Written By: Benton Belcher - Resident Digital Cartographer, Mapaholic & SFA Expert
I am amazed at the use cases we have come across that call for adding geospatial support to Microsoft Dynamics CRM over the past few years. Given that experience, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 reasons for spatially enabling CRM.
#5 – Ensure the “locational” accuracy of your data
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has been leveraging maps within CRM to keep track of registered sexual offender’s known address locations. Over 20% of the 1,200 offenders in Broward County are considered transient and don’t have a valid address (e.g. they live in the woods or under an overpass). BSO takes things a step further by implementing a web resource plugin that allows deputies to adjust the positional accuracy of the location. Mapping these offenders accurately is a very important step since this system feeds their public facing sex offender locator apps for iOS and Android.
#4 – Visualize CRM entity data within the spatial context of other CRM data
GeoDimensions, a large land surveying company out of Bellevue, WA, innovated by introducing mapping into CRM. They needed to be able to identify all their historic survey locations (completed jobs) within a given distance of a new opportunity. By overlaying the opportunity location on the map combined with the historic survey locations, they were able to increase the speed of proposal generation and lower their fees by leveraging control points from prior surveys they’d done.
#3 – Visualize CRM entity data within the spatial context of other ‘GIS’ data or feeds
Overlaying geographic data that exists outside of CRM is a very common use case I’ve encountered. For example, the Broward Sheriff’s Office also uses the maps to overlay school, park, daycare and library parcel boundaries in order to measure the distance around an offender’s address to see if it intersects a property where children may congregate. This functionality in CRM helps BSO comply with state and local ordinances and saves them the time of going into the field to do a measurement.
Another great example of integrating additional geographic data is from a large restaurant franchise. This organization manages their store and supplier locations (reasons #4 & #5) within CRM. When a big storm system moves across a region of the US, oftentimes their suppliers (e.g. bakeries and protein producers) can be impacted. By overlaying a live weather feed on top of their store and supplier locations they can anticipate disruptions in the supply chain. Here is an example of what a weather overlay combined with store location data looks like.
#2 – Geospatial Business Intelligence and Ad Hoc Spatial Analysis
Geospatial business intelligence is always a very hot topic when it comes to CRM data, I’ve observed this again and again over the past few years. The limitation of the out-of-the-box CRM charts and graphs is they can’t deal with one of the most important factors of the data, the location. BI components that display information on an interactive map allow CRM users to account for location in their analysis. The following are descriptions of popular geospatial visualization techniques that give prospective to the data.
Thematic mapping capability is the cornerstone of BI and ad hoc analysis. Good mapping tools should allow the user to on-the-fly create classifications and filters. In this example, locations are classified by both sales data (color) and sub-type (shape).
Drawing and Querying
The ability to draw shapes or select features then query your CRM data is also a very important concept in geospatial BI. Having this capability in a mapping application gives you the ability to select features from existing layers or draw free-form shapes and areas.
Clustering allows you to visualize large amounts of data on the map aggregated by density. This example goes a step further by applying the classification (2013 Sales Totals) color to the cluster.
In this example hotspots are used to visualize the distribution of data normalized by the 2013 Sales Data. Tampa and Orlando pop out as having high sales volumes based on density.
The other visualization technique that is common is simply viewing point locations. Viewing the individual points works well at the sub-count/city level when you can ‘click-identify’ the feature. Showing a callout with information about the point as well as a hyperlink back to the CRM record is a much desired feature. Here is an example of voter registration data used by a political campaign.
#1 – Improved Territory Management
If you’re like me, you probably scroll through Top * lists to get straight to the number #1, so here we are. My #1 reason to spatially enable your CRM is to improve territory management! Streamlining territory management is one of the most common reasons CRM organizations contacted us about our MapDotNet technology over the past three years and is the whole reason we started EasyTerritory.com. Reasons #2-#5 are the building blocks to tackle territory management (so they’re worth a read ;-)).
Any organization that deals with multi-tier sales territories or franchise areas is bound to struggle with the management of these regions. I’ve seen organizations struggle with the burdensome task of importing/exporting CRM data to/from MapPoint or managing territories from an Excel spreadsheet of zip/postal codes.
Companies and even governments are starting to realize the power of using maps within Dynamics build territories and see real-time statistics on the accounts/leads/stores within it. It changes the entire perspective on how you might assign your records.
To see a demo of improved territory management in action, check out this YouTube video:
If you’re interested in learning more about leveraging geospatial capabilities within Dynamics, please feel free to email me: benton at easyterritory.com.