The Power of Business Mapping Software

What does an organization miss by not using business mapping software? That’s a valid question. All software applications cost money to acquire and require investments in people and time to implement. While it is true that the required investments for most business mapping software is modest, why bother introducing yet another software into a busy business?

The Power of Visualization

The human brain processes information in a variety of ways. Visualization is a very efficient way for the brain to understand a situation. That’s why our eyes evolved into our most critical sensory receptor.

Our brains work quicker than we know, processing information in chunks and leading to deductions that are than reviewed,  rejected or confirmed by looking at more information. Sometimes this analysis takes place in a few blinks of an eye.

Spreadsheets with business data do not lend themselves to fast processing.  Raw business data requires examination, thought, queries and re-examination.  But maps offer visualizations of business analysis based on raw data. When maps are shared the people viewing the maps are giving an opportunity to draw conclusions visually. Visualizations support clear and fast decision-making.

Business maps share visual information by defining location points and areas of interest on a digital map of the world. Points and map areas can be color shaded to define specific areas and points by category or coverage area.  A map legend quickly informs the viewer what these color shaded areas or points refer to in the real world.

In business mapping color can define demography by county, business coverage areas by zip code, sales territories by state, clinician requirements by Census tract, franchise opportunities by zip code, insect infestation by county – practically any phenomenon that can be defined by area.

The true power of map visualization is achieved when the viewer recognizes patterns and trends not discerned in the raw data. Such visual results can shift decision-making and strategies in ways that may encourage growth or suggest caution and restraint, depending on the situation.

The Power of Organization

Spreadsheets are usually pretty organized. Many business systems like CRM or ERP systems, are simply ways of organizing business data for the benefit of data accessibility and decision making. Maps extend the organizing process through visualizations and analysis.

By viewing field staff location points against a business map, daily decisions about staff allocations can take place in an organized way. Maps enable faster decision-making because relative proximities between the closest staff to field crisis points become obvious.  Maps direct staff to field work efficiently, minimizing chaos (KAOS).

Work flow efficiencies and reduced operational costs are side benefits to applied map visualizations. Tangible upsides include rapid response times, faster problem resolutions, and reduced crisis management. Overall improved capacity planning through business maps means fewer people achieve more. In most business that means an improved competitive position, lower costs, and faster growth.

The Power of Communication

In business, no one can hear you scream.

Business Planning Map

Business Planning Map

In business, you can’t always make your people happy by paying them more. Most businesses go through lean periods where economic conditions or growth opportunities may limit employee paycheck growth.  I believe most employees have some patience for such periods.  But there are ways you can make those periods more palatable. One way is to communicate effectively.  Use business maps to define a business situation for your constituents can encourage team building in a crisis.

Because maps are visual tools and help to organize business workflows, business maps are great communication tools. I always use the quarterly sales meeting as a perfect example of using maps to improve communication. Sales forecast and results can be easily displayed through sales territory mapping. Sales people viewing sales results against a map drives accountability and accountability drives sales.

There are many business communication applications companies we know well, regularly apply:

  • Call centers share business web maps so client information is easily available to sales reps
  • Marketing organizations share maps across departments as a way develop marketing campaigns out of visualized prospect data
  • Homecare and hospice agencies share business maps so that staff can view critical field requirements and react effectively
  • Sharing demographic planning map views that point out successful retail store locations and potential store locations
  • Customer service orgs share maps across a CSR network for customer zip code lookups

I’ve seen maps used by prosecuting attorneys to make their case clear to a jury.  Maps have a way of turning a mess of information into a convincing description of where and when a crime was committed.

The case I’m thinking of was cold-blooded murder. There were many people involved in the crime story, lots of driving with a dead body, and a hasty shallow burial in the woods. The company I worked for at the time provided a business map that could be shared with the jury. It showed the specific locations where the defendant was and at what day and time. The map referenced pictures of evidence associated with each location.

Needless to say, that guys in the big house for life. Shared maps promote justice, and justice promotes the big house. There’s power in that too.

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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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