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Real-Time Data in the Field

By APICS partners | July/August 2013 | 23 | 4

Eaton Hydraulics wished to take its sales processes mobile. They chose Antenna Software, an enterprise mobility platform provider, to develop what came to be called the PowerSource app.  Tablet app mobilizes hydraulic manufacturer’s sales force 

CHALLENGE: Enable efficient, on-site sales operations for a large catalog of products 
SOLUTION: Mobile application developed by Antenna Software
COMPANY: Eaton Hydraulics
FACILITIES: Headquartered in 
Beachwood, Ohio
OPERATION: Manufacturer of power 
management products and components

The challenge
Eaton Corporation delivers energy-efficient solutions to assist companies with their electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical power management challenges. Eaton’s hydraulics group manufactures a large portfolio of components and more than 200,000 products. However, the company lacked an efficient way to manage sales processes. 

Field representatives had to carry a collection of large, printed manuals to sales meetings. Additionally, teams contended with a professional but time-
consuming sales process. Salespeople would take extensive notes in the meetings, and then return to the office to enter the information into order management systems. Often, this process meant several days would pass between initial customer contact and providing a sales proposal or contract. 

Eaton leaders saw an opportunity to transform field operations, shorten sales cycles, and provide a differentiated customer experience. “We knew that having access to current product information in the field would be increasingly critical to closing deals and growing the business,” says Eric Stager, product manager for web and mobile in the industrial sector at Eaton. The decision was made to make many of Eaton Hydraulics’ processes mobile.

The solution
Tablet computers were chosen as the preferred hardware for deployment, as they provide a catalog-like feel and have the screen space necessary to display complex products and specifications. Other basic parameters for the project included 
  • the ability to deliver Eaton’s entire catalog and ensure information was up to date
  • easy access to clean, visually compelling information
  • on-site information capture and note-taking for the sales representatives 
  • easy order entry
  • operating anywhere and under any set of conditions. 
With these initial parameters in mind, Stager and his team designed a prototype application for the iPad. After channel partner review and feedback, Eaton chose Antenna Software, an enterprise mobility platform provider, to develop what came to be called the PowerSource app.

The results
The PowerSource app is meeting all of the company’s requirements. One key to success is the ability to leverage Antenna’s cloud for wireless application updates, ensuring information is current without requiring any additional infrastructure investment.

The app has reduced the sales cycle from weeks to days and, in some cases, hours. This has increased the number of deals closed on the first day of engagement and driven sales growth. Up-to-date product information and pricing contribute to optimizing margins and improving market position. The customer experience also has been enhanced, with quotes and information available at the sales team’s fingertips. 

Faster product selection and ordering processes provide Eaton with a unique competitive differentiator, enabling field sales representatives to fulfill needs without delay. Customers do not have to wait and risk costly operational downtime. The app also enables the company to reduce traditional customer service calls, as field representatives are empowered with more information on the road. Additionally, Eaton was able to cut costs associated with print materials because the business no longer prints significant numbers of hard copy catalogs. 

“Ultimately, we have developed a substantial application that is inherently mobile,” Stager says. “It is this mobility that provides our strategic and competitive advantage.”

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