Microsoft Partner Builds on Decade of Mobility Experience
Microsoft may have come late to the mobile party, but there are partners out there who have built significant experience over the past decade.
Recognizing the emerging trend in mobility in the early 2000s, TCC Software Solutions developed an application to serve the field workers in its vertical market. Through the years, TCC has adapted its solutions to take advantage of the latest Microsoft technology and apply the lessons learned to fine-tune and expand the business.
Adapting to Changing Technology
A multi-gold and silver competency partner with 200 employees, TCC has always developed its solutions using Microsoft technology. Originally built to serve the state agency childcare field workers, TCC's eXpedite Windows tablet solution replaces paper-based systems for mobile workers.
"When we first started on Windows 8 two years ago, there wasn't much traction. Everyone was on an iPad," said Jim Pangallo, principal at TCC. "Now, two years later, we almost never hear, 'Does it run on an iPad?'"
Even customers who had previously passed on the solution because they used iPads have resurfaced after switching to Windows 8 tablets. Pangallo believes that Windows 8 tablets are finally taking off in the enterprise and public sector markets.
Another Microsoft solution that has expanded options for TCC clients is Dynamics CRM. TCC uses Dynamics CRM to collect the information that is gathered through the eXpedite mobile application. While eXpedite can link into any back-end system, TCC often recommends Dynamics CRM to clients to reduce costs and enable rapid development.
"eXpedite collects the data in the field which is then synchronized to Dynamics CRM using Scribe integration toolsets," Pangallo said. "Integration is often the hardest part of any project and Scribe simplifies the process. It's easier on us and for the people who are testing on the back-end."
Key to Success: Understand How the Field Force Works
While the mobile application leads initial discussions with clients, TCC's greatest success comes in helping clients understand and define their processes.
"We find that while clients want a mobile application, they often don't have their processes in place," noted Adam Clark, senior systems architect of mobile technology at TCC. "Our biggest success comes in working with clients to define their business processes and then helping them apply those from the user to the executive."
For TCC, the requirements gathering includes getting the whole team together, including management, field workers and IT, to understand and agree on business processes. Management often has misconceptions about how work is actually being accomplished in the field. The entire group must define and agree on the business processes that will work.
"The software enforces the standardized business process," Pangallo said. "Success comes when everyone in the field is doing their job consistently, in line with the processes that they have all agreed to."
The Importance of User Interface
In the early days of eXpedite implementations, TCC had to train users how to use a tablet. Since today's users are more sophisticated, adoption is no longer a hurdle. But sophisticated users also have higher expectations of the application interface. To ensure a consistent user experience, the TCC development team closely follows the Microsoft recommendations on interface design.
"Microsoft has done a really good job of putting together the whole UX standard," Clark noted. "If you follow their standards, when someone uses your application, they will see a familiar interface."
Expanding into New Vertical Markets
In several states, eXpedite has built leadership in its vertical market of state childcare agencies. Working now to expand the industries that it serves, TCC looks at trends in specific markets to identify those with potential.
"We can easily apply what we have learned in childcare to other verticals -- industries that have traditionally been paper-intensive and have large mobile workforces," said Paul Koscielski, director of business development at TCC. "We are looking at both public- and private-sector verticals."
As TCC identifies its specific industries, it launches targeted marketing campaigns using a variety of marketing tactics. Through telemarketing, seminars and digital marketing, the company focuses messaging for each market on the specific challenges that eXpedite solves for that industry.
For those partners expanding their mobile offerings, it's helpful to learn from those who have been there for a while. Pangallo offers practical advice: "The reason we have been successful is that we listen to the user and give them a product that they need. We help our clients define their processes and follow through with a solution that fits. We are very customer-focused. If you do those things and have talented people, you're on the right track."
How are you helping clients take advantage of mobile technology? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.
Posted by Barb Levisay on October 15, 2014