– Ray Pritchett, Business Unit Director
I was once again reminded of a classic Dr. Seuss book a few days ago, when I opened an invitation to a local high school graduation ceremony. The last book written under Theodor Geisel’s pen name, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is certainly an appropriate theme for graduation, as it inspires the reader to view life as a great adventure, constrained only by the limits of your imagination and other self-imposed obstacles. For those unfamiliar with the story, one of the primary obstacles in the adventure is “The Waiting Place” – a place where everyone is interminably waiting for something to happen. Applying this theme to today’s business world, I think it’s fair to say that ever-increasing internet access via broadband is making visits to “The Waiting Place” shorter and less frequent for most of us, even as we all grow less tolerant of waiting.
Still, most of us accept there are times and places when lack of broadband access dooms us (as well as our business partners and customers) to “The Waiting Place” – a place where the applications and data that we depend upon are at least temporarily unavailable. But is it possible that this, too, is a constraint imposed by our lack of imagination? In the case of one of our recent projects, the answer was clearly “yes.”
The client in this case is Best Home Furnishings, a mid-sized manufacturer and distributor of furniture, who sells their products to retail dealers both large and small, through a sales force of independent reps. Their product line is both deep and broad, with large numbers of models, fabrics, features, and options from which to choose. While they have long since used the web to extend the reach of their product catalog, customer order management, and sales analysis applications and data, their sales reps still regularly find themselves in geographic locations and other situations where web access is either non-existent or insufficient.
Best Home Furnishings’ ticket out of “The Waiting Place” came in the form of a custom-developed iPad application with its own local database. Reps can now create and display sales presentations, complete with high quality images of any products they choose, virtually anywhere and anytime. They can browse the catalog with customers at their sides and assemble quotes and orders at a desk or from a sofa on the showroom floor, while they receive immediate feedback from the customer. They can record inventory status from warehouses, and drill into a customer’s sales history, even in rural areas where cellular broadband access is spotty or unavailable. Then, when they return to their office, hotel room, or local Wi-Fi coffee shop, rather than logging on to the web site to key orders and/or generate and retrieve customer sales histories for the next day’s appointments, they simply click the “synchronize” button on the iPad app. The iPad then automatically sends orders to the customer order management database, and retrieves any new or updated catalog or customer data, all while the rep heads out to dinner with the customer (although synchronization typically completes in a matter of seconds).
Are you wasting time and money in “The Waiting Place”? Are there great new places that mobile versions of your applications and data could take your business? Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.