Map Business Online Blog

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

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 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

Contact: Geoffrey Ives (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider 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

Contact: Geoffrey Ives (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

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

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What’s the Point of a Zip Code Point?

The U.S. Postal Service introduced zip codes in 1963 as a way to make mail delivery more efficient. The point of the zip code was to organize the mail sort and mail delivery processes by zones – to make the postal work-flow more “Zippy.” The Post Office developed four types of zip codes:

• Standard – what most of us know to be geographic areas assigned to zip codes
• Post Office Box only – for delivery to PO Boxes at specific delivery addresses
• Military – for routing mail to military installations
• Unique – zip codes for businesses or facilities that get a high-volume of mail

Here at Map Business Online we break zip codes into two categories:
• Zip codes with Boundaries – Standard zip codes
• Point zip codes – All other zip codes (the other three categories above)

Most business mapping software users expect a zip code to be a boundary based zip code, and most of them are. At last count we list 35,372 boundary based zip codes in the MBO Data Window zip code layer. We include a complete list of zip codes in Map Business Online as a separate dataset (more on this below in this blog) and that list contains 41,190 zips. That means point zip codes account for 5,818 zip codes across the nation.

Point zip codes are typically associated with large businesses, large education facilities, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other large entities that take bulk deliveries of mail and handle the final delivery process.

Boundary Zips for Sales Territory Mapping
In Map Business Online we use boundary zip codes as the geographic base unit for sales territory creation. These same tools are also applied to create market areas, areas of interest (AOI), or coverage areas. So, as you can see, not everyone calls the these areas territories but they amount to the same thing. Sales territory creation in MBO takes place when the user groups a series of zip codes together to form a shaded area of the map with a defined name. These zip codes can be assigned incrementally – one-by-one, or lassoed using a polygon creation tool, or they can be imported from a spreadsheet. (See previous blog posts for complete instructions.) I guess you could also call this zip code mapping. And remember, in MBO you can conduct the same groupings with city limits, counties, states, Census tracts, zip 3’s, MSA’s, and even school districts.

Each territory or AOI, once created will list all of the boundary based zip codes that make up that specific area of interest. In the Data Window you’ll see your territory or AOI listed by name and neatly filed below your administrative district – zip codes in this case. In the lower left it will tell you how many boundaried zip codes you have in your AOI data set. The user is then able to export that list out of MBO for use in other applications. For instance, a territory assigned to a sales representative can be exported as a list of zip codes for that sales rep to file as his or her area of responsibility. So this answers a common question, “Can I export all the zip codes within a radius?” Yes, you can.

Where’s My Point?
Point zip codes are sometimes reported as missing from territories by MBO users. These point zip codes are actually there, embedded in the map application. Those embedded point zip codes just aren’t used to build coverage areas because they lack defined boundaries. To check this, key a missing zip code into the Address Lookup in the upper left-hand corner of the map application. If it is a valid zip code you will see a zip code point referenced on the map, and it will be located somewhere inside of a boundary zip code.

If you imported business data that included sales results for one or more point zip codes those results will be included in any sales calculation operation applied to the corresponding boundary-based zip code areas. Imported point zip code data always gets included in spatial queries within Map Business Online.

Show Me All My Zips
In Map Business Online there is a way to query each territory and generate a list of all zip codes – whether boundary or point based – within that territory. To accommodate this analysis we’ve included a dataset of all zip codes in the product. To import that list click the Plot Data on Map button – fifth button from the left on the tool-bar.

• In the resulting dialogue page choose the lower option labeled “Select data you have already uploaded to server”
• Note the “Public data” folder is now available to you – hit that drop down arrow and choose Public Data
• Go all the way to the bottom and select ‘Zip Codes Q2 2014’ and process by hitting next. This puts the entire zip code list in your map as a layer. You can turn off the points on the map that result from this import and proceed with the analysis.

Back in the Data Window you can now search or filter that layer for records. In the Data Window activate the Data drop down and select the Zip Codes Q2 2014 layer. To the right side of the Data Window tool-bar, select the Yellow Puzzle Piece Icon and choose a target territory – that geographic area of interest you want to query. The result will be every zip code from the Zip Codes Q2 2014 file in your selected territory – including point zips. Save and export as required.

In this way Map Business Online is truly a zip code mapping tool. In addition to color coding your maps by zip code users can plot zip codes on a map, show population by zip code, find all the zip codes within a radius, or simply color code one single zip code. As with all MBO layers you have complete control of zip code fill shading, borders, and labeling options. You can even calculate sales totals by zip.

Cocktail Party Impressions
So, the next time you find yourself trying to impress a new acquaintance at a cocktail party try working point zip codes into the conversation. No one will know what you are talking about. If nothing else you’ll get an understanding of their tolerance for hot topics like the United State Postal Service and business mapping software. And the chances are good you’ll at least secure their home zip code for future follow-up, which is much better than state or county for successful locating, but not as good as a phone number. Believe me, I know.


Let a digital map help you learn about your business

Contact: Geoffrey Ives (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

Review us at Capterra g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor

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