Map Business Online Blog

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

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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