presentation, you can also use the Data Window as a report generator. Here you can add MBO provided demographic data to your imported data, or filter your records for a subset or segmented view and save the file to your desktop using that far right button on the Data Window toolbar.

Territory Management
If you import or create territories in MBO you immediately are presented with a Data Window view of your territories. Each territory name will be listed below the Map Layer it is based on. Zip code based territories are neatly listed below the Zip code map layer. Each territory data set will list all of the component administrative districts that make up that territory. This data is exportable and you can add demographic data to your territory for optimization or analysis. Again, these data layers are exportable.

Other territory management tools found in the Data Window include a color box to adjust territory shades, and the marketing list and territory name management button (second from the right). Use this to change the territory name or to delete your territory.

You can also use the Filter Button on the Data Window tool bar to create territories by zip code range. Select the zip code map layer and click that Filter icon button. On the left, choose drop downs General and Zip Code and then use the modifier selection on the right applying “greater than” > xxxxx and “less than” < xxxxx to generate a list of zips. Saving the file lets you name the new territory. Too cool for school, I tell you.

And to query by territory simply select the target data layer you want to query (accounts or customers) than choose that Yellow Puzzle Piece icon on the Data Window Toolbar and select the Territory to query by.

By choosing the Filter Data on the Map check box – upper left hand corner – you can view just those queried records, or just that selected territory. Great for focusing on one territory at a time.

Demographic Data
You can easily add multiple demographic data layers to your Data Window work, as mentioned above. Click the Gear button in the bottom right corner. In the dialog box that appears selected Demographic Data from the drop down options. There’s the current list of Census data options and we’re adding a bunch more in September of this year. Use this to add population, income or household information to your business analysis or to better assess your territory assignment rules. Remember, you can export this demographic data too.

Data Filtering
Using the Data Window toolbar buttons you can filter and segment you business data in many ways. Click that filter button to search your data by:
• Zip code or other administrative district
• By any data column within your imported data – Status, Type, Name, Address…
• Use those modifiers – equals, contains, does not equal, or my favorite ‘less than or equal to’ < =

Once you have you adjusted data sheet, save it as a route or territory. Note the toolbar Spreadsheet Icon with the Car on it. That lets you plan a route – a multi-stop optimized route – to all records in the Data Window up to 125 stops or records.

That’s enough Data Window lore for one day. Be sure to use this powerful map data manipulation tool when managing your projects and territories.

And don’t forget to consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+ or at Best Vendor

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Are You Looking for a MapPoint Alternative?

“People who bet against the Internet, who think that somehow this change is just a generational shift, miss that it is a fundamental reorganizing of the power of the end-user. The Internet brings tremendous tools to the end-user, and that end-user is going to use them.” – Eric Schmidt, CEO at Google

Last month Microsoft announced that it was discontinuing MapPoint, its desktop business mapping software, as of December 2015. Obviously, because I work for (MBO), I see this as an opportunity. Still it’s kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Five years ago, while working at where I headed up the professional mapping division where we competed against MapPoint every day. At one point, the company hired an ex-MapPoint manager who, while never violating his non-disclosure commitments, gave me a sense of what a great team MapPoint had assembled.

MapPoint was a great desktop product. In addition to providing a solid array of almost GIS features and being extremely affordable, the product provided API access to the software enabling automation of some services. And although Microsoft really gave up on the product five or more years ago, it has remained a major competitor in the business mapping sector.

So what should MapPoint users do now for a MapPoint replacement? Here are a few ideas based on what I know.

Let Go of the Desktop
I know for some of you this is a challenge. You worry about your data security and the ability to import all of your data records. The desktop feels secure compared to the web. Well I am here to say, “Relax!” Web-based business mapping applications and mapping services are completely secure. MBO’s cloud service is hosted through Microsoft Azure where the data is encrypted. And even though we provide the cloud business mapping service our users love, none of us at MBO can view user data or maps. Only you can access your data using your log-in credentials. We have healthcare and banking customers using our cloud mapping services to access business mapping tools. Believe me, it is safe and secure.
And actually, business mapping software is even more accessible than desktop business mapping software. You can log-in to your business maps from any web browser – PC based or Mac based. How cool is that? I was once traveling in Mexico and had to provide an emergency web demo to a customer in Canada. I simply logged into my account using a hotel lobby business-center computer and proceeded as usual. The Internet is the Internet for a reason – it’s ubiquitous, it’s fast, and it’s here to stay.

Our business mapping software and many of our web-based competitors’ products allow tens of thousands of records to be imported and geocoded on a business map. We’ll allow as many as 100,000 imported records per map. You will find web based services to be more robust and faster than a five-year old desktop environment. We recently tested the MapPoint geocoder and found MapPoint failed to match 2% of the addresses we imported. We feel this error rate is too high and users should expect better results with web-based business mapping options. So get ready for improved geocoding performance (geocoding refers to when you plot data points or your location-based spreadsheets into a web map application.)

Symbolizing and Color Coding Your Imported Data
We’ve spent the last four years matching and surpassing MapPoint features. It’s been a challenge, but well worth the effort. Now you can Color-code and symbolize your business data in a variety of ways – including heat maps – which MapPoint did not offer. Most business mapping tools offer a library of symbols you can apply to your data. You can easily create your own symbols. MBO allows color coding by oversized circles that are flexible in size and color – great for over emphasizing sales results. Charts and graph symbols are available too. If you think of more ways you’d like to symbolize your data please let us know.

Territory Management
Sales territory management is another function we think is even better in web-based mapping tools. One way territory creation can be achieved is by importing a spreadsheet of your territory assignments. This could be a way to transition your MapPoint territories into a MapBusinessOnline or a competitor’s system. And of course, you can create territories on the fly using polygon or incremental selection tools.

If you’ve been using MapPoint for territory management you should look forward to the territory management tools now available to you. In our case, MBO allows more flexibility in constructing territories out of various administrative district layers. The various methods of territory creation provide the MBO user with great flexibility:

• Import pre-assigned territory spreadsheets
• Select administrative districts (zips, counties, etc.) using a polygon tool
• Incrementally select administrative districts one by one
• Filter zip codes by numeric lists (i.e. zips 01966 through 01989) and save as a territory

MBO includes the ability to query imported location data by territory. And users can aggregate their sales or customer data by territory, displaying sales totals alongside the territory names. That’s cooler than MapPoint. MapPoint does let you remove administrative district boundaries internal to a territory. That feature is on our list of territory related improvements to make over the next six months.

Filter & Segment Your Data
MBO provides a tabular data window view of imported user data. Within this window the user can filter data in a variety of ways including simple searches for specific content or by using formula modifiers like “>”, “<”, “=”, or “contains”. The user can filter any column of imported data and display and save that segmented list for use on the map, in building multi-stop vehicle routes, or to export for use outside the application. Filter by state, or filter by a query you design. We feel our data filtering process works better than MapPoint’s.

The Base Map Data
The one area Microsoft MapPoint let go of early on was street data updates. I don’t think they’ve presented an up-to-date street map dataset for a number of years. I just assumed it was a licensing expense issue – but I have no idea what the deal was. Cloud mapping services like Map Business Online secure their map data through web service agreements with map data providers. It’s more efficient to update map data layers for web services than it is for desktop applications. At least I think so. Our base maps are updated quarterly. And I think you’ll find that web-based business mapping services offer better background map views and a wider variety of administrative districts – for instance we just added city limits, MSA’s and Census tracts. MapPoint did not support City Limits. This also means you can expect to color code your business data by zip code, county or any other district. Think number of sales accounts by county or total sales by state – all colored and legend related. It’s as if you were a map maker by trade!

In addition to the street data improvements on the base map layer, many web-based MapPoint alternatives offer satellite map views and topographic map views. Base map data layers available from digital map companies are improving all the time. Today there is no excuse for having old map data. We live in a world of crowd sourced/open sourced worldwide mapping. If your map data has errors in it – complain to the map provider.

Demographic Analysis
Shop around the various mapping applications and you will find demographic data is also available. Here MapPoint’s analysis capabilities exceeded many of the offerings in the competing price range. For basic analysis and display of demographic data most of you will be just fine with the web-based tools available; however for more advanced demographic analysis (thematic mapping) you’re going to have to get your boss to increase the mapping budget because MapPoint provided some sweet capabilities at a low price point. You may require true GIS software now. Assume your costs will be north of $5000. But keep checking on this because web-based mapping tools are constantly improving and demographics data is in demand. MBO will be adding a dozen new Census demographic themes next month as part of our quarterly update to our annual subscription package.

MapPoint allowed programming access via an Application Programming Interface or API which was extremely generous and, for advanced users, convenient. Some users used this tool to conduct market analysis like concentric circle construction across a database of locations or comparing several databases to determine distance relationships between points. In Map Business Online we’ve added a Market Analysis Tool that enables the comparison of two datasets for concentric circle analysis, dataset distance calculation, and multiple point data queries across two datasets.

Sharing Maps
MapPoint users used standard map sharing techniques to communicate their business maps. Today’s web based alternatives offer the same capabilities. Jpeg, PNG and PDF exports can be used to embed maps in PowerPoint presentations or to print large format (5’ x5’) wall maps. And because web based mapping applications are, well, web-based, they are great at creating web map URLs that can be sent via email or text message – communicating your business map message to your map audience.

All-in-all MapPoint users will find web-based business mapping tools exist that will provide better, faster, and more robust business mapping solutions than you are used to with MapPoint. Sure, you’re going to have to cough up money for a new subscription and you will face a brief learning curve but your mapping capabilities will be preserved and even expanded at a relatively similar price point. And here’s one thing you never got from MapPoint that you’ll get from some of these web-based alternatives, an answer when you call or email.

When you say good-bye to an old friend it’s nice to know there’s a new one standing by. We’re standing by to help you make the transition from MapPoint to a web-based business mapping MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+ or at Best Vendor

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