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100-year-old Eaton adopts and builds its power management product catalogue around iPads

by Michael Singer

June 3 2013

Eaton's PowerSource app consolidates its catalogue of more than 200,000 products
Eaton's PowerSource app consolidates its catalogue of more than 200,000 products

While many companies either adopt tablets in the workplace or build apps for their employee’s tablets, electrical power management component manufacturer Eaton decided to do both with award-winning results.

Recently celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Beachwood, Ohio-based Eaton has a catalogue of more than 200,000 products for commercial and industrial use including electrical, hydraulics, and pneumatic systems for several markets including automotive, military, and energy.

Historically, Eaton’s salespeople would lug around massive 3-ring binders with pages and pages of product specifications. Data entry was and endless cycle and sales teams endlessly replaced product sheets manually to keep the information fresh. The practice was inefficient and did not allow potential customers to get detailed information without having to make physical copies of the catalogue pages.

After initial investigation into the appropriate tools, Eaton made a strategic decision to shift to iPad tablets with Wi-Fi and 3G for its sales teams. In addition to a lighter weight to carry and the ability to have up-to-date information on Eaton products, salespeople could also manipulate product images (pinch, pull, rotate, etc.) so customers could easily see the products up close.

After an internal rollout of 280, the company currently has about 500 devices deployed with a long-standing goal of 1,700 devices.

The birth of Eaton’s own app, PowerSource

While just adopting off-the-shelf software to host its catalogue would have been fine, Eaton decided to work with Antenna Software and AT&T to create an iPhone and iPad app that shows off the extensive Eaton catalogue.

The app, called Eaton PowerSource, allows customers to customize the content by region or language as well as locate the nearest channel partner to make a purchase. The app also includes videos, business overviews, product training and expert interviews.

“One executive showed off how he replaced his binder with his iPad using PowerSource during a distributor meeting and the demand for the tablet was overwhelming,” Jim Somers, chief marketing & strategy officer of Antenna Software, told TabTimes.

The app also allows Eaton salespeople to receive product updates over the air and use the catalogue even if the device is not connected.

Since its inception, the app reduced the sales cycle from weeks to days, and in some cases, hours. Sales people report increasing deals closed on the first day of engagement and driving sales growth.

The PowerSource app even ended up winning Eaton the 2012 Manufacturing Leadership Award.

Michael Singer is the Business Editor for TabTimes

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