Aggregate and Summarize Data in Your Business Map

The best business mapping software provides business data visualizations for businesses, usable by non-technical business people. You do not have to be a GIS expert, a map geek, or an IT pro to use business mapping or to create relevant and informative business maps. Business map users are business managers, business owners, non-profit professionals, or medical managers. The business mapping users I speak with are admins, new employees, or lone business people in sales or consulting. Virtually anyone can access and apply Map Business Online.

Business mapping tools are used for market analysis, sales planning, franchise management, territory management, field staff management and resource planning. In short, business maps supplement core business processes for the purpose of gaining and sharing location intelligence.

Business mapping is not as technical as you might think. It requires no programming experience. If you use Excel spread sheets you can build a business map. And, best of all, business maps are fun.

Summarize Your Data
By summarizing your imported data layers on the map you can create big picture visualizations of your business. The human mind viewing a map sometimes wants to see things in summary, as opposed to detail.

Once your data is imported into a tool like Map Business Online you can summarize columns of your data in various ways on the map. Your data is imported, stored, and displayed in business map tabular views, very much like a spreadsheet. All of your extra columns, in addition to addressing data, are accessible within the application. You can access your imported business data columns for:

• Color coding by symbols
• Color shading by geographies like zip code or county
• Summerizing totals by zip code, county or state
• Aggregating data totals into territory or district labels
• Summarizing by an object – a circle, polygon or drive time area

Using Symbols to Display Data
Business maps provide a library of symbols that the user can apply after they map sales data. Users can choose to display a static point or data value variations through colored symbols of varying size. An associated map legend will describe your preferred number schemes for the map viewer’s edification. In some cases, the symbols will allow numeric values to display. Alternatively, map viewers can view data values for any given point by hovering over that point, which will generate a pop-up info-bubble.

Symbols can be simple MapPoints or imported Jpeg picture files. The user can decide which symbols work the best at describing that particular data set. By adjusting the sizes of the symbols the map creator can show relative value to the map viewer. Map experimentation is encouraged in business mapping. Tweak your maps to make your business messages communicate effectively.
County Summarization

Color Coded Geographies
In this example, geographies are administrative district areas like zip codes, counties, or states. Business mapping software enables color coding by district based on a user’s imported data layers. Thus, you can import a layer of your business data, turn it off on the map, and then color code the districts based on the values aggregated within a group of zip codes.

For example, you could plot locations on a map for all sales accounts across the USA and color code the states based on the value of sales within each state. A legend can describe the value break down – Green for states with sales between $100,000 and $250,000. And you could hover over any state to see an info-balloon summarizing dollars for that state.

Further, you could actually edit the State label to include the aggregated dollar total for that state. This label aggregation display is very convenient. Think how helpful it is to have a critical business figure by state, county or zip code right there – available on the map for reference by you or your viewers. For instance, each zip code label could be appended with Census demographic data for that zip, like population or median house hold income.

More Summarizing Options
The option to summarize data aggregation is available in most business mapping software. So instead of displaying all the individual points you imported to the map, you could summarize those points by zip code or county. Here, each zip code (or county) would get one centroid point and all of the sales numbers would be totaled for that specific zip code.

Appending data values to your zip code, county or state labels still applies here. Consider what your audience needs to see on the map. What matters most to your map viewers?

Summarization of Data by Map Object
In mapping lingo, we often use the term geographic object or map object. What we mean is a geometric shape on the map. Map users create shapes on the map in order to spatially query your target data based on that map object or shape. So, in business mapping we offer tools like a radius search tool to create a circle X miles-wide, or a drive time tool to create a rugged, multi-edged polygon that represents driving in all directions for a given period of time. We then search these map objects to collect the data included within that map object.

Map Business Online presents a mini tool bar with each map object. That tool bar includes a summary button. The summary button (looks like a sideways M) will launch a summary tool that totals up your targeted data points for just that circle or drive time polygon. It works the same for plain polygons or free form shapes. And you’ll notice as you summarize how easy it is to add other data layer to this analysis, like Census demographic layer data. Once you’re done there’s an export button to share the data as a spreadsheet outside of the application.

In Summary
There are many options for summarizing your business data using a business mapping program. To summarize, maps are fun and they help describe the big picture of your business.

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

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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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