Microsoft helps car dealer app builder achieve global credibility
Bright Box is a fast-growing former — Microsoft BizSpark incubator success story building on its initial Microsoft-assisted breakthrough – a remote vehicle manager, Remoto – with a new offering: a toolkit that enables a car dealer to swiftly and easily build personalized mobile apps for customers called Dealer Mobility. This toolkit, built with open source software hosted on the Azure platform, is popular with 450+dealers and 500,000 users on both iOS and Android, including 20% of the top players in Eastern Europe.
An on-going partnership delivering consistent success
When technology entrepreneur Alexander Dimchenko needed an environment to help turn his ideas for highly scalable mobile services for the global car owner and dealer communities into reality, he decided to partner with Microsoft.
That decision led him and his team to work building the first phase of his company’s success using the BizSpark incubation and support structure innovative tech firms like his have been leveraging all over the world. It was unquestionably the right move at the time, he confirms: “BizSpark was invaluable to us when we were first starting up.”
Bright Box, the firm Dimchenko leads, has grown rapidly, thanks to the global success of their product, Remoto. It is an app that offers a turnkey smartphone-delivered ‘connected car’ application for drivers. Now Mr. Dimchenko wants to take his company on to the next phase in its growth. It is time, then, to build an even bigger proposition – an easy-to-use app that car dealers can offer to new customers to build loyalty and that can be a constant source of assistance to the vehicle owner. “What we really needed to bring to market was an app ‘constructor’ users could work with out of the box,” he says.
The problem here, was to create an internal process that would allow Bright Box’s sales team to guarantee safe, secure and reliable solutions for car dealers – at scale. Again, Mr. Dimchenko turned to Microsoft for help. He decided to leverage on the scalability and reliability of the best open source tools running on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to develop the company’s ‘app factory’ service – Dealer Mobility.
Reducing development time and cost
“We are primarily an open source shop and are always looking to get the most we can out of what we can best leverage”, notes Mr. Dimchenko I’d say we consistently reduce our costs by as much as 30% by choosing the best open source software available, compared to in-house equivalents, if we can even find them.”
Why is the service an app factory? In this case, the ease of accessing back end Azure services like a database, analytical tools and messaging functionality without users having to write a single line of code makes the offering, developed with open source technologies on the Azure platform, an instant hit with car dealers.
Already, dealers have been able to crank out of the factory, over 250,000 app deployments. Dealers can use a menu to quickly choose icons, logos and the individual services they want to offer with their own app, and for both the iOS and Android worlds, he says.
“It saves us a lot of time and cost internally as we are able to exploit the flexibility and scalability of open source software on the Azure platform,” Mr. Dimchenko confirms. The results speak for themselves, with the service already the source of half a million end-user apps.
Another highly attractive aspect of using open source software on Azure as a development base for the ‘factory’ is its proven reliability, according to Alexander Dimchenko. He says. “Dealers want reliability in their software, as much as with the car brands they offer,” he points out. “We need this app to be up 24x7, all over the world, with minimal downtime. That’s the reason we’re partnering with an enterprise cloud player like Microsoft. It’s a big bonus for us as a business. Azure is a huge brand now, too – it’s seen as secure, highly compliant, a great development platform for Open Source, a secure repository to store sensitive data, well protected by Microsoft and trusted in the enterprise. That means it’s a really great option for what we want to do here.”
Azure is also proving to be an ideal ‘lab’ not just for development but also for testing and ‘experimentation’ – in this case, of how Big Data and the Internet of Things features (with)in Microsoft’s tech could be used to make Dealer Mobility even more appealing to target markets, Mr. Dimchenko says. “We are really interested in exploring how Big Data databases like R and Hadoop could work with Azure’s Machine Learning capabilities; there’s real potential in the way they could interact and help analyze the raw data coming back from all the apps dealers are giving their customers (vehicle owners) now. So much more is being added to Azure – it’s fast becoming the best platform for open source development in my opinion,” he adds.
‘Excellent, consistent service from Microsoft’
To sum up, then, how has this ambitious tech player benefited from fusing open source and Azure? The answer’s clear, says Mr. Dimchenko, “As BizSpark program graduates, we’ve now had years of excellent, consistent service and support from Microsoft – from advice and top-level consultancy on how to best architect Dealer Mobility to maximize the synergies between open source and Azure, to the amazing resources and assistance we received when Bright Box first started.
“With open source hosted on the Azure platform, Bright Box has created an environment that is primed for the next phase of growth. “We have a development system built on a flexible, open cloud platform. That is exactly what we got by putting our trust in open source software running on Azure.