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: Sela Canada from Toronto, ON

Describe the initiative

Two years ago SELA Canada was known primarily as a training company who could deliver training across a wide variety of platforms and software solutions. Our development services were under-utilized and in spite of running numerous marketing campaigns, we were unable to achieve our growth objectives. Two years ago we sat down and completed a very detailed Microsoft alignment strategy. In that strategy we identified competency gaps and realized that we needed to narrow our focus if we wanted to be successful. We established a goal to become one of Microsoft’s “go-to” partners for application development and invested in training our people, building out our competency, jointly running events with Microsoft to raise awareness and educate mutual customers. This focus enabled us to build a strong list of potential prospects and we consistently marketed to them through our bi-monthly newsletters. The number of smartphones in use worldwide has now broken the 1 billion mark, and according to IDC this reflects growth of 44%. It also represents one seventh of the global population and one sixth of mobile phone subscribers. IDC further predicts that Windows will occupy the number 3 spot in mobile operating systems. (Source: Mobithinking.com). In December 2012, it was reported that Windows market share grew to 91.74 percent, while Apple’s OS X declined. (Source: ZDnet) For companies who need to remain competitive in today’s market, making sure their apps are available across all platforms is not a “nice-to-have”, it’s a mandatory requirement. With Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform aggressively going after and winning increased mind and market share, companies have to be a player on this platform if they want to be in the game at all. Developing apps internally can often take months – a critical time period for competitive organizations. Market share can erode as users potentially substitute competitor’s products, failing to return once the switch has been made. Ensuring apps are available for download on corporate websites and in app stores is a critical go-to-market strategy. When Windows 8 was released, we realized that many companies were struggling with budget and resources to get their apps into the Windows store. It got us thinking – what if we could guarantee a delivery time. This would reduce risk for the client, guarantee budget and help us quickly penetrate new accounts. The SELA “3 Week Start to Store” is a guaranteed program that provides organizations with a savvy development and design team who are experts at ensuring the app is developed, tested and available in less than a month. Along with fast time to market, the program ensures best-in-class development standards are met so that the app released is of the highest quality, guaranteeing a positive user experience.

What makes this initiative innovative or original?

While there are a lot of application development partners, SELA Canada is unique in that we offer a guaranteed program that will deliver in under a month. This is a compelling commitment for organizations whose percentage of market share can turn on minutes. Time for these clients is of the utmost importance and “first-to-market” is a critical factor. We offer complete transparency to the client. Using TFS as our foundation, we ensure that the client is fully connected to the development team at all times. The client can see code, tasks, team members, requirements, test results, etc. They can fully participate in all development team meetings. The entire process is completely open with no hidden elements or team members. This creates an environment of trust, collaboration and consistency. We can deliver in 3 weeks because we have invested significantly in Windows 8 and Windows Phone over the past year. We have worked closely with Microsoft and spent several months learning and developing prototypes. We have made mistakes and developed scar tissue so that we aren’t learning on the client’s time. We bring confidence and experience to the project right from day one

Describe how this initiative was a benefit to the solutions provider and provide metrics to demonstrate it.

A lot of what we do in our market here in Canada is educate customers on the possibilities and power entrenched on the Microsoft platform. We sit on the board of ISTQB – the software training and quality board – and advocate for Microsoft at events and functions that we sponsor. Because of this, we had a strong list of “prospects” who were primed for our “Windows 8 Start to Store Campaign”. The campaign generated a lot of buzz and brought us into conversations and accounts that would have taken months or years to penetrate. We have tripled our business here in Canada since September 2012 and we are on track to double our growth this year. This is a phenomenal story for us and is a direct result of a concentrated strategy that we began two years ago and culminated with our “Start to Store” campaign.

How did the solution provider strengthen its relationship with the vendor?

The SELA Canada “3 Week Start to Store” program has successfully enabled our mutual customers to go to market faster with Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps. Innovative, customer centric and completely dedicated to the getting the job done, they are our ‘go-to’ partner when we need a critical path customer up and running quickly.” Rini Gahir, Business Development Manager at Microsoft Canada “SELA Canada has been a great advocate of TFS, Visual Studio and .NET, promoting our platform and methods to organizations across Canada. Their deep expertise and traction with Quality Assurance professionals helps us drive better, quicker and more engaging conversations with this important audience. They regularly sponsor events and provide high-end speakers from their global team of subject matter experts. These events attract Fortune 1000 clients and independent programmers who are exposed to the latest thinking from Microsoft. I look forward to continuing to grow this great partnership in the coming years!” Jeff Zado, Sr Solution Specialist – ALM Solutions, Microsoft.

What social media tools did you use for the initiative and how did this enhance it?

We used email newsletters to announce the campaign to our prospects. We have been diligently building an opt-in email list and communicate regularly (bi-monthly) to our prospects and clients. This approach has built trust because we focus on educating, not on selling. Because our newsletter is focussed on education-based marketing, our opt-in list has been growing at a rate of 200% annually.

In what ways did this initiative go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?

It is rare for a development team to guarantee a delivery time – particularly an aggressive one like three weeks. However we can deliver in 3 weeks because we have invested significantly in Windows 8 and Windows Phone over the past year. We have over 20 employees that we trained for the new Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms. On a global level, we invested just over a million dollars in the past year in our Windows 8 readiness program. Utilizing a global resource team, SELA designs the App and manages the project out of Canada while development and testing occurs in Israel and Seattle. The client is involved in all stages of the project and using the power of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) is able to provide feedback in real-time. “Using TFS is critical in our “3 Weeks Start to Store” program because we are building virtual eco-systems including clients, designers, developers and testers who can be located anywhere in the world at any time. TFS is the platform that keeps everything together, everyone connected and the project fully on track. Eran Barlev, Director, SELA Canada For clients this takes the risk out of getting their app into the market fast. For us, it meant penetrating brand name accounts much faster. Video Links Longo’s Grocery Gateway Video Trend Hunter Video for Business Users Trend Hunter Video for Developers http://sdrv.ms/YOpAaX Testimonials “SELA’s team of specialists accelerated our ability to go to market with our Windows 8 TalkingTiles app. Their global delivery team kept pace with our aggressive schedule, delivering a product that was of the highest quality.” Sammy V. Wahab, President and Founder, Mozzaz “We were eager to work with SELA Canada to develop our new Windows Phone 8 Grocery Gateway app,” said John Charleson, Director of IT, Longo’s Grocery Gateway. “Their proven ability to meet aggressive timelines without sacrificing quality was exactly what we needed to get into the store in time for Easter.” “SELA provided ‘Desire2Learn’ with the expertise and guidance that enabled us to get to market much faster than if we had tried to do this on our own.” Aaron Stuart, Desire2Learn “SELA is not just a vendor, they’re a partner. They go out of their way to make sure we achieve our objectives.” Alon Greener, Manager of Quality Assurance Services, Technology Services, Cancer Care Ontario “As soon as we met with SELA, we knew we were in good hands. Their experts worked rapidly and professionally and it was clear they knew their stuff. Utilizing a global team around the clock meant that the work progressed at a fast pace – without sacrificing quality. We were thrilled with the results.” Marcus Daniels, Trend Hunter “We are the world’s largest collection of cutting edge ideas. Basically we help people and brands find better ideas faster. We wanted to develop on Windows 8 because the new interface perfectly matches what we are all about and the majority of our users are using Windows anyway. Windows 8 is colourful, clean, bold and has all of the same aesthetics that we have with our own brand so we were happy to build a Windows 8 app that fits so well with our content.“ Jeremy Gutsche, Founder of Trend Hunter In the Press http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1135131/longo-s-grocery-gateway-available-on-windows-phone-8-with-sela-canada-3-weeks-start-to-store-program

How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

All of our development is done in a virtual environment so travel is not required.

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