Compare Multiple Data Sets Using Business Mapping Software

In business, and in life I suppose, sometimes it helps to compare two completely separate datasets. One spreadsheet might be made up of store locations and the other might be a list of customers with addresses. Or one might represent medical facility locations and the other might be patient zip codes. Or perhaps one spreadsheet lists shipping locations and the other lists shipping destinations. Regardless of what you have to compare, you may run across the need to compare two datasets.

Some business mapping software can be used to accomplish dataset comparisons. Because business mapping software is geographic by nature, the results of these comparison queries are usually related to geography in some way. Results might provide the quantity of target customer records that exist within specific radii distances of a list of store addresses or specific service locations. Another result might be the distances between one set of points and all points in a second dataset.

Sometimes you might not know what you are looking for but it might help to view one dataset against another and see what shows up. Often just the data visualization of two or three datasets opens up new business discussions. Strategy is informed by geography. Generals Lee and Jackson made much good use of the rivers and mountains they discerned on a map. Geographic views can also be enlightening because they expose patterns in data that you might not have expected. For example:

• The business you work for plans to build five stores at specific locations in the Southern California area. You’ve acquired a list of customer prospects with home addresses in the vicinity of your store locations. You want to determine how many of those prospects live within 20 miles of each store location.

• You manage school transportation for a suburban New England school district with three school locations. You’ve used your mapping application to create a list of zip codes covering all your students’ home locations. These zip code centroid points represent drop-off and pick-up locations. You want your map with zip codes to generate a list of the distances from all three of your school locations to all of the zip code pick-up locations in your list.

• You’re a divorced, single, aging, male hipster (age 55) and you need to compare a list of your ex’s bffs home locations with a list of singles mixer events happening next week within 50 miles of your new bachelor pad. The results will show where you are most likely able to date again or if you need to expand your net. A third dataset depicting emergency room locations in the overall area could also be helpful.

As you can see, comparing multiple datasets within business mapping software can provide a whole new perspective on your business or your personal “situation.”

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About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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