12 Aug 2015

Winners of the Innovation Lab competition to modernise mobile workforce

When we catch up with Acrodyne’s business services manager Andrew Leetch, he’s very excited about winning Brennan IT’s inaugural ‘Innovation Lab’ competition – and the prize of $30,000 in services and technology.

“It’s absolutely huge for us,” Leetch said.

Acrodyne, a specialist in actuation, process instrumentation and control solutions, will use the prize to modernise its mobility environment used by its field force sales and service teams.

The sales team visits both end users as well as reseller partners.

“There’s a lot of face-to-face transactions and a lot of time they spend out of the office,” Leetch said.  “They were finding quite a lot of administration work and playing catch-up once they got back to the office.”

The company set about making life easier for the field force by deploying a mobility environment where the sales team can access email and Acrodyne’s SAP enterprise resource planning system via apps on an iPad.

The service team has the same environment, but with the benefit of editable PDF forms that enables them to write up documentation at a client site.

Though this environment enabled “huge” productivity improvements, it wasn’t perfect. It did not provide real-time access to all information that the field force wanted from the corporate system, and business intelligence reports could not be generated on-demand.

“The word we got from regular feedback was that it was a bit ‘cumbersome’ or ‘clunky’ to get in and access documents,” Leetch said.

“What we’re hoping to do is to increase that usability of our mobility systems.

“The crux of it really was to have a fully mobile workforce that can work on our system and access shared files as well as view real-time business intelligence reports as easily from their car as from their desk.

“All of this needs to have built-in security and data protection for backups, and needs to provide the ability to access technical information and brochures on-demand. That’s where we’re trying to get ourselves to.”

Even before entering The Innovation Lab Competition, Acrodyne had started to take some steps towards this goal by deploying new server hardware, which will run Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.

The company also plans to shift from a Hosted Exchange environment to Office 365 and to deploy Skype for Business with presence for internal communications and videoconferencing.

“That way when our sales and service teams are out on the road they can still actually dial into meetings and still be as connected as if they were in the office – potentially even more so in some respects,” Leetch said.

Acrodyne then hopes to integrate Office 365 with its SAP system.

“Essentially what we’ll be able to do is run activities from SAP and have those flow directly through to our standard Outlook calendars,” Leetch explained.

With such big plans for mobility modernisation and productivity improvement, Leetch believes Brennan IT’s support will get Acrodyne to its goal faster and with more benefits than it could have achieved by itself.

“Being able to have the access to this extra funding allows us to really finish the project properly,” he said.

“So rather than just getting hardware in place, getting it up and running and leaving it at that, we can actually spend time getting the most out of it.

“Generally whenever we’ve put new hardware in place we’ve only ever really got maybe 60% or 70% of its capability from it, whereas we’re hoping now to really achieve all the possible benefits this new platform can offer.”