Google promises consumer experience for businesses with Maps Engine Pro

Google promises consumer experience for businesses with Maps Engine Pro

Summary: "Every business person will use this as the new document type," declared the vice president of Google Maps.

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Google Maps, Offers and the big wearable technology picture

Google Maps, Offers and the big wearable technology picture

Google Maps is getting a coupons and deals infusion in a move that will become increasingly handy as wearable technology accelerates.

SAN FRANCISCO---Two of Google's most powerful (and lucrative) assets lies in the Maps property and the data that comes with it.

Nevertheless, despite those treasure troves, Google Maps vice president Brian McClendon acknowledged at the Internet giant's San Francisco office on Monday that a challenging spot has proven to be the large amount of data derived from very narrow use cases somewhere in between consumer and enterprise spaces. 

To address both mapping and geo-related problems within businesses, Google is unveiling Maps Engine Pro, touted to bring the consumer Google Maps experience to businesses.

Vinay Goel, a product director on the Google Maps team, explained further during a demo that the Google Maps team have been busy thinking about how to take Maps -- admittedly a more consumer-centric product -- and make use of that in the business context.

Goel cited a recent Boston Consulting Group study that 51 percent of U.S. companies use web-based mapping services, but only five percent of employees have access to geospatial services to do their jobs.

"Every business person will use this as the new document type," McClendon declared. "The map will be just as easy to share, and Google is adding it to the arsenal of things people can customize with enterprise maps."

McClendon explained that the long-term focus within the Google Maps unit has been to make digital maps more accurate, comprehensive and useful with four now-familiar layers of data: local, imagery, Street View, and a base map.

There are approximately one million active websites and apps are using the Google Maps API, connecting more than a billion users monthly to Google Maps, according to McClendon.

Without providing a specific figure, the Internet giant asserted that "thousands" of businesses have already "Gone Google" with the Maps for Business product. That roster includes FedEx, General Electric, Disney, and the American Red Cross. Amtrak recently employed the Google Maps Engine with a new interactive train locator map, constantly posting relevant information about train locations and arrival times across the country.

McClendon continued that Google Maps Engine Pro will enable a "more powerful form of mapping,"  accessible to any business owner and employee for creating custom maps for internal and external use.

"Every business person will use this as the new document type," McClendon declared. "The map will be just as easy to share, and Google is adding it to the arsenal of things people can customize with enterprise maps."

In defending how this software is more efficient than traditional spreadsheets, Heather Folsom, product manager for Maps Engine Pro, described that users can simply upload spreadsheets to the platform to be instantly plotted and available for editing among team members and industry partners. Use cases range from plotting factory locations to identifying sales rep territories.

Maps made with Google Maps Engine Pro can be set to public or private modes, and there is a standalone mobile app for editing from tablets and smartphones. Data can be stored up to 10 layers with up to 2,000 rows per import. Driving directions are also coming soon.

On the surface, the bottom line with these updates, according to Goel, is to "enable every user to be a cartographer." But the introduction of Maps Engine Pro is only the beginning of Google's efforts to pump more mapping-related data into its vast network.

For more complex maps that need to scale, the existing Google Maps Engine is being expanded to anyone using Google's cloud infrastructure. The new access option offers a free tier of Google Maps Engine for building maps with custom data layers. Basically, this use case includes all of the same features within the enterprise offering but with a much smaller quota so users can at least get started.

To further entice users to upload their mapping data to its cloud, the Mountain View, Calif. company added a new public data program designed to enable any organization that wants to use Maps Engine to get their maps to the public for immediate data uploading and publishing maps.

Further, Google is rolling out native toolbars for Google Maps Engine with links to third-party GIS tools, such as Esri and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), authenticating users through Google accounts. Google is also teaming up with Safe Software to mirror data from an on-premise system into Google's cloud and onto the Maps Engine.

Launching today, pricing for Google Maps Engine Pro starts at $5 per user per month. The associated mobile app is rolling out for Android initially only, also launching in Google Play today. Google product managers did not specify if or when an iOS version will be introduced. 

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, SMBs, Google Apps, Web development

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3 comments
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  • Humnn,, Now we know why Google took the "MY MAPS" feature off the

    "free" APP and made it very hard to use on the "NEW GOOGLE MAPS" web UI.

    I have been using Google maps for over 4 years to keep track of my 1000+ business clients and find the location of new clients as I learn of their existence.

    Unless this product will actually replace the spread sheet I also use to keep track of sales, sales taxes, phone numbers and schedules, $5.00 a month is going to be a wast of my money.
    CutRightSharpening
  • Most business

    Is location based. Customers, suppliers, transportation, logistics, sales territories, communication networks, pipelines, marketing demographics and myriad other factors can be tied to mapping data. Document products like Power Point, Word, and Excel are industry standards because they are powerful tools for expressing, organizing, and analyzing critical business functions. A map based document standard that allowed for organizing and analyzing location based data would be a huge breakthrough and could easily become a standard business tool. I can't wait to try it out.
    krossbow
  • wearable technology

    Wearable developers, technologists, designers, telecom and hardware providers are set to attend Wearable Computing Conference 2013 in New York next November 7, the biggest forum on wearable technologies on the East Coast.
    sofiayuan