For every company, it’s important to encourage innovation because it supports the alignment between services and changing industry advancements and standards. This keeps companies competitive. However, barriers exist to prevent businesses, especially SMEs, from growing, such as cost, time and lack of expertise. Larger businesses face a similar challenge, only their barriers function more as missed opportunities.
As a recipient of 15 CVTA vouchers, each worth $10,000, WIMTACH carefully selected companies to partner with that represented high level innovation. Winters, a long-time WIMTACH industry partner, was chosen because of their continued commitment to make a lasting impact on their industry. The project included major enhancements to their mobile application.
The project was focused on expanding the global reach of Winters’ customer base. Before, its services and features were only available in English. As such, Winters and the WIMTACH team worked together to enhance their mobile application by including more languages – Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese – “to reach a significantly larger target audience and give Winters Instruments more credibility”. A second component included a bundling feature, which “shows similar products based on the product added to the cart” and is tied into messaging systems such as WhatsApp. The final component was a news feed to ensure that customers stayed informed about industrial instrumentation. These enhancements proved to be a success.
“We’ve seen an uptick in the usage of our mobile app, but more importantly, we’ve seen absolute results to the sales we’ve generated. We expect that success to be lasting,” said Peter Chronis, Vice President of Winters Instruments, a global industry leader in manufacturing industrial instrumentation.
Partnerships and collaborations are central to the success of WIMTACH because they increase opportunities for innovation in applied research. WIMTACH strengthens these partnerships by offering clients services that meet their needs and contribute to long-term business growth. The initial partnership began almost four years ago, with WIMTACH providing technical support, product development and strategic consulting to Winters for a UPC program.
“We originally came across [WIMTACH] during one of our preliminary searches for developing an app, which is basically external communication between us and our partners and our customers. At that point, we were looking for a software partner to develop the app with functions that we were interested in,” explained Peter Chronis, Vice President of Business Development. “All of our products had a scannable code and we wanted that software tool to scan that UPC code and identify the product that it was, show a photo of that product and a short description.”
Its second project with WIMTACH included developing a configurator that would allow customers to search for and identify tools and components and, by the end, have a product at the very end to purchase or identify. It was a huge success because it demonstrated a new user experience.
“A year and a half later [from the first project], we had a lot of accolades internally and from the market at large….we extended [the app] further and added a competitor component so that customers could identify a Winters equivalent plus other attributes,” explains Peter.
From the very first project with Winters, WIMTACH Student Researchers were integral to the company’s increased knowledge of mobile apps and how they could be used to innovate business. In addition to the hard skills of software development and programming that they brought to the project. It was also the soft skills, such as teamwork and clear communication, which was “perfect”:
“From an app perspective, we were new to apps and apps were new to our industry so we didn’t know what their capabilities were. [The students] explained it to us like we were six years old, which was perfect at that time…the two students’ insight [on the most recent project] was amazing. They were actually quite good…I would extend that to our last project. They were under the guidance of Majura. Majura himself is an excellent communicator and someone you can reach out to and did a terrific job with project management with regard to meetings and updates”
The company’s partnership with WIMTACH has served as a catalyst for innovation. Winters has maintained a maintenance contract with WIMTACH since the very beginning of the partnership because of it. The plan is to partner with WIMTACH in the near future to add more functionality to the app.
“Our experience with the app development has been terrific and has really validated our place in the industry as a digital leader.”
For more information about Winters Instruments., please click here.
For more information about WIMTACH’s funding services, please click here.
WIMTACH proudly recognizes funding to support this work from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).