Bridgestone APAC powers up field teams with Microsoft mobility solution
By Digital News Asia April 8, 2014
- Pilot deployment of solution taking place in Singapore before going international
- Cuts down customer report times, facilitates on-demand resources for better customer service
MICROSOFT Singapore has announced that Bridgestone Asia Pacific will be equipping its sales and technical engineers in the field with an agile, secure and intuitive Windows 8-based mobile cloud solution supported by Windows Azure.
This deployment is intended to enable Bridgestone to deliver better value to Singapore commercial fleet operators while creating greater efficiency with its mobile workforce.
Developed by Microsoft’s IT partner NCS, the mobility solution consists of a customized Windows 8 app called Bridgestone Toolbox Touch running on a ruggedized Windows 8 tablet and supported by Microsoft’s cloud platform Windows Azure which will be used by the company’s sales and technical engineers.
Benjamin Chang, assistant manager of Sales and Marketing, Commercial Products, Bridgestone Asia Pacific said: “With the Bridgestone Toolbox Touch app, we expect to increase productivity across the board with the ability to inspect more vehicles with the same amount of time used before.”
This deployment will be kick-started with a pilot in Singapore, where the mobility solution will be rolled out to Bridgestone Singapore sales and technical engineers. Bridgestone will subsequently be bringing its new Microsoft-powered mobility solution across its international operations.
Going paperless and into the cloud
Bridgestone is one of the leading tire manufacturers globally, producing tires for cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses and other vehicles and machineries. Typically, tire costs is one of the top three highest operational expenses for commercial fleet businesses such as bus operators. Optimal maintenance and usage of tires can produce significant cost-savings for commercial fleet businesses.
As such, Bridgestone also offers a wide range of value-added services to commercial fleet businesses, where sales and technical engineers inspect tire usage on site and provide insights to optimize tire investment.
Tire inspection is typically a manual-based tedious task for the company’s sales and technical engineers and commercial fleet customers alike. Conducted onsite, engineers would record inspection data on paper forms when they visited the fleet operators, then return to the office to enter the data before creating and printing out customer reports – a time consuming process which hindered not just the company’s own productivity but also wasted their customers’ time.
In addition, each consultant maintained customer data separately, generating silos of information that made it challenging to share information internally within the company and to obtain a comprehensive overview of the customer.
The Bridgestone Toolbox Touch app developed by NCS fully replaces the paper-based processes the company’s sales and technical engineers had previously relied on to record inspection data.
The use of Windows 8 enables Bridgestone engineers to choose from a wide variety of tablets, an especially important consideration for their line of work as a ruggedized tablet is sometimes necessary to handle dust, humidity, and shock.
As a full-fledged operating system, Windows 8 runs most familiar productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, eliminating the need for employees to carry around more than one device.
Powered in the back-end by Windows Azure, Bridgestone Toolbox Touch leverages many features offered by the Windows Azure cloud, including SQL Azure database, reporting services, virtual machine, storage and auto-backup, which provides the company the advantages of application extensibility, scalability, and most importantly, reliability, all within a familiar environment.
A key consideration for the rollout of a cloud-based mobile solution was security as Bridgestone dealt with private customer information. With Windows Azure, the company was assured that the solution complied with key industry standards, such as ISO/IEC 27001:2005, and that the solution incorporates security practices at the application and platform layers.
As part of the pilot, Bridgestone consultants in Singapore can today intuitively record inspection data, and when connected to the Internet, can access previous customer reports for follow-up. Additional customer reports are now generated in matters of minutes rather than days by the Windows Azure SQL Reporting Services, and can be simply emailed to the customer.
“As an enterprise-grade system, Windows 8 offers a fast and fluid user experience with no compromise on security and manageability. As a pay-as-you-use platform, Windows Azure provides us scalability, robustness, and peace of mind. By combining these robust platforms into an effective, all-rounded solution, we are confident that we have a system that can quickly adapt to our changing needs in a cost- effective manner, and at a global scale,” said Thierry Jakircevic, global solution service manager, Bridgestone Corporation.