It’s Complicated – Thoughts on Complex Mapping with Business Mapping Software

Sometimes the business mapping answers you want are found through complex operations. You may desire to find out all of the locations that do not have any associated data points within a fifty mile radius. Or you may want to conduct calculations across various columns in your data and show the results in another column.

Using business mapping software may or may not provide the answers you seek, but there are usually tools you can apply to the problem. Including your original spreadsheet data. Tools like market analysis maps can make business mapping software more than a tool to just plot locations on a map.

Because mapping software often enables totaling of numeric values by geographic segment – by territory, zip code, state, or county – you can usually expect to show sales totals or value totals by geographic segment. Taken a step further, you can add category count columns to your Excel data and allow the mapping application to total those records on the map as well.

Spreadsheet Manipulation
For example, if you have three categories in your data – say small, medium, and large accounts – add a column for Small Count, Medium Count, and Large Count in your spreadsheet. Populate those columns accordingly – put the value of 1, wherever you have a small account, and so on. Import the adjusted data and color code as dots: Small – Blue, Medium – Red, and Large – Blue. Using this amended dataset, you can compare multiple data layers and get results that show how many of each account category exist within X radius of a series of brick and mortar locations.
Taken a step further, you can query the resulting dataset counts using a Filter tool to establish which brick and mortar locations have zero small, medium, and large accounts located within a designated radius.

For many of you, this may be way too much work. But for a company that has many records, and needs to answer a basic question, perhaps related to a major marketing activity, this could be a great way to get the answer without hiring NASA consultants to ponder the issue and develop a result at $150.00 per rocket scientist, per hour.

So the lesson here is don’t run from complexity. Take it one step at a time. Leverage your spreadsheet software. Call or email for help. And consider the problem in a quiet place, before the kids wake up in the morning and with Facebook turned off. With a little bit of thinking, and experimenting you just might get the answer your seek.

And if your business mapping application doesn’t have the capabilities to solve your complex queries, it may be time to consider GIS software. Geographic Information Software companies like www.esri.com offer tools that can take into consideration complex data structures when answering large questions about big business, environmental resource challenges, and social/political trends.

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