Real-time iPad enablement of IBM i applications for mobile access for BakerCorp

BakerCorp

BakerCorp specialize in tank, pump, filtration and trench shoring rental. Founded in 1942, they provide application expertise and equipment rental to a growing number of industries. Their core systems are IBM i based. They run Rentalman from Wynne Systems, which has been heavily modified and customized for their specific business needs.

Challenge

BakerCorp management realized that the field staff were struggling to get easy access to equipment, customer and inventory information, which is a vital part of their job. Not only was it inefficient, it was also negatively affecting customer service.

 

They either had to dial in by cell phone to speak to someone at the head office (during California business hours), or boot up a laptop, get internet access to the back-end system, and then run a 5250 emulator to directly access the data.

 

Since all the data and business logic that needed to be accessed resided on the IBM i, they set about looking for a solution that would leverage the existing RPG application, and allow secure and real-time access from a tablet device.

Solution

BakerCorp selected newlook and lookserver from looksoftware to reface the existing Rentalman application and provide a modern graphical interface for the tablet. At first, they selected an Android based device, but after some initial comparison tests with an iPad, they found that the iPad provided a more reliable and secure connection, and a better overall experience.

 

Working with a looksoftware consultant, they designed the new interface to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible. Unnecessary screens were removed, and they made extensive use of icons to take advantage of the touch-based interface. “We needed something up and running quickly. It only took 10 days of effort to get our initial version ready for delivery,” explained Denise Brunner, Director of Telecom and Wireless Solutions.

 

To ensure the connection is secure, they utilize a VPN between the iPads and the internal network. “We ‘Bakerized’ the application so it has a consistent appearance with our website and corporate color scheme” explains Denise.

Results

They initially deployed the application to 60 users, and Brunner said that training the users took very little time. “It’s amazing how quickly the users learned to navigate the iPad application,” she said.

 

Initial feedback was extremely positive. Users can access the system at any time and from almost anywhere using their iPad’s 4G cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity options.

 

BakerCorp has since expanded the number of users to 175. It has been reported that each user is saving around an hour a day by using the iPad. “The users are not only saving significant time, they love using the new application,” explained Brunner.

 

BakerCorp are continuing to gather feedback from the users and to enhance the application with additional functionality. “This has not only been a win for the IT department and end users,” said Brunner. “The whole company is benefitting from this new technology.”

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SummaryChallenge: BakerCorp wanted to provide field staff with better access to equipment, and to customer and inventory information stored on IBM i.

 

Solution: BakerCorp refaced their existing application and provided a modern graphical interface for tablets. They also ensured a secure connection through VPN between tablets and the corporate network.

Testimonial“We needed something up and running quickly. It only took 10 days of effort to get our initial version ready for delivery.”

 

-Denise Brunner, Director of Telecom and Wireless Solutions.