Synchronize Now

By Matthew Kelly  |  Posted 2005-08-15 Print this article Print

In Cole Systems OrderPad application, sales agents see a button on their tablet that says "Synchronize now." When pressed, it launches the PeerDirect engine, which provides feedback so users can see which data updates must occur. Users can even view graphical representations of new sales data streaming in from a retailer, alerting the sales representative that the customer with high volumes of new data might be worth extra attention.

At lottery headquarters, Hendricks faced a fairly easy implementation, ironically because the lottery had been so woefully behind the times technologically. Cole Systems runs OrderPad strictly on a Microsoft platform, so the lotterys biggest IT expenses were the purchase of a Microsoft SQL server and upgrading its telecommunications network both to handle larger numbers of sales agents dialing in to the system and to distribute upgrade patches as necessary.

How does the system work? At lottery headquarters, the AS/400 manages complete profiles on the agencys retail outlets, including contact information on store managers.

That information, along with "pure raw sales data," Hendricks said, is pumped to the OrderPad server each time a sales agent taps into the system from a tablet PC. OrderPad then sends along fresh, updated data to the agent. Downloads usually take no more than 3 minutes.

"Were supplying all the data; theyre just turning it around and putting it into a format thats useful at the sales reps scene," Hendricks said.

At that location, the agent can show the retailer which games are currently hot sellers in the vicinity. The agent can also determine which games sell well at a particular retail outlet and order more in a timely fashion so the store will not run out of them. At lottery headquarters, meanwhile, Hendricks can study aggregate data about orders to develop more accurate advertising and marketing campaigns.

OrderPad cost the lottery $1,900 per user license, a fee that includes various professional services from Cole Systems. The states return on that investment is somewhat difficult to measure, Hendricks said, because the new system is only one of several coordinated efforts to raise the lotterys profile with Indiana citizens. Still, sales of scratch tickets in the second quarter were 15 percent above year-ago levels.

"How much of that revenue can be attributed to this project? Thats hard to tell, but it has been going well," Hendricks said.

Matt Kelly is a freelance writer in Somerville, Mass. He can be reached at

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