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MapAnything and the Location of Things

While writing about disruptive technologies, we often come across ideas that are just way more brilliant than people give them credit for. One such idea came from a startup called what3words that carved the world up into a grid of 57 trillion small plots of land or water, each with a size of 3 yards by 3 yards (or 3 meters by 3 meters), then associated each square with a sequence of three random words. For example, if you wanted a pizza delivered to the picturesque city park where this article is being written, that would be miracles.decent.aspect.

This brilliant idea allows us to deliver things to practically anywhere, making the traditional notion of an address obsolete. It’s startups like what3words that help make it much easier for us to find the location of things, and that term “location of things” is now being used as a play on words of “Internet of Things” by companies like the one we’re here to talk about today – MapAnything.

MapAnything and the Location of Things

Click for company websiteFounded in 2009, Charlotte, North Carolina startup MapAnything has taken in just over $84 million in total funding to develop a “Location of Things Platform for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Field Service Management (FSM) systems.” More than half of their funding came in the form of a Series C that closed just days ago with participation from General Motors and Salesforce who led the round. With over 2,100 customers and over 150+ employees worldwide, MapAnything provides a variety of solutions that help people organize their assets geographically. The best example might be a business that has a commercial fleet of vehicles that need to embark every day on particular routes that vary each day as seen in the below example:

Example of MapAnything Location of Things platform

Source: MapAnything Website

Planning routes can get extremely complicated in a hurry, and it’s something we’ve talked about before that’s often referred to as the “traveling salesman problem.”

MapAnything and General Motors

Here’s a statement taken from the press release announcing MapAnything’s latest funding which saw participation from General Motors (GM) as an investor:

GM sales to commercial customers have grown by more than seven percent annually since 2012, and the company has delivered more than 11 million vehicles with built-in 4GLTE Wi-Fi hot spots. Last month, GM surveyed some of the country’s largest fleet managers, and more than 90 percent said connectivity has the biggest potential to transform their operations.

Now imagine that you’re a sales manager with a fleet of GM vehicles that are used by your mobile sales teams. For sales organizations, the business value of face-to-face interaction is $12 for every $1 spent on business travel, yet sales organizations spend less than one third of their time actually selling. Instead of putting together routes for your salespeople to follow in advance, why not let MapAnything create these routes in real-time using additional factors like weather, traffic, meeting cancelations, and the like? MapAnything says that multifactor scheduling and routing can increase face-to-face selling time by as much as 20%. Then there’s this whole notion of understanding just how your salespeople are behaving themselves out there in the field:

GM Telematics

Source: MapAnything Website

The last thing you need is some hothead BSD running a stop sign because he’s entering meeting notes on his smartphone while late for his next meeting. Making sure that your sales team drives safely while minimizing the usage of company vehicles and increasing facetime with customers are all obvious benefits of such a platform. Your fleet manager can easily capture the reduction in maintenance costs as a result of spending less time idling in traffic. By now you might be thinking that some predictive analytics may be just what the doctor ordered for solving something as complex as the traveling salesman problem. Why not hook up some artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and let them have a go?

MapAnything and The Optimizers

Corporate blogs usually suck from the perspective of your employees. Someone comes up with the idea of a corporate blog during some mind-numbing brainstorming session and before you know it, the MarComm team is sending out these annoying internal emails asking for “contributors.” Anyone who volunteers their time sends a clear message to their boss that they have too much spare time on their hands, so people end up being forced to contribute. Morale drops, MarComm eventually gives up, and what you end up with is some half-ass attempt at a blog with an entry every other quarter and the last one over two years old.

Just to be clear, this is not the case at MapAnything, as their CEO, John Stewart, regularly jumps on Medium (don’t judge him for his choice of blogging platforms) and espouses the merits of his amazing organization. It’s corporate blogging done right for the most part, and one thing Mr. Stewart talked about this past March was “The Optimizers“, a new team at MapAnything comprised of some of the world’s preeminent experts in decision support science.

The Optimizers

Decision support is crucial to be able to do scheduling and routing well, and routing can make or break a company’s sales, service and fleet strategies. He goes on to say:

Of respondents in a recent MapAnything survey 23% spend between 50%-75% of their time driving. Worse, 11% are spending between 75%-90% of their time driving. Driving is among the worst productivity killers .

Incredibly, we find out that something as simple as idling can cost fleet owners between $5,000-$12,000 per vehicle per year in fuel. That’s low hanging fruit for a solution like MapAnything. It’s pretty easy to pull up a “before and after” picture which shows a decrease in the amount of fuel consumed alongside an increase in customer meetings. If you’re a sales manager, that’s exactly the sort of fodder you want on display for your next performance review.

About three months after his blog post on “The Optimizers”, Mr. Stewart published another piece titled “AI is Changing the Game for Location of Things Technology” which largely talks about how the time is nigh for AI to step into the ring. He doesn’t elaborate on the use of AI within his firm, but you can bet that’s happening right now.

Conclusion

MapAnything talks about how the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for Location of Things is expected to reach $27 billion by 2022 which implies that every organization out there with a mobile workforce that commutes to client locations frequently could stand to benefit from using their solution. If you have a commercial fleet that uses telematics to monitor your vehicles, that’s just not enough. What you need is the ability to plan for your vehicles to take the most optimized travel routes which take into account things like real-time traffic updates, weather, and road construction – all variables that can change within minutes. Since MapAnything is a Salesforce app, and there are more than 150,000 customers that use Salesforce, it just makes sense that MapAnything can expect to grow their 2,000 customers into a much bigger number.

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