Wholesaler Mobilizes IBM i App with Help from Profound Logic
September 18, 2012 Alex Woodie
WinWholesale, a Dayton, Ohio-based conglomerate of more than 520 wholesale companies, has mobile-enabled its homegrown IBM i-based ERP system with Profound Logic Genie. With the capability to access the ERP system through an iPad, the company now has an interface that is suitable for the 21st century.
WinWholesale is a collection of wholesale distributors of plumbing and heating supplies, including pipes, valves, fittings, pumps, refrigeration, and air conditioning equipment. The company has equity stakes in 470 companies displaying the “Win” prefix and another 70 under Noland Company.
The privately held company develops and runs its own IBM i-based ERP system that’s specifically tailored to its needs. The system, called the Wholesalers Information Services Executive (or WISE), lets employees enter and manage customer data, sales quotes, order history and more.
WISE has served the company well, but its 5250 interface was starting to look a little stale. “Our employees would ask us why we were still using old green-screen applications in the year 2012,” states Rick Welage, director of IT applications for WinWholesale, in a case study posted to Profound’s website. “It made us look out of touch with new technologies, which is not the impression we wanted to give our customers.”
WinWholesale wasn’t about to dump its investment in WISE, but it realized it needed to find a way to update the look and feel of its interface. “We looked at a few solutions that claimed to do what we were looking for, but they didn’t offer the right combination of tools, services and support we knew we needed with this project,” Welage says.
Then WinWholesale took a look at the Genie Web-enablement software from Profound Logic. Genie is an on-the-fly converter that generates HTML interfaces from the 5250 data, and it can also be used to “mobile-enable” 5250 screens so they can be displayed on iPads and other devices.
Genie fit WinWholesale’s requirements, and soon the companies were working together to develop custom iPad screens for WISE users. The custom development was necessary to make WISE fully functional on the iPad, including support for the iPad’s touch screen, and support for WISE’s special function keys and searchable fields.
By this summer, the new iPad WISE interface was being used by more than 200 WinWhole employees. Being able to access the familiar looking WISE screens from an iPad has enabled employees to answer questions and fulfill quotes while in the field and at customers’ sites.
The combination of the Genie technology, the low price point, and the willingness by Profound to help made the project a success for WinWholesale, Welage says.