iPhone in Business

Exel Computer Systems

“We’re always looking for ways of innovating, of giving ourselves and our customers a competitive edge. Having our people carry iPhones is a powerful way of expressing that philosophy.”

Rue Dilhe, Managing Director, Exel

Enterprise Resource Planning with iPhone 3G

As creators of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software — which helps businesses manage interdependent functions such as planning, purchasing, production and sales — Nottingham, England-based Exel Computer Systems needs to respond instantly to its customers’ technical needs. And with half its staff working remotely, mobile communications are crucial.

So when iPhone 3G was launched, “we knew it was the right device for our company”, says Managing Director Rue Dilhe. “iPhone allows us to be vastly more responsive. We can browse the web, navigate our business systems via VPN, open email attachments — Word, Excel, PDF files — and zoom into the relevant parts of those documents. We don’t have to wait, go back to the office or fire up a laptop to bring the information down. We’ve actually got it in hand”.

Whether it’s an Exel software engineer heeding a client’s urgent request or a salesperson providing a swift and accurate quote, iPhone gives Exel employees the resources they need to do the job. “A lot of our core staff are in the office just one or two days a month”, says Adam Shepherd, Systems Integration Manager. “So unless they’ve got easy access to internal networks, voicemail and email they can’t do their work. With iPhone, it’s simple. It just makes their lives easier, which in turn makes the company more productive”.

Info on the Fly

Before turning to iPhone, Exel staff pieced together their mobile communications using multiple devices. An engineer might have a phone for voice contact and another device for mobile email, with a dedicated server at the office to manage the mobile data. “There’s additional cost and licensing associated with that, and ongoing maintenance as well”, notes Dilhe. “Bringing iPhone onboard probably reduced those expenses by 60 per cent”.

iPhone also appealed to Exel for its easy integration into the firm’s existing systems. “We examined numerous devices and iPhone came out on top in a number of areas”, Dilhe says. “We use Outlook and a Microsoft Exchange Server, and on iPhone, the calendar and email integration with Outlook was fantastic — totally, automatically synchronised. With other devices, we found it was difficult to connect with our internal systems. But with iPhone, all our back-end software was readily accessible to our team”. Exel have developed internal applications, Eagle Field Service a mobile management solution providing real time information and resources to field based engineers and EFACS E/8 a browser based platform and database independent, fully integrated ERP solution in multiple language capabilities. Its unique Variable Component Architecture, broad functionality and rich Development Environment enables a precision fit to the requirements of discrete manufacturers.

Security, Simplicity, Savings

Exel’s intranet acts as a repository for internal resources such as development, marketing and sales information. Shepherd found it easy to set up an iPhone-ready version of Exel’s in-house information portal. “With our iPhones, everything goes through SSL”, he explains. “It’s the same as any secure VPN connection through a laptop, except easier”.

“We’re all about safely passing business-sensitive information around the enterprise”, adds Jonathan Orme, Sales Operations Manager. “So security is critical to what we’re doing. And straight out of the box, iPhone met all of our internal security standards. We’ve not had an issue”.

Training and support for iPhone have been equally uncomplicated. “From day one”, says Dilhe, “all of our employees found iPhone very easy to use. We’ve undertaken no training whatsoever on the device. We just configured it and let them loose. So there’s been zero investment in terms of educating our staff”.

The Future in Hand

In the field, Exel’s staff discovered yet more iPhone benefits. “Our customers represent diverse industries”, says Dilhe, “yet across all those industries, from aerospace to basic manufacturing, everyone wants information at their fingertips. People don’t want to rely on laptops or desktops to download brochures, procedures, price lists. They want to access real-time systems on mobile devices wherever they might be”.

iPhone delivers on this growing demand for instant access. “With iPhone, we can run genuine business applications on this elegant handheld device”, Dilhe says. “We can demonstrate things to the managing directors and financial directors of prospective clients, which can be much more impressive than running a standard presentation off a projector in a conference room”.

For Exel, iPhone is emblematic of the company’s goal to provide seamless service and one-step-beyond software. “We class ourselves as being at the cutting edge of technology”, says Dilhe. “We’re always looking for ways of innovating, of giving ourselves and our customers a competitive edge. Having our people carry iPhones is a powerful way of expressing that philosophy”.

Company Snapshot

  • Founded 1985; 70 employees
  • Provides integrated ERP solutions for manufacturing, accounting and commercial control
  • Products have evolved from UNIX to Windows to Web to mobile platforms
  • Thousands of users throughout the world, including China
  • www.exel.co.uk

“We examined numerous devices and iPhone came out on top in a number of areas. On iPhone, the calendar and email integration with Outlook was fantastic — totally, automatically synchronised.”

Rue Dilhe, Managing Director, Exel


“Security is critical to what we’re doing. And straight out of the box, iPhone met all of our internal security standards. We’ve not had an issue.”

Jonathan Orme, Sales Operations Manager, Exel

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