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Worldwide Manufacturer Syncs HQ, Sales Force With Saratoga Wireless

Phoenix Contact, a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of industrial automation, interconnection and interface solutions, needed an enterprise solution to keep its sales force up to date with its headquarters without a lot of additional work. The Lotus Notes r5 shop, with U.S. headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., had equipped its sales force with laptops where each had its own local database. But that local database had to be synchronized and replicated to a central database.

That created quite a challenge for the sales force that was on the road up to five days a week. Replication and synchronization “just didn’t happen during the week,” notes Larry Bassett, IT director. “Information never got to the centralized data store until the weekend.” Instead, the company had a great deal of inefficient communication because its systems weren’t up to date.

Phoenix Contact tried PDAs but found they were lacking as far as an enterprise solution was concerned. So the company set out to find an end-to-end solution that it could deploy quickly, easily integrate with its back-end systems and that didn’t require a lot of support, Bassett says.

The company turned to BlackBerry and found it beneficial in headquarters management and marketing, as well as in field sales management. But there was still a piece missing: access to the company’s CRM information. The company found Saratoga Wireless to fit the bill and create a truly mobile enterprise, according to Bassett.

The product offers mobile workers real-time access via any handheld device to multiple back-end systems, including CRM, ERP and financials.

“Management has been pushing IT for at least two years for some type of mobile solution,” Bassett acknowledges. “I’ve been holding them back because I really wanted a complete solution. With BlackBerry and Saratoga Wireless, we have a complete solution. Saratoga provides easy connectivity to our back-office systems.”

Phoenix Contact brought in a Saratoga consultant for one day and was up and running that very same day, Bassett says. With Saratoga Wireless, Phoenix Contact’s sales force benefits from the ability to look up account and contract information from the field, view account sales data, check stocks in real time to the ERP system and track order status, including carrier tracking.

“We now have an enterprise solution which is one device,” Bassett asserts, a cell phone, CRM and ERP all in one. And the company is saving money.

Bassett says his company budgeted for additional cost, but after rolling the system out to the entire sales force, it found that it’s not going to need that after all. “We’re already seeing a reduced cost in cell phones,” he says, adding that he expects to see even more cost savings in enterprise efficiency.

Phoenix Contact plans to push out more information to both its sales force and its executive management and product marketing staff, including integration to the data warehouse, sales performance, booking/billing, shipping performance and enterprise key performance indicators.

“BlackBerry and Saratoga Wireless is a slam dunk!” Bassett sums. “This is our wireless solution because it provides all of our needs.”

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at freelancewriter@gates-works.com.

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