Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
The rapid adoption of mobile devices has led many organisations to accelerate plans for content delivery via apps and optimised Web pages. For marketers, however, even the limited fragmentation of mobile operating platforms has created a headache around developing multiple variations for different operating systems and form-factors.
US-based software company, OutSystems, is one of the companies hoping to ease this problem through a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) approach. This lets organisations develop applications which immediately adapt to the form-factor of the user’s device for any mobile platform.
PaaS is different from other software development solutions in that it provides both the computing platform as well as the entire software stack required for developing and integrating solutions. Google’s App Engine, Microsoft Windows Azure and Salesforce.com’s Force.com are other examples of PaaS.
For Volkswagen Australia, OutSystems provided the platform that enabled the rapid deployment and release of a new application to distribute leads to the company’s dealer network.
According to Volkswagen’s customer engagement manager, Craig O’Donnell, the OutSystems solution integrates directly with his company’s existing Onyx-based CRM systems and provides dealers with an easy-to-use means to work with those leads.
“It’s a platform that a dealer logs in to and will receive a lead from our website,” he says. “What it enables us to do is see and track how the dealer interacts with those leads. So in a really simple way we can see the metrics around what is going on and access more in-depth reporting about what is happening with those leads.
“It definitely helped us solve an issue. It’s a very easy-to-use platform, very straightforward, very self-managing.”
The deployment and integration work for Volkswagen was handled by its technology partner, extend.IT Australia.
Extend.IT’s managing director, Peter Drum, says his firm has been working with Volkswagen since late 2009, and has been involved in the broader dealer CRM project since 2011. Hence it was natural for them to play a role in extending that platform out more easily to the carmaker’s dealers.
“We were looking at possible platforms we could use to meet our criteria for the application,” Drum says. “We were particularly interested in being able to support different devices. The agile concept was also key to what we wanted to do as well - to be able to deploy and then rapidly innovate as time went on.”
Drum evaluated a number of platforms before settling on OutSystems.
“It’s very good, and very flexible,” he says. “It didn’t have a very big learning curve and was able to satisfy some of those core criteria.”
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