Biosystems applies CRM to global network

Despite data collection forming the basis of the company's marketing campaigns, pharmaceutical research firm Applied Biosystems had no central database or CRM system in place.

With sales representatives located across the globe, data entry methods varied at each location and local data was encrypted in foreign languages.

But the biggest problem was the use of time-consuming tools such as spreadsheets.

Anthony Watson, Applied Biosystems senior IT shared commercial systems manager, said the company needed to deliver sales and forecasting reports to regional, national and corporate levels, while accommodating foreign languages and allowing access for its partner network "We didn't really have a common view of the customer and who we were selling to or even to what account," Watson said.

"There was no central database and spreadsheets were our primary marketing tool, and because of the time the spreadsheets took to compile, they were filled with information that could be weeks old, so any management decision was in danger of being based on outmoded data. "We wanted users to store notes in their native languages and record addresses that made sense locally."

The company selected's CRM software modules - SFA, Marketing, App Exchange Builder, and Analytics as its hosted, Web-based solution, which allows sales staff to store sales data in a central database that facilitates multiple languages.

Watson said the multiple languages facility make campaigns more effective and allows its partner sales network to log and retrieve information more easily.

"[Multiple languages] make it easy for our partner network to enter and access data in their native tongues, with only a few critical fields requiring English, while we benefit from the availability of local data which we leverage for local campaigning," he said.

The implementation began 12 months ago and is operating in the Asia Pacific and the US with a pilot program underway in Germany.

However, Watson said it will be operating globally by 2008 across the rest of North America, Europe, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea.

The two-year deal with Salesforce cost $500,000.

Watson says there are about 300 current users and he expects this to rise to 500 before next year.

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