Mobile CRM on Microsoft slate devices: a case study in design thinking

Good things happen when consumer understanding meets enterprise requirements with a partner willing to understand needs. This is how it works.

While at Microsoft Convergence I met with Matt Furlong, Beer Ranger with New Belgium Beer Company. These are the folk that brew Fat Tire, a firm favorite among Convergence attendees (the main conference hotel ran out of the stuff much to my horror.) Alongside, we had Jim Steger, principal with Sonoma Partners, the firm that built a mobile CRM application that works on Microsoft powered slate devices.

I was attracted to the application because it represents one of those occasions where you see something that is blindingly self evident.

In the above video, Matt and Jeff talk about how the application came into existence. The key to getting it right required Sonoma staff taking time to understand what it means to spend 'a day in the life' of people who do Matt's job. From there, Sonoma worked with Matt to figure out needs, use cases and how to present that on the slate.

The results are outstanding and even though the underlying data and processes are relatively simple the application is made meaningful through a stunning UI that delivers exactly what is needed in the field. It is a great example of design thinking where for example, a cup is used to represent outlets where product is consumed while a bottle represents off premise outlets like liquor stores.

Watch the video and you'll see how excited Matt is at having an application that makes his life easier yet presents the key metrics and information he needs to get his job done efficiently and effectively. How often do you see that? I suspect that his enthusiasm is as much to do with the fact he has a personal stake in the design as it is to do with what it delivers.

The next steps will see New Belgium Beer Co roll out the application and devices to all its 200 Beer Rangers.

Following our conversation, I asked Matt to demonstrate the application. Again, what strikes me is that we are looking at an enthusiastic user not a marketing droid from the software vendor or partner explaining what it does and how it benefits. It doesn't get much better than that.