Marks & Spencer Trial New Smartphone Solution

Marks & Spencer Trial New Smartphone Solution

Microsoft and Conchango Provide Selection of Mobile Workers with Remote Access to Store Performance, Outlook Email and Calendar on Windows Mobile-based Smartphones


LONDON — UK – 26 July 2005 — Microsoft Ltd. and Conchango (UK) plc, today announced that Marks & Spencer, one of the UK’s leading retail companies, will trial Windows Mobile™-based Smartphones to deliver mobile Microsoft® Outlook® e-mail, calendar and contacts to a  number of executives. The Smartphone will incorporate a prototype of the Conchango Retail KPI (Key Performance Indicator) Dashboard application to deliver store performance information and provide an insight into the potential of Conchango’s KPI application to deliver up to date information, enabling its users to make informed, accurate decisions whilst on the move.

Through the full version of Conchango’s software, which is built on Microsoft’s .NET Compact Framework and runs on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, the users will have the potential to access relevant information, receive and review data from across the company, geographical regions or stores.  This will provide the first opportunity for a business in the retail sector to have access to this level of interactive detail from a mobile device.

The full version of the innovative KPI application has the ability to deliver up to the minute data on demand. It feeds information to the Smartphone screen, including sales data, stock levels and supplier orders for individual stores so that decision-makers can keep up-to-date on business activity. The trial of this new technology offers an insight into the innovative methods that retail organisations are reviewing to streamline business processes and increase productivity for both static and mobile workers.

“Retail is a very competitive market, so it’s important that we have fast, reliable access to information to help us make important decisions for the business in order for us to provide the best service possible to our customers” said Steven Sharp, Director, Marketing & e-Commerce, Marks & Spencer. “We are pleased to be investigating this innovative new mobile technology and look forward to the flexibility and accuracy it will provide.”

The solution employs both innovative hardware and software. A Windows Mobile-based Smartphone connects over GPRS to a corporate server and retrieves information to the user’s device. Microsoft’s .NET Compact Framework uses XML web services to deliver the relevant content to the individual user.  The Conchango Retail KPI Dashboard is specifically designed to run on the .NET Compact Framework, the platform which enables Microsoft developers for Windows to build and deploy applications for mobile and small footprint devices.
Other features the platform and device enables include:

• The ability for users to access corporate information whilst their device is both online and offline. Even on the Tube, workers can get the information they need

• As Marks & Spencer was one of the first customers on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, users can access their Microsoft Outlook inboxes to send and receive email, manage appointments on the move and check contact details remotely so that they can work more effectively, further increasing their productivity

 “Businesses need to be able to make intelligent decisions to ensure they stay one step ahead of the competition,” said Chris Saul, Director at Conchango. “The fact that a company such as Marks & Spencer is trialing the Conchango Retail KPI Dashboard reinforces the importance of being able to access up-to-the-minute retail data on-demand for achieving success. By connecting the Microsoft Smartphone over GPRS to a corporate server, the solution uses the latest developments in technology to retrieve the relevant information and use XML Web services to deliver the relevant content to the individual user.”

 “The combination of Conchango’s innovative application running on the .NET Compact Framework and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform presents Marks & Spencer with a real opportunity to sample the value of using mobility solutions in this sector,” offered Jason Langridge, Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, Microsoft Ltd. “Together we are removing the barriers to making business decisions on the move by driving detailed corporate information to executives wherever they might be.”

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