How a 1,700-tablet rollout helped transform this health care company

When you’re in the back of an ambulance, you want your EMTs to have the newest, most reliable, most easy-to-use technology. You don’t want clunky computers and tablets from 10 years ago, and you don’t want a slow, messy deployment process of new technology to cause hiccups in your ongoing care. If your life is on the line, you want to know everything related to saving it is as efficient and up-to-date as possible.

Health care is in a more precarious place than most industries, as failures can have life or death consequences. That’s why, when one ambulance dispatch company wanted to replace 5,500 of the computers and tablets in its ambulances, it needed the process to be efficient, move quickly, and—most importantly—improve the lives of both doctors and patients.

Here’s how it did exactly that.

Emergency vehicles with problems of their own

The company dispatched ambulances all over the country, meaning that it had a huge supply of mobile devices. The tablets and laptops the company deployed ran the company’s enterprise app, which EMTs used to check patients and catalog their vital statistics, but device management issues regularly popped up across the board.

There was no unified management system that could easily image all of those devices. The ruggedized laptops and tablets were old, heavy, bulky, expensive, and on strange lifecycles. The company struggled to tell when old devices should be retired and disposed of, or how data was transferred or deleted, or if training was needed for a new device.

With all of these troubles, the company was looking for an enterprise-wide upgrade: an army of the same devices that could be managed by one system for seamless device and information integration. A big draw for the company was Windows 10, which it was hoping to implement in all areas of business in order to streamline imaging and management. It turned to Microsoft, which offered a good deal on Surface 3 tablets, InTune, and Azure to complete the deployment.

Tight turnaround, high demand

Despite this generous offer from Microsoft, challenges remained. The first came in the form of inventory. As the company’s longtime partner, SHI was responsible for sourcing the 1,700 Surface tablets and accompanying accessories, such as Urban Armor Gear cases and Compulocks DoubelGlass Screen Shield screen protectors, that would be used in the ambulances—no easy feat, considering the Surface tablets best suited for the company were not new models. However, by working with multiple distributors and leveraging its strong relationship with Microsoft’s Surface team, SHI was able to get access to Surfaces as they became available.

The second challenge came in the form of prioritizing the rollout. With so many locations and only a four-month rollout period, it was important that the schedule ran tightly to the expected timeline and properly prioritized each site in terms of need. By engaging with suppliers and the health care company’s key stakeholders, SHI was able to figure out which locations would implement the rollout first, manage the supply chain to accommodate that, and simplify the timeline. SHI also encrypted, imaged, and asset tagged each device, so that they could be sent to the proper location and work right out of the box—a process partly made possible by SHI’s new Integration Center.

Making it all come together

Upgrading its hardware allowed the company’s enterprise app to run much more smoothly, meaning doctors and EMTs can share patient information more easily than before. The Surface 3 is lighter and more user-friendly than the old machines the company was using, and adding the functionality of the included Surface pen and other accessories means that hospitals can check in and process patients faster.

The Surface 3, of course, also runs Windows 10, which can up productivity for doctors, nurses, and EMTs. By adding mobility and Windows 10 to its environment, the company improves flow of information between health care practitioners and patients—a valuable addition in a field where every second can count.

But it doesn’t end there. Although the rollout went smoothly and quickly for this health care company, there’s still a long way to go. By switching all of its devices to Windows 10 and compatible services, this company hopes to improve its communication and device management even further, creating a more connected environment that could help save even more lives.

Tags: , , ,

How one retailer rolled out thousands of tablets to 600 stores across the nation

tablets-in-retailA small project for a large organization is often nothing of the sort. One recent example is a large national retailer’s plan to deploy 8,500 tablets to 600 stores.

As part of a mobility push, the retailer sought to equip thousands of store managers and other personnel with tablets. After working through a proof of concept with a number of options, the retailer chose a family of Microsoft Surface tablets (primarily Surface 3 devices) for their size, light weight, touch-screen capabilities, and ease of use in the store environment. The tablets allow managers to track inventory and monitor sales from anywhere – in the office, on the floor, or behind the register. Continue Reading…

Tags: , , ,

Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface RT now available through SHI

microsoft surface proEarlier today Microsoft revealed that it is expanding Surface’s sales channels and empowering partners to sell both the Surface Pro and Surface RT. Proudly, SHI is one of the first partners to participate in the program, and we already have begun offering Surface Pro 64 GB, Surface Pro 128GB, Surface RT 32GB, and Surface RT 64GB to our customers.

This announcement is big news for our customers, who previously could obtain all of their Microsoft software and other hardware from SHI but had to go direct to Microsoft if they were looking to equip their employees with the Surface Pro or Surface RT. And we know customers were since “Microsoft Surface” topped the list of failed searches (that is, those that didn’t return any results) on SHI.com last quarter. Now we can help customers procure both of these devices and, as a result, provide a truly integrated Microsoft hardware and software solution for better IT asset management, spend visibility, and volume licensing compliance.

We’re really excited to expand our mobility portfolio. For the first half of 2013, SHI shipped an average of 10,000 tablets per month. With the availability of the Surface, which in May broke into the top five tablets shipped, and the official addition of another top-selling device to our catalog later this month, we’re bound to see those numbers increase.

For questions about pricing and availability of Surface Pro or Surface RT, check your custom catalog on SHI.com or contact your dedicated account team. And keep an eye on the blog for more news about our ever-expanding portfolio of tablets and mobile devices.

Tags: , , , , ,

A Microsoft Surface user review

I’ve never owned a tablet device. No, really. I’m serious. Twenty-two percent of adults across the U.S. (and counting) own tablets, but I was not one of them.

Until recently, that is. Two weeks ago Pat Hart, SHI’s Director of Software Licensing, determined to bring me out of the dark ages, handed me a newly released Microsoft Surface. His instructions to me: “Try not to break this thing on the first day.”

It was good advice and, for a moment, seemed likely that I would fail this task. Getting the device out of the box was a challenge. It was like the Surface was packed inside a giant Chinese finger trap: The harder I pulled on the black and white interlocked cardboard box, the more the device refused to budge. I dropped the package on my kitchen counter five to six times before my wife finally came to see what was making all that noise. She took the box, flipped it over, and the Surface slid gently out onto the counter.

Surface (and spouse): 1. Ed: 0. Continue Reading…

Tags: ,

Is your Microsoft licensing in compliance? A quick reference guide

This is a big week for Microsoft — the Windows 8 launch today, the release of Microsoft Surface tomorrow. Media and techies have been hyping these new products for months, both for their innovation — some are calling Surface the “PC of the future” — and also for the licensing re-haul associated with them.

Caitlin already touched on the licensing changes inherent with Windows 8, so we won’t be going there today. Instead of looking forward, we thought we’d take a quick look back at how Microsoft got here. Below we’ve compiled a handy table recapping the new Microsoft products launched in 2012 and the licensing models associated with each. Let this serve as a quick reference to make sure your software licensing is in compliance. Continue Reading…

Tags: , , , , , , ,