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Leaders from Pitney Bowes Business Insight share ideas, strategies and best practices that can help you locate new opportunities, connect with customers and communicate more effectively.

Getting on the same map

 
November 17th, 2009 by Pitney Bowes

By Chris McCartney

 

Consumers have become increasingly dependent on mapping applications ever since MapQuest went online in 1996. Today, maps are incorporated into search engines, company Web sites and according to a recent Forrester survey, nearly a third of North American adults own their own map-driven navigation device.

 

Developers took full advantage of open source technology when code for Google Maps API became available in 2005. The simplicity of Google and alternatives such as Bing Maps made it easy for organizations to provide customers with simple, intuitive Web-based mapping services.

 

Meanwhile, managers in back-office operations shied away from these basic mapping tools because they simply could not support the complex data crunching and spatial analysis necessary to make smart business decisions. Business-focused solutions (such as our own MapInfo Professional) delivered the advanced location intelligence and predictive analytics necessary to underwrite risk, design networks and plan retail expansions.

 

More recently, however, new technology has closed the gap between consumer simplicity and back-office sophistication – giving companies the ability to leverage common mapping applications that can handle the heavy lifting with a smile.

 

From a customer relationship point of view, this adds a much-needed level of consistency. Now, information presented on Web sites can reflect the realities of how a company operates. Making such accurate, up-to-date mapping and spatial analysis available to consumers helps increase confidence and satisfaction. From an efficiency point of view, the ability to access a centralized database helps improve data quality and eliminate unnecessary redundancies.

 

Consider this real-life example:  after a hurricane, one UK insurance company experienced a wave of claims—some of which fell outside the path of the storm.  Rather than alienate customers with flat-out denials, the company updated their Web mapping using GIS information that geo-coded the exact path of the hurricane. They applied a generous buffer zone, which eliminated any chance of error and invited claimants to double check themselves whether they really wanted to submit that claim. With the ability to see the same information that underwriters saw, many decided to “unsubmit” their request – saving the company time, money and hassles.

 

What’s special about these new technologies?  Plenty.  First, they are driven by the same sophisticated spatial analysis engines that companies have relied on for their most important decisions.  Through RIA and tiling, they offer an intuitive, out-of-the box experience that is as simple and stylish as any of the consumer-driven apps.  Built using open-source technology, developers can easily add to and adapt these solutions without the risks of a pure home-grown application.

 

So, are you interested in getting on the same map with you customers?  For more insights, check out the recap from our recent Stratus RIA Workshop.  We look forward to your thoughts…

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