Why enterprise apps need to rival the best from iTunes
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Why enterprise apps need to rival the best from iTunes

I-CIO editorial team – April 2012
With its salesforce hungry for mobile business intelligence, Life Technologies hit upon a BI app attuned to the iPad generation.

As far back as 2009, Life Technologies identified mobile business intelligence (BI) as 
a strategic priority. In particular, the $3.8 billion biotech company’s salesforce, which offers highly sophisticated products and services to scientists globally, required the ability to easily and efficiently extract data from Life’s Oracle BI systems for use on their mobile devices, so enabling “smarter, on-the-go information management.”

After comparing various mobile data visualization solutions, Life opted for MeLLmo’s Roambi software. A mobile application created specifically to run on Apple’s iOS, Roambi can interface with existing BI reports from a wide range of data sources and convert them into interactive mobile dashboards for iPhone and iPad. The data is presented clearly and its manipulation is intuitive — a testament to the fact that MeLLmo executives describe their business as being first and foremost about design rather than technology.

“We are now competing at enterprise level with consumer devices.”

“During our selection process, there were two important elements,” says Joe Beery, CIO at the Southern California-based company, which sells genetic research products and services to laboratories in 160 countries. “One was the suite’s ability to connect to our back office systems. The other was the user interface — which was actually number one on our list.”

The reason for this was simple. “We are now competing at enterprise level with consumer devices and software whose interfaces are very simple and much more designed around the
 user,” says Beery. “The folks in the field expect the same ease of use from their corporate systems, so the design of the interface is paramount to the success of any application in a mobile environment.”

Beery praises the Roambi software for meeting these expectations. “Our adoption rate has been really high, and I’m convinced this is because it doesn’t look that much different from the apps our people are downloading from Apple’s App Store,” he points out.Consumer IT is “doing our training for us”

The Roambi deployment began with a pilot in January 2011, when the software was given initially to senior sales executives. The aim was to create some excitement — and therefore demand — among the entire sales team. A year later, the project’s success was such that Roambi had been made available to the company’s entire salesforce in Europe and the Americas. This then became the start of a much larger rollout of a suite of intuitive mobile apps, from a range of vendors, to empower the company’s entire workforce.

One of the biggest benefits of Roambi was the minimal training required, says Beery, which saved the company a small fortune in additional costs. Anyone who can use an iPad can instantly come to grips with the software — which amounts to virtually every one of Life’s tech-literate workforce — so Beery is able to confidently claim: “The consumer market is training our employees for us.”

The deployment has been a huge success with the people who actually use the software. Life’s sales teams are now able to access the data they require to make quick decisions in a matter of seconds; previously, this could have taken up to 15 minutes. And, because they may only have a few moments to engage with a potential customer, those saved minutes have proven invaluable. “Life Technologies has already seen greatly enhanced productivity from sales reps’ use of the iPad and its associated apps,” confirms Chris O’Leary, the company’s CRM usability manager.

Beery explains that he and his colleagues are now considered heroes by the sales team. “In the past, you might find that those solutions bubbled up through other business groups,” he says. “But it’s good to see them come from the IT group. Right now, we’re pretty popular.”
First published April 2012
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