Microsoft recently released a SQL Server 2008 add-in for MapPoint. MapPoint is Microsoft's business mapping application and gives users the power to visualize business data and communicate insights in a new way. It enables them to integrate maps into the work they do in Microsoft Office, and with MapPoint 2009 they also receive new geographic and demographic data, greatly enhanced GPS functionality, and a version that comes with a GPS locator.
Deborah Rappaport, MapPoint product manager at Microsoft, recently gave 5 Minute Briefing additional insights into the nature of the MapPoint application. "MapPoint is used to map business data quickly," she explains. "It is beneficial in a wide variety of business analyses, such as showing a shaded area map of sales by state, creating sales territories to balance workload among salespeople, charting sales by territory to see who is or is not meeting goals, or deciding where to locate a new retail store by plotting customers, competitors, and maybe some demographic data such as household income. MapPoint is an Office-like application, is easy to use right out of the box, and does not require a background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)."
With the new add-in, users have the power to visualize and manipulate their spatial data that is stored in Microsoft SQL Server 2008) on a MapPoint map. In the past, they have always been able to import their data from Excel or a comma delimited file using the data mapping wizard. Now for the first time, by using the new add-in, they can natively connect to their SQL Server 2008 spatial database right from MapPoint, pull in the respective fields, and filter the data to be visualized in MapPoint.
Some of the primary new functionalities that come with this add-in include the ability to create maps from spatial and non-spatial data stored in SQL Server 2008, customize the display of map data by using a variety of query and retrieval options and map symbolization, query/edit/insert individual rows in the database from the map, and seamlessly integrate maps into the work done in other Office applications.
Rappaport also tells 5 Minute Briefing that "putting SQL data on a map can help a business discover meaning in the data that is hidden in tabular format. Some of the key business benefits from this include the ability to view drive-times to any given store location, execute target marketing campaigns, create and resize sales territories, locate or relocate retail stores, visualize community development opportunities, and analyze real estate development.
For more information, and to download the MapPoint add-in, go here.