Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: ACCEO Solutions Inc. from Montreal, Quebec

Mobile Solution description

ACCEO Solutions developed a mobile solution for an aerospace company that allows salespeople to improve their interactions with potential clients. The aerospace company was looking for a flexible, user-friendly mobile app to highlight the competitive advantages associated with its aircraft, when its models were compared with each other and with those of its competitors. The aerospace company also required synchronization with its Salesforce.com database, and the ability to use the app offline if needed. The app allows a salesperson on the road — at a major trade show, or at a client’s site — to take a conversation with a prospect further by making comparisons of different airplane models in real time. The prospect can select the aircrafts he wants to compare (up to four from the aerospace company portfolio or competitive portfolios). The app was designed to be functional as well as visually appealing and “cool,” using aircraft pictures and graphics to demonstrate aircraft characteristics like: distances during takeoff and landing, pictures of floor plans, cockpits, Average Operating Cost per Hour and so on that can be compared on the same screen. The salesperson can then request that a report be sent directly to the prospect.

What type of mobile architecture was deployed and how were these decisions made with security in mind?

The side-by-side mobile (SBSM) app was custom-designed for the aerospace company to meet the company’s specific requirements, including synchronization with its Salesforce.com customer relationship management (CRM) system. ACCEO Solutions designed the app to provide log usage events and send that information to Salesforce.com in order to understand how the app is being used and how often. The mobile tool-kit app automatically detects updates and offers installation options to the user. It also provides the user with the ability to send a customized report to a potential client via email. In order to access sensitive customer information in the CRM system, the user has to be logged into Salesforce.com, so security is managed directly through access to the CRM system. The aerospace company chose to use the iPad as its mobile device platform and the Adobe Flex programming language for development of the app. Flex provides the aerospace company with the option to migrate to other mobile platforms in the future. It also allows for database commonality between the mobile app and the desktop app.

How does this solution push the boundaries of a typical mobile computing solution and qualify as innovative?

ACCEO Solutions could not find a similar app on the market designed specifically for the aerospace industry. While there were some basic tools available, the app had to be custom-designed to meet the aerospace company’s requirements to connect to its CRM system and provide a high level of security. The app had to be robust enough to provide multiple technical comparisons — including comparisons with competitors — but it also had to have great visual impact, to be “sexy,” to promote the aerospace company’s reputation in the industry as a forward-thinking thought leader. What makes this app unique is the ability for the potential client to decide what he wants to compare; it’s live, interactive and completely customizable to the client’s needs, and at the end of the conversation the salesperson can email a customized report directly to the client. This experience simply could not be created on a PC.

Why was this type of mobile solution the right choice for this business case?

The aerospace company’s salespeople typically interact with prospects on the road, often at major aerospace trade shows around the world. A single deal represents a significant amount of revenue, so each and every interaction with a prospect is critical. As a result, the aerospace company required a solution that was as mobile as its salespeople. Mobility was essential, but so was the ability to create an impact — enough to take the conversation with a prospect to the next level. Using the iPad allows salespeople to take full advantage of the features and functionality of that platform, such as the ability to select multiple options with the touch of a finger or to open multiple windows on the same screen for side-to-side comparisons, as well as crisp, high-definition graphical displays that show off the features of the aerospace company’s aircraft models.

How was the success of the system measured and what were the results?

Previously, salespeople were using print catalogues in their meetings with prospects. These catalogues were updated once a year, so salespeople didn’t always have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips. There was also no way for potential clients to interact with the data, and salespeople would have to wait several days to get a requested report back from the aerospace company’s business analysts. The client is highly satisfied with the results of its new mobile solution. Instead of rewriting technical specs every year for a print catalogue, salespeople now have a tool that automatically links and updates information in real time from the CRM system to the mobile app on their iPad. Instead of waiting several days for a business analyst to send back a report, a salesperson can request a report through the mobile app, which is emailed directly to the prospect. This helps to accelerate the sales process with potential customers and gives the aerospace company a competitive advantage over its industry rivals. The mobile app also allows the customer’s marketing department to track and monitor the types of comparisons being made by prospects, such as which client models are being compared with which competitors’ models. This provides invaluable marketing information, and helps to promote campaign visibility and teamwork between marketing and sales.

How did the design and implementation of the solution break new ground for you as a solution provider?

The challenge with this project was to meet the client’s expectations, when they weren’t exactly sure what they wanted the end result to look like. This required an agile approach and an ability to adjust to any changes or modifications at any point during the process. ACCEO Solutions presented the aerospace company with a technical and graphical storyboard to show them what a mobile app could look like and helped them to define how they wanted the tool to function. ACCEO Solutions managed the project in an agile mode, with a detailed weekly review and presentation to the aerospace company. This unique approach helped evolve their ideas into a mobile solution that best suited their needs — and one that can continue to evolve as their needs evolve. Another challenge for ACCEO Solutions was connecting the client’s CRM system to the mobile app. While a connector existed on the market, ACCEO Solutions found it didn’t work properly, so they had to develop their own connector and use web services so requests could be sent directly to Salesforce.com.

How does the solution further your client’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

Though the project wasn’t specifically part of a green agenda, because of its nature it allows salespeople go entirely digital and forgo the use of print catalogues (which were reprinted every year). Reports are generated in the cloud; salespeople have the ability to send a report, and to save, maintain and update report templates — all without paper. While the process is much more efficient, it’s also a greener way of doing business.

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