Best SMB Solution
Compugen says its philosophy is to enable customers rather than simply sell a technology to solve a problem.
Marty Grosh, director of enterprise services, described this philosophy when asked about the company’s approach to the application which was declared the Best SMB Solution at the Channel Elite Awards.
“We often believe our customers may own the tools and technologies to solve their problems, it’s just a matter of not having a process, a unified solution or taking advantage of technologies they may already own,” Grosh said.
For Isotechnika Inc., an Edmoton drug research and development company, the challenge was to improve the time to develop and approve clinical documentation using its existing technologies.
“They owned the (Micrsoft) Office suite and used a Window’s server, which enabled them to use the SharePoint technologies. So it was a matter of coming up with a process that allowed the many stakeholders to collaborate on documents going through approval and allow them to do it accurately, eliminating some of the errors and time it took in the past,” explained Grosh.
Compugen assisted in the deployment of SharePoint Services, InfoPath, Windows Rights Management and digital signatures to create a rapid environment for collaborating on drug research and approval compliance.
The groups working on these documents are physicians, scientists and researchers, Grosh said. “Their goal in life is not writing documents, it’s finding cures for diseases and for them any way to avoid the administrative nature of collaboration was key.”
The solution allowed workers to have secure access to documents on any device and still be able to sign off electronically on phases within the process. According to Grosh, the key savings for Isotechnika were in the protocol review stage and in the final report preparation.
“Documentation time per drug testing program was reduced by nine weeks in a typical one year process,” he added.
Second, Third Place
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will never be out of key thanks to a new network design as well as an Exchange and Windows migration implemented by Insight Canada. The solution secured the company second prize.
“Of course budgets are always a challenge, but it’s working with the client and being able to give them ultimately what it is they need and training them on how to utilize and get the most out of the product,” said Annie Potvin, senior manager of products and marketing.
The third runner-up in this category was The Connections Group for its Web-based application platform that enabled ComVida Corp. to sell its products without requiring the customer to purchase an SQL server, saving tens of thousands from its initial purchase budget.
Software Spectrum Canada Ltd.
The winner of the gold award for best E-Solution this year is Software Spectrum of Mississauga, Ont.
Software Spectrum is a member of CDN’s exclusive Top 10 club. The company’s E-solution deals with the on-going issue of compliance.
Called Media Plane, it ties into a customer’s existing procurement modules and enforces purchasing standards by creating automated workflow approval rules.
Media Plane generates instant snapshots of software entitlement and usage.
It maximizes software investment and keeps control of licences, which have been a major pain in this industry for years.
For the CIO, these processes are automated and transparent and help ensure compliance to Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, along with managing IT spending.
Neville Driver, who spearheaded the Media Plane solution, said companies use procurement modules from SAP, Seibel, PeopleSoft, i2 and others to buy and track their software investments.
However, sometimes these modules within these programs have been customized to legacy systems, thereby losing their off-the-shelf characteristics.
“Using these modules, especially in organizations where software procurement is automated and online, is not cost-effective and thereby not efficient,” Driver said.
To make matters worse, when employees leave the company, that licence suddenly does not become worth the money paid for it.
Also, tracking company software has become guess work, according to Driver.
He added that maverick spending without factoring in discounts available from vendors has also become a challenge facing many companies.
Media Plane maximizes software investments and gives back entitlement to the customers.
It does so by helping them regain control of the way they purchase, deploy and manage software.
Silver in Sudbury
The silver award winner in Best E-Solution goes to one of Microsoft’s top solution providers, Navantis, for its work with the City of Sudbury.
Navantis helped the city connect its community of more than 900 groups through a citizen-centric Web portal to become one of the most connected towns in Canada.
Navantis’ Community Municipal Portal, based on Microsoft technology, acts as a gateway for communities to link government, business and citizens.
The third place winner is The Connections Group Networking Inc. of Coquitlam, B.C. It built a Web-based application that enables customers to check shift changes and scheduling online.
Best Service Organization
WBM Office Systems
Five years ago a Saskatoon solution provider decided to overhaul the way it dealt with customers.
“It started with the idea of moving away from the auto-attendant-driven world where it’s up to you to decide what buttons to push,” said JoeAnne Hardy, vice-president of service operations at WBM Office Systems.
“We did not want someone that would direct your calls, but someone who could really help you, who would log your calls, tell you when a technician would be available, who could process all kinds of requests.
“The goal has been to handle every call with a single point of contact so you don’t end up being transferred through our organization.”
The refinements made since then led our judges to declare WBM Office Systems as having the nation’s best reseller service organization.
The company specializes in printing, telecommunications and networking solutions.
Leverage SAP system
It began by building a six-person customer care centre leveraging the company’s SAP enterprise resource management system.
The system logs calls and tracks customer contacts, allowing call centre staff immediate access to details such as what piece of equipment has been serviced and the status of parts ordered.
A service co-ordinator in each of the three cities WBM operates in (Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary) was appointed to oversee the work of its 16 IT, nine telecommunications and nine hard copy technicians.
To ensure standards are kept high, what Hardy called a “rigorous” online customer satisfaction survey was added last year and is sent to companies immediately after each service call is closed.
“That feedback comes directly to me every morning,” she said, “and I personally follow up with those clients that aren’t satisfied.”
Staff salaries and performance reviews are tied to the surveys.
Negative comments are not only as a method of seeing where WBM can improve, she said, but also “as an opportunity to make a graceful recovery and to make the client relationship stronger.
“It keeps that channel of communications directly with the end users open, because a lot of times we may not be dealing with the person who called in the call.”
It’s a busy centre: Last April, for example, it handled 3,200 calls.
Supporting the application were testimonials from the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation and Hitachi Canadian Industries.
Next on Hardy’s agenda to improve service is to expand support staff and sharpen their skills.
Runners-up in the category were Software Spectrum of Mississauga, Ont., followed by Digital Boundary Group of London, Ont.
Best Channel Marketing Initiative
Eric Gardiner, communications director of Toronto-based Softchoice, said winning the CDN Channel Elite Award for Best Channel Marketing Initiative was a “real topper” to the company’s year so far.
Softchoice is no stranger to this awards program. Last year, Adam Belzycki, enterprise account manager for Softchoice, won the Best in Customer Service award for his work with the company’s hospitality clients.
In 2004 the CEA awards were handed out to individuals. This year, CDN recognized that solution providers deliver products and services to satisfiy customer needs in teams.
Therefore, Softchoice is the winner instead of one individual. However, Gardiner gave compliments to Dean Williams, David MacDonald, Deidre Lipton, Edwin Jansen, Hafiz Gafoor, Heidi Nisker, James Corless, Jason Watkins, Jenna Mann, Jennifer Lynn, Lisa Vivian, Nick Foster, Patrick Duggan, Rob Potwin and Belzycki.
Going for gold
What prompted this channel marketing initiative was SoftChoice’s Live-Inventory managed service.
According to Gardiner, Live-Inventory worked flawlessly, but customers were simply too busy to get an understanding of the complex service.
The company decided to re-brand the service as TechCheck, and added a service layer in the form of a one-hour meeting between a customer a and LiveInventory expert.
“The solution was in place and the TechCheck took the service upwards,” he said.
TechCheck also shorted the sales cycle dramatically, he added.
To raise awareness, the SoftChoice marketing team encouraged customers to see online demonstrations.
The company’s field sales team got involved and actively promoted TechCheck to every account.
To date, more than 50 per cent of the sales team have sold TechCheck.
From there, the team decided to partner with Microsoft Canada and gave a free version of TechCheck away with every Microsoft enterprise application sale.
The company also used print and Web-based advertising that generated more than one million print impressions to qualified IT people.
Since the marketing initiative was launched LiveInventory has grown 73 per cent.
The silver award went to Voda Computer Systems Ltd. of Kamloops, B.C. for its Data Storage Conference. The event brought a ten-fold return on investment and generated an unprecedented number of leads.
The bronze award went to WBM Office Systems of Saskatoon for its Smart Print campaign.