The power of maps.
My son’s second grade class has been learning about maps and, last week, I had the opportunity to introduce the class to GIS (geographic information system) software.
Once I got over the fear of being in front of twenty-two unpredictable kiddos (way more intimidating than a room full of executives!), it was important to find a simple way to explain why visualizing things on a map is so powerful and how it truly helps us make better decisions. I decided the best way to get their attention, was to show them where they live on a map and have some fun from there. So, I prepared a spreadsheet with their addresses, along with their school’s location, and geocoded the class onto my map.
The kids were beyond excited to see their names on a map (names and addresses changed here for their privacy) and quickly answered my questions, such as:
Who lives closest to the school?
Who lives farthest from the school?
How many people live within 5 miles of the school?
Then, they added their own curious questions – which two students live the closest to each other? The two farthest from each other? How far is my house from the school?
I added a point file of toy stores across the county and the discussion evolved into an entertaining brainstorm about where they would place a toy store, if they could open their own store. I’m proud to report that it didn’t take long for them to realize that nearby traffic generators, like a good coffee shop or grocery store, would increase the chances their parents would pop into the toy store for a visit :-).
As we neared the end of our time together, I pulled out a piece of paper on which there was list of their names and addresses and asked a simple question…
How many of the questions we answered today could we have answered if we just had this list?
Even in this basic example, the kids were able to see how mapping highlights spatial trends and patterns in ways that a spreadsheet cannot (and don’t get me wrong, I love a good spreadsheet!).
What resources have you committed to understanding your customer/member base and how they interact with your branches and ATMs?
What starts as basic questions of how close your customers live to their favorite branch or what percentage of the market you’ve captured, advances into telling trends about where your customers find it most convenient to transact, which members are using which channels, and how to tweak your physical distribution network to best meet their needs and maintain your expenses. You’ve got the data, we’ll bring the geospatial lens and industry experience to translate your unique situation into an actionable strategy.