In an industry better known for cutting-edge R&D than innovative use of IT, Solvay Pharmaceuticals stands apart. Undertaking Fusion, a massive transition from paper-based sales processes and stovepiped back-end systems to an integrated CRM solution using tablet PCs, digitized forms and signatures, and tightly integrated applications and databases, the pharmaceuticals firm's IT team delivered just what the doctor ordered.
With approximately 1,500 employees, the U.S. subsidiary of Belgium-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals manufactures cardiometabolic, neuroscientific, and women’s and men’s health products. Prior to its transition, Solvay relied on paper-based sales processes that were not only inefficient but potentially error-prone in an era of increased regulation and oversight.
“Every time our 900 sales staff would deliver samples to practitioners, the doctor would have to fill out and sign a paper form, whose information would then be recorded into Excel spreadsheets by our main office staff and reconciled manually with our sales force automation software,” says Donna Lenning, senior IT manager at Solvay.
Solvay also had a separate homegrown sales force management application and a large Oracle data warehouse full of customer and regulatory data. The lack of integration among these systems and its sales force automation application, not to mention its other back-end SAP HR and manufacturing systems, hampered the company’s ability to target customers efficiently and track sales calls and samples distribution.
Solvay’s Fusion project addressed these issues with a set of specialized Microsoft .Net-based life sciences applications from Cegedim-Dendrite, including Mobile Intelligence, Sample Guardian, and Organization Manager, plus real-time data integration using Tibco’s Application Integration Services and a few other point-to-point integration tools.
Today, doctors fill out and sign electronic forms on Lenovo ThinkPad X60 tablet PCs with up-to-date customer information pushed down from the data warehouse. The sales staff then transmits the form information and signature to the home office over the company VPN, where it is synchronized automatically with the back-end sales force application.
Mobile Intelligence also pushes current marketing messages and Flash-based multimedia presentations out to the tablets, which sales reps can use to engage customers much more effectively. The home office can track which messages and presentations are most effective at generating sales. Integration among Mobile Intelligence, Sample Guardian, Organization Manager, SAP, and the data warehouse allows much more effective sample tracking and alignment of sales staff with appropriate customers.
The Fusion project, which started in 2005, took 20 months, including four weeks of staff training on the tablet PCs and applications.
“We’re seeing much tighter prescriber targeting and a significant increase in prescriber face time with sales reps,” says Lenning, who adds that the number of staff managing sample accountability has been reduced from seven to two and the quality of life for its sales force has much improved, now that reps no longer have to work on manual record keeping until 10 p.m. each night.
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