This global health care products company modernized their key sales application while laying the groundwork for a consolidated, simplified mobility strategy. Windows 8 and Xamarin provided improved functionality and broader platform
A global healthcare products leader and medical devices manufacturer, dedicated to creating innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes, embarked on a new enterprise mobility strategy intended to better leverage core infrastructures and streamline the number of "organically grown" applications.
The company identified more than five hundred users in the Medical Supply sales group to receive Lenovo Windows 8 tablets, moving from a dual dependency on PCs and iPads to a single IT-supported hardware device.
As a starting point, they targeted their Sales Application, one of three core productivity applications for their sales groups. The application provides a library of product specifications, videos, pricing and more across tens of thousands of items in the company's product catalog. The Sales Application features, initially developed for iOS, would be made available for the Windows 8 tablet users.
On sales visits, the company's sales agents choose content that might be most applicable to a particular customer, and assemble it into a presentation to show that customer. The sales reps need to interact with the content, create and edit presentations, and sync those presentations back to the content host.
The existing Sales Application runs on the iPad tablet only. The iPad does not allow asynchronous content sync – therefore the sales force could not use their device while synchronizing content. A typical sync could take 30+ minutes to complete, preventing the sales reps from doing other activities during that time.
In addition, the iPad platform was difficult and costly to support from an enterprise perspective in terms of purchasing, deployment, security, compatibility, and application development and maintenance.
BlueMetal built the Sales Application on the following pillars:
Compatibility – BlueMetal architected the new version so that it does not require changes to the service API or content organization on the server. The Sales Application prototype uses exactly the same REST-ful service APIs as the current release of the iOS version. The same http request headers, URI parameters, content tokens, and encryption algorithms are used by both. In addition, no changes were made to the organization of content online. The new version is 100% compatible with the iOS version of the Sales Application with regard to both services and content.
Modern Design – BlueMetal designed the prototype to exploit the Modern UI Guidelines to help ensure the best native user experience for a Windows 8.1 tablet application by emphasizing a tile-based design for "touch-first" interactivity. Content is displayed to the user according to tile-based design principles, grouping different content types in an intuitive way. The application is designed and built as a Windows Store App solution, preserving the option for the organization to deploy it either from the Windows Store or as a side-loaded application with a scripted install directly from corporate infrastructure.
Portability – BlueMetal ensured that as much code as possible was portable to both Windows and iOS tablets, to minimize code maintenance and development. The prototype is a XAML and C# application using the .NET framework and based on a number of portable frameworks and libraries. A key component is Xamarin's platform, providing an app dev model that gives this organization the ability to run a single code base on both platforms. They now have a transition pathway for operating in mixed platforms without having to maintain completely separate codebases for all their applications.
Asynchronous service – BlueMetal leveraged portable, asynchronous libraries to ensure that all file IO and REST service calls occur asynchronously. This means that the new Sales Application remains usable and responsive during long-running synchronization processes.
The Sales Application prototype demonstrates that a Windows 8.1 version of the Sales Application is highly feasible and that a production-quality release on Windows Surface devices will significantly enhance the overall user experience on mobile devices, reduce the total cost of ownership for the app, and strengthen security.