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I just wrapped up the first Virtual Earth web casts as a part of our new ongoing series to keep people informed about opportunities for leveraging Virtual Earth and to keep you abreast of what’s new in the Virtual Earth product group and what’s storming in my brain that just needs to get out. In February, I focused on the Retail industry and how location plays well with many of the things you do whether it be a store locator, a line of business application, fleet management applications or business intelligence applications. The web cast recordings are now available for those who missed the web casts. You can click on the respective links below:

As a context for the web casts, I explain that given the current economic state it is critical to retain as many customers as you can. Ensure that YOUR brand is the brand they remember and you can do that on your commercial web site. EVERY retail customer, and I mean EVERY customer, tells me that given the course of a year their store locator is THE most hit upon section of their web site. If most of your users are heading for the store locator, you have to make the most of it by pushing down as much information as you can, but still provide a great user experience. Virtual Earth allows for you to custom fit tons of information on a map-based user interface. Adding aerial photography, especially our Bird’s Eye photography, just increases the richness of the experience of really seeing where a location is before leaving and potentially, accidentally stumbling upon your competitors. For some users, your store locator could be the first experience they ever have with your brand – having never set foot in one of your stores. It’s important to make the experience a good one.

There are tons of tidbits like this in the web cast given my 10+ years of scoping, architecting, coding and deploying web-based mapping applications. I’m giving you free insight into what you’re probably going to pay someone to tell you and they’d only be half right (and they’d have to contact someone like me to get that half right). So, leverage these web casts and make the most of what you get from them.

Also, the next set of web casts for March, 2009 are set. In the first web cast, I’ll be honing in on the Hospitality Industry and how location plays a critical component. Hotels, restaurants, theme parks, etc. all need Virtual Earth to help with their business. The second web cast will be focused on Fleet Management where I’ll discuss the opportunities for fleet management to leverage Virtual Earth to help visualize their business information and make informed decisions for things like saving on gas costs, rerouting information and geofencing alerts. When the registration for these web casts is available, I’ll post them up to my blog or you can visit the Virtual Earth Web Cast Series web site for more information as web casts are announced and released.

If you tuned in, thank you. If you didn’t tune in you can listen to the recorded versions; and, when you’re done…thank you.

CP