Addressing the questions

By Randy Burkhart  |  Posted 2008-09-29 Print this article Print

Au Bon Pain created a custom mobility strategy to serve the most up-to-date data to its team of peripatetic area directors.

To help us through the decision-making process, Enterprise Mobile addressed a number of questions, including the following:

  • What capabilities do various mobile platforms offer, in terms of handling e-mail, calendars, contacts and remote-access security?
  • What is the end-user experience?
  • What are the infrastructure requirements?
  • Could we leverage any existing infrastructure? How would that affect IT costs?
  • What’s the best solution for gaining access to a P&L application?

After getting answers to these questions, we decided the best approach would be to provide our area directors with Windows Mobile-based devices that were preinstalled with our daily P&L application. This internally developed Web-based app proved extremely valuable in helping the directors measure store performance.

Enterprise Mobile—which provided the end-to-end solution that facilitated the development and proliferation of best practices in executing Windows Mobile-powered mobility strategies—played a crucial role in developing the mobile version of our P&L application. They also helped us select the next generation of devices that would meet the needs of our team, as well as the requirements of our current carrier contracts.

We were looking for a solution that would not only give us access to information immediately, but would also provide for the reliable exchange of data, meet our security standards and be easily managed from a central location. It also had to be .NET-based to integrate with our P&L app. Ultimately, we decided to implement two Windows Mobile devices: the Motorola Q9 and Palm Treo 700w.

Because area directors had varying levels of comfort with technology and had used a variety of mobile devices in the past, Enterprise Mobile created a training series that included in-person and Webinar sessions to educate our directors on how to best use their devices. We wanted to be certain they fully understood the intricacies and features of their devices and were comfortable with the new format of the P&L. The training would enable the area directors to make the most of their smart phone and the P&L application when they were traveling to the cafés.

To ensure the success of the training, Enterprise Mobile solicited feedback from the training group on a regular basis.

From start to finish, the process was streamlined to make the transition seamless and worry-free for our area directors. And—a big plus—it was done without overburdening our IT department.

Mobility Answers Business Needs

The results of the deployment have exceeded our expectations and underscore the increasingly important role that mobility plays in helping us reach our business goals. Our area directors are already accessing the P&L application multiple times a day, and we’ve realized substantial benefits. These include:

  • Because each visit takes far less time, our area directors are able to manage several additional store visits per day.
  • Area directors are able to show café managers the real-time, up-to-date numbers that demonstrate trends in sales and provide actionable data that drives management decisions, such as adjusting inventory.

Next up in our mobility plan is the deployment of a daily labor report that will provide the area directors with real-time access to café sales and labor statistics. With this information, café managers will be able to respond immediately to fluctuations in café performance metrics, such as overstaffing. This should help improve store margins.

Enterprise Mobile made mobility work for our organization, and we will continue to rely on their staff’s technical expertise and management as we expand our mobility strategy. Furthermore, all the devices we use moving forward will be Windows Mobile-based. These devices offer the wide range of functions Au Bon Pain needs—from the Exchange e-mail server and ability to integrate with our applications to top-level security features and manageability.

As we move forward with our mobility strategy, our goals continue to be providing the best possible experience for our customers and creating greater efficiencies for Au Bon Pain—efficiencies that will save us both money and time.

Admittedly, implementing a mobile solution can be a demanding process, but it need not be a scary one. Success comes from developing and following a viable plan that links the strategic goals of the mobile deployment directly to the company’s business objectives.

Randy Burkhart is vice president of information technology at Au Bon Pain.

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