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Will the Microsoft Surface tablet displace Apple's iPad popularity among pharma sales forces?
As promised earlier this year, Veeva Systems (Pleasanton, CA) is introducing a Windows 8 version of its popular iRep software for pharma sales forces using iPads or other iOS equipment. The Windows version is formally called Veeva CRM and CLM for Windows 8. Veeva is certifying the software for compatiblity specifically with the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, and also the ThinkPad Helix ultrabook (a small form-factor laptop) from Lenovo. And while the Windows product has the same "core functionality" as iRep, according ot Ramon Chen, a Veeva marketing VP, it will take some time to build in all the enhancements that iRep has had since its introduction about three years ago.
Veeva says that the new product combines the tailored interfaces for Windows 8 with its cloud-based service offering, along with ancillary Veeva products like PromoMats, a cloud-based repository of promotional materials, and the coming master-data-management capabilities it is developing. It’s not the first or only sales-force-automation vendor to adapt to Windows 8 and the Surface; Veeva’s competitor, Cegedim, also has a Surface product out. For its part, Microsoft is trying—hard—to win market share in the business-tablet arena, where Apple has a significant lead. “Windows 8 delivers the ability to have cutting-edge technology wherever you are,” said Craig Dewar, a marketing director at Microsoft, “and the addition of Veeva to the growing list of apps and services available for customers demonstrates our commitment to the industry.”
Microsoft touts its compatibility with Microsoft Office and other tools, and that perspective has some appeal to pharma-industry IT managers looking at an increasingly complex infrastructure of tablets, smartphones and desktop computers to support. But as both Apple, Microsoft (and many others) are advancing their cloud-based IT platforms, the race will continue with hardware platforms gradually uncoupling, to a certain degree, from the software they run. "In the final analysis, we're giving customers the flexiblity to meet their needs," says Chen.