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, Ontario

Describe the solution or service your provide.

SELA Canada in partnership with our parent company, SELA Group launched our innovative “3 Weeks Start to Store” program to enable companies to accelerate time-to-market for their Windows 8 apps.

“For us this gave us the opportunity to continue building our audience and really have a cool new product in a place where they are at – which is Windows 8.” Jeremy Gutsche, Founder of Trend Hunter The number of smartphones in use worldwide has now broken the 1 billion mark, and according to IDC this reflects growth of 44 per cent. I

t 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 per cent, 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.

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. Our program is designed to help any company who needs to augment internal resources or fully outsource the development of their app.

One of our clients this year was Trend Hunter. “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.

What made your service of the highest quality? Provide measurable evidence of how you benefitted the customer’s business.

With the evolution of Windows 8 and the new Windows smart phone, tablets and Surface devices being used by thousands of potential Trend Hunter followers, Trend Hunter needed their Windows 8 and Windows Phone App in the Windows Marketplace ahead of launch. Launch was just around the corner so they needed to work fast.

When they met with SELA Canada, the clock was ticking and there was not much time left to make the deadline. This meant no second chance. SELA Canada had to get it right the first time. SELA Canada put the “3 Week Start to Store” program in place and exceeded even the user’s expectations. Utilizing a global resource team, SELA was able to design the App and manage the project out of Canada while development and testing occurred in Israel and Seattle.

The client was involved in all stages of the project and using the power of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) was 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.

The program met the guarantee with the Windows Phone App developed in two weeks and the Windows 8 App in three. Highly rated by users, the App was selected as a Top App by Microsoft Canada meeting Trend Hunters expectations of a superior application that would trend on its own.

Describe how services were delivered in a timely fashion, or how the response to a crisis was above and beyond the usual.

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. Globally, SELA develops significant training materials for Microsoft and SELA Canada utilizes these same experts on the “3 Weeks Start to Store” program. These materials include: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using HTML5 and JavaScript.

How does your service surpass competitors in meeting the needs of customers?

Probably the most exciting thing that has happened to SELA Canada is that by focussing on the newest Microsoft technologies – TFS, Visual Studio, Windows 8 – and developing programs around educating and helping our customers adopt Microsoft technology, we have tripled our business here in Canada since WPC 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. Two years ago we were 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.

The investment has paid off. And not just for us. Customers are reaping the benefits with our “3 Weeks Start to Store” program as a prime example. When it comes to winning with our “3 Weeks Start to Store” program, it is really about engaging customers to include Windows 8 and Windows Phone as part of their offering to the market. So it is about messaging the critical nature to a client of offering their app across all platforms and including Windows as a key player in their “go-to-market” strategy. 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. “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 In the case of Trend Hunter, they were compelled to add Windows to their line-up because their own trends were already telling them that Windows 8 and Windows phone were trending up.

“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 This project was such a success story Microsoft decided to produce 2 case study videos and post them as part of the six case studies on Microsoft Canada homepage http://www.buildforwindows.ca (Trend Hunter: The Business Story & Trend Hunter: The Developer Story)

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

By building a smart mobile app which caches the information, Trend Hunter app users can browse through the popular trends without consuming data over cellular. This saves energy and data by reducing bandwidth by not having to re-request the same information from the server over and over again.

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