New England Biolabs created an app with Salesforce that allows marketers to see what kind of lab samples their customers are using. And with the tap of button, they send customers new samples, refill orders, and more.
In a world where people expect a ride to show up just a few moments after they order it with the tap of a finger on a smartphone, is it any surprise that life sciences researchers are under tremendous pressure to discover breakthroughs faster than ever?
For New England Biolabs, the very technologies that have made people less patient for answers have also turned out to be the solution. In fact, with the Lightning Platform, the team at NEB is able to quickly create and deploy social and mobile apps that allow scientists in laboratories around the world to get the precious materials they need for experiments — all with a higher degree of convenience and support than ever before.
Because NEB offers the largest selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research, one of its biggest business challenges is ensuring that the right products are available to researchers when and where they need them.
One solution was simple: Put NEB freezers in labs around the world stocked with the materials scientists in those labs require. However, while this freezer program allowed NEB’s customers (scientists in labs across the globe) to access products more easily, it still left NEB in the dark about which specific scientists were using which samples, and how often.
“We’re all about helping researchers get to that eureka moment faster.”
“We began to think, what would our freezers tell us if we connected them into our Salesforce environment. How could that help us to become more responsive to our customers,” said Ken Grady, former CIO at NEB.
In 2012, the New England Biolabs team went to Dreamforce and observed what other companies — like GE, with its connected engine — were doing with Salesforce. But the IT team still wasn’t sure what to build or connect, or even how to leverage the platform more aggressively to be more responsive to customers. Until, that is, team members went back to the hotel to relax and found the answer in their minibar: If the hotel could track the products they were pulling from the minibar, why couldn’t NEB’s freezers track what scientists were purchasing?
Taking another look at the Lightning Platform, with its APIs and solutions like Heroku, the team found that developing an interactive freezer model would be faster than a more traditional model. In fact, it took only a matter weeks, rather than months, to iterate and integrate the new model.
The APIs from the Lightning Platform made it possible to do things that no other platform could. In fact, using the Lightning Platform, NEB started by building a custom inventory app in less than 30 days. This app, residing on a tablet on the front of each freezer, allows scientists to authenticate themselves, view available products, open freezers, and scan products for checkout. Every step of this process is automated and connected on the back end to Salesforce, where NEB can monitor the products being purchased, send automated purchase confirmation emails, and track new buying trends and interests of scientists in real time on their desktop or Salesforce mobile app.
NEB could also capture customer interaction data, freezer temperature, and lock status, to ensure product quality, which was something the company could never do before. Additionally, NEB connected Salesforce to its own back-end systems and automated inventory replenishment through its existing ERP system to consistently provide scientists with the products they need on a daily basis.