Best Mid-Market Solutions: FingertipWare
Custom mobile solution wins
FingertipWare co-founders Michael Flynn and Tim Grimes were both surprised and relieved when the company’s name was announced as the gold winner for Best Mid-Market Solution.
“Whether you win or lose, it’s a stressful moment,” said Flynn.
The three-year-old company based in Willowdale, Ont., won for a custom mobile workforce solution that helped Gencor, a farmer- directed artificial insemination cooperative for cattle, eliminate over 17,000 man hours of unproductive duplicate data entry per year.
“We had to develop an application that runs locally on a Pocket PC-Windows Mobile 2003 device with all the data, client records, inventory and cattle information,” said Flynn.
The customized Windows Mobile application synchronizes the information onto the handheld devices, allows users to build orders offline and submit orders once they are connected online, he explained.
In addition, the FingertipWare system provides dispatching, automated order taking, payment and breeding service processing.
Over 70 sales and service personnel are using the product, which is fully integrated with Gencor’s Oracle platform, accounting and order management system.
The mobile solution, which took 12 months to build and four months to deploy, uses Audiovox PPC-6600 Pocket PC phones on the Bell Mobility network and PrintekMobile MtP300LP Bluetooth mobile thermal printers.
Based in Guelph, Ont., Gencor has a mobile workforce that meets over 6,000 active members and services over 223,000 cows each year in a territory that spans over 729,000 square kilometers.
Prior to FingertipWare’s solution, Gencor’s field technicians would hand write the delivery and breeding receipts for farmers, which was both time consuming and prone to error, said Bill Seegmiller, director of field division at Gencor.
In the solution provider’s submission to CEA judges, Seegmiller said “we are able to add more information to the documents, they take less time to produce and they’re readable.”
According to Flynn, the Windows Mobile platform is beginning to garner greater interest than Palm and BlackBerry devices.
“It’s becoming the prolific device of choice especially for business people because the richness of its applications is substantial,” said Flynn.
“Since Microsoft supports the SQL Server component on handhelds, there are rich synchronization capabilities, graphical user interface capabilities and an extensive processor and memory capacity which makes the platform more than capable of delivering everything that’s required for a true enterprise integration system like a Gencor app.”
After the CEA awards, FingertipWare created an e-mail marketing campaign announcing the company’s gold win to over 400 contacts.
Flynn and Grimes already have two solutions in mind for next year’s CEA submissions. “One involves a virtual warehouse system for Ontario’s largest food charity network,” he said.
Best Mid-Market Solutions: OnX
Internal Web portal scores big
Businesses are going to great lengths these days to ensure that departmental teams across multiple geographies can communicate and collaborate efficiently.
Psion Teklogix, a global manufacturer of RFID mobile devices, relies heavily on its internal Web portal as a way of connecting workgroups that span various locations.
But with an existing Intranet portal based on old technology that was not scalable or flexible, Psion turned to Thornhill, Ont.’s OnX Enterprise Solutions for a custom Web collaboration solution tailored to the manufacturer’s needs.
The new corporate-wide employee portal, which garnered OnX the gold award for Best Mid-Market solution, is based on Microsoft SharePoint and includes SharePoint user profiles and advanced document profile search capabilities.
OnX migrated over 110,000 documents and reorganized the existing information environment into 13 vertical portals for organizational departments, executives and information intense units, said Lasse Silegren, the company’s senior vice-president and general manager of professional services.
“The actual migration of all the data happened over a weekend, while the user interface, which incorporates the corporate brand, was done over a three-month period,” he said.
The use of the new site has grown 40 per cent, according to Silegren. “They have a lot more employees using the portal for sharing information.”
For example, a team in the sales or marketing department can now easily upload new marketing collateral as it comes in and save in one place on the Intranet. “SharePoint was customized to specifically target Psion’s use of the system,” said Silegren.
For Psion Teklogix, the new portal is “a one-stop shop for product information,” said Grant Ferguson, director of information systems at Psion.
Ferguson described the versatility of the solution in OnX’s CEA submission. Psion, he wrote, “could be doing an RFID project in France and the sales people involved are interested in new features we’ve just released out of our engineering and development group. Disseminating that type of product knowledge around the company is key for our sales service teams.”
He added that the investment has helped field reps self-service, which frees product managers at corporate to focus on product development.
Though this was the first year that OnX participated in CEA, the company has had a busy year in the industry awards circuit.
“We won an award in Boston at Microsoft’s worldwide partner conference, a MISA award (municipality informa-tion systems association) and most recently, we are a finalist for a CIPA award,” said Silegren.
“It’s nice to get recognition from different organizations in Canada, it gives a lot of motivation for our internal teams when they see the solutions they’ve built win industry awards.”