A leading business services company in the consumer goods industry, Crossmark employs approximately 20,000 retail representatives throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand. To coordinate this geographically dispersed workforce, Crossmark developed a proprietary field [image-nocss] force automation system, known as SalesTrak. For more than a decade, the SalesTrak system drove coordination of resources and communication of work objectives across a diverse workforce for a multitude of clients.
More recently, Crossmark was looking to innovate the field force automation space by leveraging interactive information-sharing tools provided by the new web 2.0 technologies to drive collaboration and a sense of community among retail representatives. The objective was to create an online community that would allow retail reps to learn from each other, improve the speed at which they became productive at executing new retail projects, increase employee retention and create new ways to serve clients by enabling greater levels of collaboration.
"With SalesTrak we wanted to leverage the latest technologies available, such as wikis, blogs and virtual communities, to create a true communitynot just an online forumin which users all over the globe could empower themselves and each other through collaboration," said Christine Mefford, CEO of BEST Crossmark, the business technology division of Crossmark.
Within 30 days of the launch of the new user community, retail represntatives initiated more than 25,000 online discussions to share learnings and best practices. This enthusiasm was documented in a post-launch survey by the Gantry Group, which polled Crossmark reps who also had similar work experience in other organizations.
Survey findings indicated that efforts to improve the SalesTrak user interface (UI) were very successful, Crossmark said; the new UI was faster to learn and easier to use than other competitive tools by a 2 to 1 ratio, and reps would be more likely to spend more time representing the company because of the new UI.
"SalesTrak is a great example of utilizing technology to service our clients and associates alike," said Crossmark CIO Jim Norred. "Our retail reps are the basis of everything we do, and their enthusiasm over the new User Community and SalesTrak interface means we're helping them do their job more effectivelyand by doing that, we're able to provide an unprecedented level of service to our clients."
He added, "In 2001 Crossmark made the decision to invest in the capability to offer business technology consulting and produce commercial-grade software in-house. We recognized our strengths in service, execution and tailoring a solution to the client's specific needs. We also recognized that to effectively customize business solutions, we would need the ability to customize the technology that often is the underpinning of the business process."
The recognition of this supportive relationship between technology and business processes led to the decision to acquire BEST Systems, renamed BEST Crossmark, which allowed Crossmark the ability to customize business technology solutions for internal and external use. This investment continues to pay dividends for the company and has made possible the retail platform innovation for which Crossmark has been recognized by InformationWeek., it said.
"For 22 years, the InformationWeek 500 has honored the most innovative users of business technology," said InformationWeek Editor In Chief Rob Preston. "As we start to emerge from the worst recession in decades, the IT focus is now on driving growthnew sources of revenue, new relationships with customers, even new business models. This year's ranking placed special emphasis on those companies and business technology executives leading that charge."
InformationWeek identifies and honors the nation's most innovative users of information technology with its annual 500 listing and also tracks the technology, strategies, investments and administrative practices of America's best-known companies. Top winners have included Kimberly-Clark, CME Group, Conway, National Semiconductor, Hilton Hotels and Unum. The InformationWeek 500 rankings are unique among corporate rankings, highlighting the power of innovation in information technology rather than simply identifying the biggest IT spenders.
Click here for more details on the InformationWeek 500. Andclick here to view the full list.
Crossmark is a leading business services company in the consumer goods industry that provides growth solutions with exceptional service to manufacturers and retailers. A privately owned corporation founded in 1905, Crossmark is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and employs more than 25,000 associates worldwide in offices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Crossmark's expertise spans the grocery, mass, club, drug, convenience store and home improvement channels among others, and encompasses the areas of headquarter sales, in-store solutions, retailer solutions, event marketing, data collection, business intelligence and business technology solutions.