Support, Training Keys to Making Mobility Work

Ann All
MIDMARKET CIO FORUM

Learn first-hand how leading technology providers are developing midmarket technologies to solve key business and strategic challenges.

I've made the same mistake as many moms through the ages when it comes to pets. We've had a dog for several years. Last spring, my son talked me into bringing home a couple of anoles and a crayfish from the school science lab by promising he'd take responsibility for their care. Then this summer, he used basically the same spiel to convince me to adopt a cat from the local animal shelter. I don't think I have to tell you who does most of the feeding, watering and litterbox cleaning at our house.

 

Like all kids, he gets excited by the fun aspects of having a pet while glossing over the work required in looking after them. Adults aren't that different, really, even ones who run enterprise technology programs.

 

I recently interviewed Sean Poccia, director of Information Services for Comag Marketing Group, about the company's mobility deployment, which has saved the company money, boosted the efficiency of field sales and marketing teams and given it a competitive edge over its rivals. So I asked him the keys to his program's success. He named solid support, not the latest and greatest technology, as the top requirement for a successful mobility program. He told me:

If you're going to ask somebody to embrace real-time interaction with an application, you better be able to provide real-time support. With mobility, we get so excited with the new shiny toys and we do a great job with development and deployment, but then we forget about the ongoing support. If you don't modify the support program to mimic the general expectations for the mobility program, it won't work. That's where a lot of companies fail. If you've got a guy sitting in a store connected over broadband and the application fails and the guy leaves the store without entering his data, you've had a failure.

Comag outsourced its help desk so its small IT team of 27 didn't have to handle support. In addition to addressing hardware, operating system and Internet issues, the help desk also troubleshoots application issues. Comag also extended the hours help desk personnel are available and created a self-service support portal. The result, Poccia said, is greater user satisfaction

 


Providing reliable support is one of the best ways to encourage employee adoption, which Poccia told me can often be a challenge. Before Comag, a marketer of newsstand magazines, outfitted 200 employees in the field with Panasonic Toughbooks running Microsoft Dynamics CRM applications, Poccia said the workers typically spent four days a week visiting newsstand locations gathering data and then wrapped their work week with a day spent manually entering it into spreadsheets that were then sent to the corporate office. Spending an extra day in stores obviously boosted their productivity, and Comag was able to add 10 percent more stores without increasing staff.

 

In addition to support, providing adequate training is another key to gaining employee buy-in. It was an especially big challenge for Comag, thanks to its dispersed work force. Comag contracted with a local video-production facility to create training DVDs and distributed them to staff. It also made available a written tutorial. The company appointed a staffer to be the owner of all its training initiatives. Part of her role involves recording all changes relevant to the work force, such as tweaks to the CRM applications, and making the information available and searchable fon its internal training site, which Poccia describes as "kind of like an internal YouTube."



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