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SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare Gets Information to Its Sales Force with ASI Inquire

Published
  • March 01 1999, 1:00am EST

BACKGROUND: SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare (SBCH), the fifth largest over-the-counter healthcare company in the U.S., manufactures and markets a strong portfolio of over-the counter medicines and health-related products in the smoking cessation, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal, oral care, dermatological, central nervous system and feminine hygiene categories. Leading brands include Nicorette, Nicoderm, Tagamet, Tums, Aquafresh, Contac, Massengill and Oxy. At SmithKline Beecham, healthcare ­ prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure ­ is our promise. Through scientific excellence and commercial expertise, we provide products and services throughout the world that promise health and well-being.

PLATFORMS: We are operating ASI Inquire on IBM ThinkPad laptops (PII/266MHz), running Windows NT 4.0 workstations. The Inquire server is a Compaq server using NT 4.0. Our main database, Sybase 11, runs on an RS/6000. Inquire extracts data directly from the Sybase database or flat files in addition to any ODBC-compliant database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Every level of our sales organization expressed a need to obtain actionable information more quickly. Reports were being distributed on paper. Analysts spent too much time distributing those reports, detracting from their time available to perform and answer analyses and in-depth queries. SBCH wanted to fulfill its objective of moving to a fact-based selling model for competitive advantage in the marketplace, making business intelligence available to sales personnel from account managers to field sales management. Before installing ASI Inquire, reports requested by the sales organization typically required as long as two weeks to fulfill. Using ASI Inquire, sales force personnel are now able to immediately answer 80 percent of their own questions without having to ask the analysts for help. They can obtain answers from individually customized data sets of between 5 and 40MB. (The total size of the network data sets range about 430MB.) They can also query larger sets of data while connected to the company's LAN. This frees up the in-house data analysts to perform more in-depth research on compiled data. In addition, consistent reports are now made available to each of SBCH's nine regions in half the time it formerly took to mail paper-based reports.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SBCH has more than 200 field-based laptop users who dial in to the company's network (as often as daily, depending on their information needs) and download personalized data sets. They can, in an unconnected fashion, perform customized analyses on their laptops and use the results to discover fact-based selling opportunities.

STRENGTHS: ASI Inquire's incredible speed enables SBCH personnel to quickly review reports and produce answers to queries against large data sets. We are utilizing its ability to produce customized views for remote users. It is scalable for both mobile and network-based users. It has the ability to optimize more than 2GB of raw data to less than one-quarter that size, providing more rapid analysis and greater data access.

WEAKNESSES: Delivering more than 5MB of data over phone lines via a packet-switched network can be time-invasive (assuming 20 minutes/MB and a 28.8kbps connection). Lengthy downloads are not uncommon. We intend to solve this problem by delivering data via CDs.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In our opinion, nobody else was in the game. ASI presented a unique solution. No other company of the six or seven we looked at could deliver ASI's scalability and its ability to deliver the product across a distributed environment. ASI was alone in helping us meet our major objective of coming up with an HQ-based tool to develop a fact-based selling program.

DELIVERABLES: ASI Inquire enables our field sales force to produce on-demand reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We found that once ASI's project team moved on after the initial implementation, it was occasionally tough to obtain a timely response from the company if we had questions. ASI has been made aware of this and has already taken steps to be more responsive to our needs.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is not as complete as it could be. We believe the "Quick Start" documentation would benefit personnel who need to utilize specific data sets.


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