Thermo Fisher Mobilizes Sales With Mobile Tech

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Mobile technology

A leading biotech firm revamps its approach to marketing and sales with mobile technology and a mobile content management platform that boosts collaboration.

As mobility and other digital technologies take hold, a growing number of companies are finding it essential to rethink processes, rewire connections and revamp systems. But putting the right solutions and processes in place—particularly in the marketing and sales arena—can prove daunting.

Thermo Fischer Scientific, a $17 billion scientific instruments and life sciences solutions firm with 50,000 employees in 50 countries, is among the increasing number of organizations that are looking to take a leap forward.

"There is a tremendous need to support our sales force and drive greater productivity," states Jasmine Zheng, global sales force effectiveness platforms manager for Thermo Fisher. "A few years ago, we recognized that we were facing challenges. The sales team had to find content and data from multiple sources and platforms. They spent a lot of time finding the specific modeling data and other materials they needed." In addition, the company lacked a platform on which the sales force could interact with peers.

As a result, sales reps sometimes spent hours or days scouring internal sites for PowerPoint and Excel files, email attachments, PDFs and an array of other data sources in order to assemble the right materials for a customer meeting. In all, more than 50,000 catalog products exist, and the number of sales combinations is enormous.

After the firm launched Apple iPads and a mobility suite in 2012, it recognized that the content management and delivery system was broken and changes were in order. "People were using our mobility application, but were also turning to a variety of other outside apps and tools," recalls Chris O'Leary, director of global sales force effectiveness platforms. "The environment was confusing, and it did not drive a best-practices approach."

Turning to Mobile Content Management

Thermo Fisher turned to a mobile content management platform from Bigtincan to introduce a level of connectivity and collaboration that hadn't previously existed. In February 2014, the company turned on the platform, which introduced a far more streamlined way to build custom presentations.

"It not only provided a simpler and more efficient way for the sales force to obtain the materials they required, it also made it possible to house their own information and share information," Zheng adds. "The system cuts down the downtime in the home office and enables [the salespeople] to spend more time in front of their customers and peers."

The benefits have been notable. O'Leary estimates that the platform has resulted in about a 5 percent productivity gain for the sales staff, along with an ability to assemble better content.

"It essentially gives us an extra selling day every month," he explains. It also cut down on the need to print materials. The system generates electronic binders that are easily shared with customers.

Finally, Thermo Fisher can view data and usage trends from a dashboard. This makes it possible to better understand what materials sales professionals are using and how they are using them. This, in turn, aids in the design of training materials.

"We look at this as a win for the company, the employees and the customers," Zheng explains. "It is part of the ongoing evolution of mobility and how we can better match content with the specific needs of our sales force."

This article was originally published on 2015-05-06
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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