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Lincoln Financial Distributors

"The bottom line is that having the ability to access and update important information from their BlackBerrys in real time makes our wholesalers more efficient and effective."

Senior Vice President and Head of Sales

Lincoln Financial Distributors (LFD) is the wholesaling arm for Lincoln Financial Group. Lincoln Financial Group sells a variety of financial products and solutions including mutual funds, managed accounts, retirement solutions, life insurance, 401(k) and 403(b) plans and college savings plans. Lincoln Financial Distributors markets and sells these products to financial services firms, wire houses, independent financial planners and life insurance producers.  LFD needed to encourage greater use of the company's customer relationship management (CRM) application by LFD's sales representatives to help improve productivity and enable management to access real-time information.  It turned to Sybase iAnywhere for a mobilized version of the CRM application designed for BlackBerry devices, developed by iAnywhere's Professional Services Group using OneBridge Mobile Data Suite.

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To help its wholesale representatives be more productive and successful, LFD invested in a CRM system. This system was designed to help the reps keep track of customer information, their daily activities and product sales. The idea was to give them a tool that they could consult for historical information about their producers prior to meeting with them. 

This CRM system was originally designed for deployment on laptops. LFD soon discovered, however, that wholesalers frequently were not entering information into the application on a timely basis; to do so required that they carry their laptops with them, boot up to review information before those meetings, and boot up again after those meetings to enter activity-related data. 

Company Turns to OneBridge to Meet Mobile Users' Needs
The company decided to mobilize their CRM application and created a proprietary version that would provide access to data and email from handheld devices to improve application usage. LFD researched and evaluated several solutions that would enable a mobile application.

Lincoln worked with iAnywhere's Professional Services Team to port the application to Pocket PC devices relying on OneBridge. The sales representatives found the solution more to their liking, but still not quite what they wanted. While many of them were happy to carry these mobile devices with them, they were frustrated by connection difficulties in many parts of the country and by battery life issues that often required the devices to be rebuilt.

"Obtaining optimal battery life on the earlier generation of Pocket PC devices was a priority. An increase in call volume was reported by our support center due to the fact that these devices did not store applications and data in non-volatile RAM," recalls Joe Mancuso, AVP, Information and Data Architect at LFD. "To address these issues, we decided to migrate the application from the Pocket PC platform to a BlackBerry platform. We knew we'd get optimal battery life and connectivity with BlackBerry devices. Our initial decision to use OneBridge afforded us the flexibility to change the device hardware without making major changes to the middleware. The fact that OneBridge could support multiple device types was appealing."

Sybase iAnywhere technology seemed like it could be implemented relatively quickly and would be very easy to extend into custom applications. And, of course, we knew it would enable us to automate our synchronization process."

Once LFD decided to deploy a BlackBerry CRM application with OneBridge, it created a proof of concept, which proved very successful. It took six months from the proof of concept to roll out to the company's external wholesalers.

User Feedback Strong Thanks to OneBridge
In the relatively short time the new solution has been in production, the feedback from end-users has been positive. The wholesalers are pleased to have real time access to email and our CRM on the BlackBerry," says Elaine Widmer, 2nd VP at LFD. "The CRM application synchronizes itself four times a day, making it easy for the wholesaler to use. The process has been simplified for our users so that all they have to do is enter the data they gather. Everything else happens behind the scenes."

"That's what you want if you're a user - you want to be able to turn your device on, to have the data you need always be there, and to be able to connect whenever you want," adds Mancuso. "That's what we're able to do today, thanks to OneBridge."

Even more than the technology, LFD credits the iAnywhere Professional Services team, as they were primarily responsible for the development of the current mobile application. "We gave them the business requirements and worked with them to define the technical specs," says Mancuso. "Based on that, they developed the application, keeping in mind that we wanted it to be as simple as possible for our users. OneBridge Mobile Data Suite offered us the functionality and reliability we needed, but it was really the Professional Services team that delivered on the company's promises and provided a value add."

OneBridge Enables More Face Time with Customers, Less Administrative Time
"The bottom line," adds Terry Mullen, President and CEO, Lincoln Financial Distributors, "is that having the ability to access and update important information from their BlackBerry devices in real time makes our wholesalers more efficient and effective. It means more face time with customers, enhanced customer satisfaction, and less office and administrative time."

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