Division general manager Peter James told iTWire that the PDAs the company had been using as the basis of a mobile order-taking system were overdue for replacement. Rather than buying new PDAs, the company decided to seek a more functional alternative.
Incumbent ERP provider ADEPT Business Systems was approached, and it turned out that "the cost was not too horrendous" to gain mobile access to ERP and CRM information. ADEPT's eSales software supports multiple device types, but the company settled on iPads for several reasons.
The sales team had varying levels of technical skills, and "Apple's not scary," said Mr James. "As soon as they knew it was going to be Apple [iPads], everyone was comfortable."
The use of tablets helps attract and retain younger staff, he said, noting that one person in the company's Perth office has gone completely "pen free" keeping all notes and records in the system.
Page 2: More advantages, real benefits
In addition, Apple's FaceTime videoconferencing app makes it easy for employees based to different states to keep in touch with each other.
The ADEPT system provides sales staff with full, live visibility of stock levels and customer information. "No one's selling product that isn't in our cold store," said Mr James, so orders can be confirmed on the spot and there's no need for sales staff to check back with the office to see if a below list price offer made by a customer is acceptable.
Mr James said the new system has reduced the time sales staff spend in the office by three-quarters of a day per week. They use that extra time to meet with end users of the products (ie, Craig Mostyn's customers' customers) to create extra demand. "There's a real sales increase" as a result, he said.
The rollout was not only "the company's most successful IT project," he said, but "probably the best implementation... the easiest implementation" he has seen in a 25-year career in the fast moving consumer goods sector.