Case study: Mobilizing a Brewery

To speed communications and reduce the need for administrative help, Britain's St. Austell Brewery is giving sales reps on-the-road e-mail

St Austell Brewery is speeding up decision-making and getting information to its sales team on the road by using mobile technologies.

The Cornish brewery has been running two projects - one to provide key workers with email on the move and another to give its sales team better access to information on the road.

David Saunders of the brewery's IT project team explained: "Our goal is to improve communications and be able to send the right documents to the right people and give them information when they want it."

The brewery has signed up to Orange Office Freedom to give 50 workers access to email when they are away from their desks. Saunders said: "Now we have users that walk around on the site that have email strapped to their belts and it's a good form of communication."

It also has 40 users of its sales application which allows staff on the road to get quicker access to customer records.

Saunders told "Instead of demanding a lot of admin support we've pushed that back out onto them. It works towards improving our services because we can offer information faster to our customers."

Sales staff can make 200 customer visits per month and can load information - such as details of previous visits, current discounts or orders before they start the day's work. Information - such as sales of particular beers - can also be downloaded on demand. And they can use the printers they carry to give customers information they would otherwise have to get through the post.

Saunders said: "They can give customers 85 per cent of the stuff on demand and they don't have to pick up the phone and ask for it. Now I can do that while we are having coffee and talking about the account. It's all been aimed at getting the information that our sales team needs to them when they need it."

The brewery is looking to develop mobile computing further, with plans to roll out a handheld application for quality control and health and safety checks at its pubs, a process currently conducted on paper.

It is also looking at an 'ePod' electronic point of delivery project, which would see the drivers of its drays (delivery vehicles) equipped with handhelds.

During 2007 the drays will use the devices to record what they are delivering and customers will sign on the handheld to confirm delivery, getting a printed receipt.

Saunders said: "It's trying to put together the right pieces of technology at the right time."


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