This article was contributed by Riddhi Patel who works as a content marketer for different clients.
Can you imagine visiting an unknown place without the GPS on your smartphone? The answer is a big “No.” The same, however, was a reality a couple of decades ago, when all people had was a plain text address of the location they intended to visit.
Naturally, this made the lives of salespeople and door-to-door marketers difficult since they had to plan their entire workday around a series of mere text-based addresses. Through its launch in 1999, Microsoft MapPoint solved this fundamental problem, making navigating routes much simpler for people.
What is Microsoft MapPoint?
Microsoft MapPoint is mapping software that enables users to edit, view, and integrate maps. Developed to specifically cater to the business user segment, such as sales representatives and delivery teams, the first version of this software came out only in 1999 after years of the development process.
Think of MapPoint as one of the earliest Global Positioning System (GPS) solutions. Users could visualize and analyze geographically included and customized data through this mapping application. In other words, sales professionals could visualize their go-to routes on the map and plan trips accordingly with MapPoint.
The software also helped users group and target customers from a specific location. It also facilitated the monitoring of consumer records. With such a robust bundle of functionalities, salespeople could put their entire focus on closing the deals and building and maintaining client relations rather than having to figure out their day's paths manually.
What Does Microsoft MapPoint Do?
As you hit MapPoint, you can select a map you require at the time. And the application would fill in your entire screen with it, making it effortlessly easier to view the destinations and identify all the possible directions that are ideal, cost-effective, and time-saving.
If that wasn't all, the software packed in interesting tools to maximize the users' productivity. Take its Find tool, for example. It allows you to search a particular location accurately within minutes. Moreover, it consisted of drawing tools, which made it possible to highlight your preferred route for each location.
All of that, together, empowered on-field sales personnel to optimize their day-to-day visits a day or even weeks in advance. Without having to fret over the geographic challenges of their job.
What are the Features of Microsoft MapPoint?
Since Microsoft MapPoint was designed to streamline operations for delivery fleets and sales teams, it comprised a host of features. The software worked well with other Microsoft offerings, like Microsoft Office, which made its functioning even more seamless. Let's have a brief look at its rich feature-set:
1. Address Finding
Also known as Geocoding, this feature allows you to look up any location easily on the map, faster, and with utmost precision.
2. Route Creation
With hassle-free viewing of the map and your shortlisted destinations, you can create routes that best suit your distinct needs for every location on your list with a few simple clicks.
3. Easy Save & Share
After putting in a lot of work into identifying and creating routes, MapPoint empowers you to save your work and share it with your teammates for a smoother workflow.
4. Multi-file Import and Exports
With continuous additions to its toolkit, MapPoint also offered hassle-free imports and exports of your data into various formats. In fact, you could also carry out the import/export tasks on multiple files simultaneously.
5. Route Optimization
The mapping software provided users with the privileges of choosing the routes that offered minimal travel time, planning and expenses to fulfill their goals.
6. Territory Creation
With MapPoint, people from the sales team can hassle-freely visualize and create their individual sales territories using the system's drawing tools. In addition, the solution included tools that simplified manipulation and management of these territories on the map, ensuring everyone on the team stays on the same page at all times.
7. Offline Maps
To ensure your sales or delivery goals don't go off-track even when you're not connected to the internet, MapPoint offers offline maps for easy access and uninterrupted operations.
8. Data Mapping
Through data mapping, the software empowers you to manipulate pushpin colors, highlighting, and visibility.
9. GPS Guidance
Thanks to the integration of Microsoft's GPS locator, MapPoint can provide you with turn-by-turn GPS directions for a smoother experience of navigating the road. Also, some versions even offered voice-enabled driving directions.
10. Points of Interest
The mapping software simplified discovering, customizing and saving points of interest on the map so that you can come back to it and visualize opportunities and routes as per your priorities.
The Pros and Cons of Microsoft MapPoint
Using Microsoft MapPoint brought in multiple advantages for small and medium businesses alike. Here are a few of those:
- It digitized the mapping process, saving people precious time
- It minimized manual routing errors, saving unnecessary expenses
- It provided seamless data analysis, helping users target the right prospects
- It offered data imports/exports in multiple formats
- It improved collaboration among team members, contributing to business growth
However, like every other system, the mapping application had its share of disadvantages that included the following:
- Lack of regular updates on the out-of-operation addresses
- Less user-friendly interface
- An expensive solution to buy for small businesses
The Alternatives of Microsoft MapPoint
After its last update in December 2013, Microsoft MapPoint was discontinued in 2014. Fortunately, many software solutions similar to MapPoint are now available in the market, such as Maptitude, Upper Route Planner, and Maplytics by Inogic. Such software enables you to plan, create and optimize your routes more effectively.
Each of these mapping solutions comes in with distinct features and functions. Thus, it's critical to first understand the application's offerings, along with your requirements and expectations out of it, to choose the best-fit option.
Microsoft MapPoint streamlined mapping for its users with its unique graphics and robust route planning & optimization capabilities over the years. With technology undergoing continuous evolution since then, today's route planners are much more advanced, accurate, and easy to use.
Furthermore, most of them empower you to do much more than just optimize your routes. So, now is the time if you've been thinking of switching to a powerful route planning software. Take a step, identify your needs, find the best-fit system and use its trial version before upgrading to a paid plan.
About the author
Riddhi Patel is a content marketer who writes about digital marketing, branding and, marketing tips. With a proficiency around Microsoft Tools, she writes content covering news, updates and trends to help businesses grow. Say hi to Riddhi on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/p-riddhi