Wrapping up 2014, our busiest year yet, Map Business Online looks forward to assisting many more business mapping software customers in 2015. Setting aside for a moment the demise of Microsoft MapPoint, we’ve noticed a major uptick in sales to business managers who use Map Business Online as a way to communicate business strategies and drive sales accountability through shared, interactive digital maps.
We think 2015 is going to be the year of the shared map. Business managers need to efficiently communicate company objectives – especially sales objectives – with their team members. And what better way to communicate than by sharing a web map? Shared maps communicate quickly and effectively because they combine facts with places in a way that helps to clarify business objectives. Shared maps say, “Your responsibility starts and ends here,” or “Your customers live and behave in this area in this way,” or “Your patient expects your assistance with this problem right here, at 6:00PM.” By relating customer targets with locations, maps help tie objectives to results.
Dare to Map Share – Securely
There’s no longer a need to ask or answer the question, “Didn’t you get the memo?” In just a few clicks a shared interactive web map can communicate the latest sales territory boundaries, display this month’s sales results by territory, and perhaps show a heat map of key account sales activity across a sales region. And all of this information is visualized and understood in one glance – as opposed to reading a boring memo.
Most businesses have warmed to the idea of uploading a spreadsheet of customer locations onto a cloud-based digital map. There’s some understandable wariness about importing business data into a cloud service, but those security concerns aren’t stopping people from doing it. The best cloud services providers encrypt imported datasets and effectively secure all map access through SSL protocols. You have to actually give bad guys your password for them to access your business data or view maps without your permission. With security in place, and advanced mapping features more broadly available, businesses are ready to move beyond MapPoint’s ten year-old feature set and get creative with their business planning.
Critical Data That Wants to Be Shared
CRM software providers have recognized the power of a map used to share critical customer data and are actively seeking out mapping integration partners. Picture a call center associate’s computer screen. An incoming call is more quickly and accurately managed when there is a map involved. Maps provide context for a rapid resolution pathway for customer questions or needs. An incoming customer, identified by location, can be instantly visualized offering immediate options for outside contact, or service center referral, based on a quick radius search or a zip code locator. Critical contact data, account information, and other key details are a simple click from the customer location symbol. A fast resolution pathway means a happy customer – more product sales, more renewals, better conversions.
As cloud services become the new software distribution model, affordable business mapping software applications have become standard tools for customer mapping, retail competitor analysis, demographic analysis, and sales planning. By sharing these popular visual perspectives on the business landscape, companies are achieving more efficient planning and improving work-flows. There’s no sense in preserving the company sales territory map on the wall of the headquarters’ boardroom. These data visualizations need to be more universally shared to derive maximum value from your entire planning process. And sharing sales territory assignments across the corporate network just makes so much sense. Sharing territory maps drives accountability – more product sales, more renewals, better conversions.
Today, with a little more investment and some planning, your team can share map editing privileges as well. This takes map sharing to a whole new level – beyond map viewing to shared editing. Got a rep complaining about slow or inaccurate data updates? Enable team shared map editing. Empower them to make changes on the map. Cloud services rule when it comes to shared editing. Legacy desktop software, like MapPoint, struggled with shared editing.
Contemporary mapping tools way outstrip MapPoint capabilities in the category of sales territory management. They are easier, more flexible, and visually more appealing than Microsoft’s last iteration – developed some eight years back. Prepare to be sales territory mapping amazed, MapPoint users. Your MapPoint replacement has arrived.
Seek Your Map Geeks
CAUTION: Sharing maps for editing and viewing is not for everyone on your staff. This is just a simple, albeit sad fact. Some of your associates are not comfortable viewing maps or they just don’t get their value. So don’t go buying everyone a mapping subscription right off. Be selective with your investment. Your business mapping team will be made up of a continuum of map-geeks. The true map geeks will grab hold of this technology and run with it. The map-peeks will use it for monthly reporting or for critical looks-ups when they have to. And a map-weak will not look at the map unless Chris Christie calls and scream-threatens them with twenty-one days of Ebola Quarantine. Protect your investment – be selective based on your understanding of your people.
Maps Inform Strategic Plans
Any strategic plan that doesn’t include a location-based analysis today is less strategic than it could be. Massive energy companies down to local mom and pop variety stores all develop their business plans based on an understanding of sales potential by coverage area. Can you imagine a business that wouldn’t want to understand its market potential by demography if the tools were readily available at a reasonable price? Of course not. That’s why smart companies, companies who look for competitive edges, are applying customer mapping tools in their strategic planning processes.
Business mapping tools as applied to strategic planning are the modern-day equivalent of radar during the Battle of Britain. The Germans didn’t understand how the British were using radar, so they left those strange-looking stations largely untouched. Bad move Adolph. Upon a Luftwaffe sortie launch, the British knew exactly how many bombers and fighters were on their way and exactly where they were headed, twenty minutes before they reached the British shoreline. This gave them time to assign RAF fighters to an appropriate rendezvous point for a successful counter attack. Picture those uniformed British women raking toy planes across a massive map while the big-wigs looked on – today that’s your business map! Likewise, your competitors could be unaware of your mapping advantage or they may be outwitting you at this very moment with their own mapping tools. Didn’t you get the memo?
Business mapping software in 2015 is a core planning tool complementary to other business systems like CRM, business intelligence, or order processing. Twitter may be history in five years – business mapping software will be more advanced and even more ubiquitous.
A MapPoint Alternative to Valhalla
As the MapPoint Viking longship is lit a-fire and pushed off to Valhalla, business managers don’t need to jump on board and sacrifice their sad selves. This is their chance to reassess their use of business mapping software and start exploring new mapping opportunities – in territory management, customer mapping visualizations, retail mapping, and strategic planning. There is life after MapPoint replacement. The smart competitive business person is already on our website exploring the vast benefits of up-to-date business mapping software. They’ll be sharing maps in 2015. Don’t wait for the memo.
Wishing everyone a spatial holiday season and a very mappy new year!
Geoffrey Ives can be reached at (207) 939-6866 or firstname.lastname@example.org