It’s fitting that Pinnacle IT President Pam Kick decided to renovate the growing offices of the company in the elegant yellows and browns of fall leaves. The company is apparently saving a lot of trees.

In November, the entire sales force at Pine State Trading of Augusta switched from ring binders to the Apple iPad running the new Pinnacle Reader application, saving the statewide food and beverage distributor an estimated $100,000 annually in paper and mailing costs, Kick said.

The reader displays a variety of documents which can be emailed to clients. It can handle several file types, from Word documents to Excel spreadsheets to PDF files — all centrally located and controlled by the user’s company. Along with cutting paper costs, Kick said, the synchronization feature of the application increases distribution efficiency.

The reader also plays video, using a custom controller written by Pinnacle.

Kick said that the reader is mainly for sales people, but he added “any organization that needs to distribute the same document in a secure fashion to large numbers of people could use the Pinnacle Reader.” The price is negotiated on a per client basis, she said.

Pinnacle itself uses the application when presenting proposals to clients.

The transition from paper to digital is likely to continue. Apple recently announced that eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies are using or testing the iPad. And with $15 billion to $20 billion in sales during its first year, analysts estimate that if it sold nothing but iPads, Apple would still rank in the top third of the Fortune list.

And it’s not just iPads. This year more people will surf the web on notepads and smartphones than home computers.

Kick wants Pinnacle IT to part of this paperless mobile trend.

Founded in 1996, with offices in Waterville and Bangor, the company has a dozen employees and ten more contractors. It is currently hiring more programmers to help the company develop mobile applications for the iPhone and Android platforms.

Regardless of the reader’s promise, the core of the company’s business remains in desktop and server applications. Network support and website design make up about a quarter of the business, while complex software engineering remaining the company’s “wheelhouse,” as Kick describes it.

“Primarily we consider ourselves a high-end programming shop. People are not coming to us for the easy things.”

This often takes the form of database work and e-commerce storefonts.

One client who sought help was Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Pinnacle shrunk their website from thirty-five thousand to three hundred pages by converting it to a .Net database.

Before, the broadcasting network would cut and paste news stories into a new webpage. Now the process is automated, creating an interface with the national news feed, which is faster and also keeps the data organized, rather than spread out over thousands of pages. That makes it easier for people search the website for information.

“They were thrilled,” says Kick.

Instead of designing games or other applications to sell, the company often develops software for other businesses that Pinnacle in turn helps market.

“We respond to what clients bring to us for ideas. They’ll have an idea and we’ll partner with them,” she says. “We’ll say, ‘This is your idea, we’ll develop it for you, but we’ll also take it to market and you can get a percentage from that.'”

Along with programming code, today’s applications need a support desk and marketing, which Pinnacle provides.

The Bangor Area Storm Water Group contacted Pinnacle for software to help it navigate intricate Department of Environmental Protection regulations. The group then contracted with Pinnacle to market the program.

“We have eighteen municipalities in Maine using it, and we’re trying to expand into New Hampshire and Vermont. The DEP likes it because now they’re getting consistent reports.”

As Kick’s fingers move swiftly over the face of her iPad, demonstrating the Pinnacle Reader’s features, tapping on the sparkling icons also designed by the company, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the future of software will be for these portable networked devices.

“I’m kind of addicted to mine,” she said.


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