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Customer Portals that Deliver

How a Thermo Scientific business unit connects with customers in the cloud.

Kent Nelson, eMarketing communications specialist at Thermo Scientific Cell Culture and Bioprocessing in Logan, UT, faced two big dilemmas: how to build an online marketing communications library of more than 500 marketing and technical documents for internal use and how to provide secure access to 22,000 Product Certificates of Analysis—documents required by customers that identify exact formulas and certify each product lot.

The solution? RevBase, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for marketing asset management, document management, and online ordering from Massachusetts-based Longwood Software.

Nelson’s business is part of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (www.thermofisher.com), a leader in serving science with annual revenue of $10 billion and more than 30,000 employees. The company has 350,000-plus customers within the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, hospitals and clinical diagnostic labs, universities, research institutions, and government agencies, as well as environmental and industrial process control firms.

The Thermo Scientific Cell Culture and BioProcessing unit serves organizations engaged in cancer and other medical research, and has 800 employees in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Its Cell Culture Excellence portfolio provides essential instruments, consumables, reagents, media, services, and software tailored to the needs of cell culture processes.

In 2009, Nelson began to search for a way to eliminate the 13 hours per week that he and his staff spent responding to individual calls and e-mails requesting specific Product Certificates of Analysis. He also wanted to replace the CDs that marketing burned and mailed out each time a new piece of product literature was developed.

“Burning CD’s and getting them out to the field was expensive and time consuming, but it got even worse when a previously issued document needed to be updated,” says Nelson. “We needed to relieve our staff of these burdens and make it more cost- and time-efficient by automating the process. Regarding the Certificates of Analysis, we wanted to find a way to make them available via a customer portal, but at the same time, avoid competitors accessing them.”

The business wanted a “cloud-based” solution—that is, an application that was externally hosted, Web-accessible, scalable, easy to implement, and required no IT support. During a corporate marketing communications Web conference in early 2009, a sister company discussed its use of a cloud-based solution that was working well for it and multiple other Thermo businesses: RevBase.

“I saw what was demonstrated during that Web conference, and said to myself, ‘I need that.’ So I started the process of getting RevBase implemented for our business,” says Nelson. “Soon we had a RevBase solution up and running, configured to meet our specific needs.”

In addition to an internal Marketing Communications Library used by 200 marketing, sales, sales support, and technical documentation staff, the business needed an Internet-accessible “public” library for Product Certificates of Analysis. A solution was needed to allow online access to certificates for customers only. RevBase addressed this with a search tool that requires customers to enter the exact part and lot number of the desired certificate before it is viewed or downloaded.

A related need was archiving thousands of certificates in the system for at least five years. To accomplish this, the RevBase system includes high-availability, high-volume data storage to accommodate the anticipated growth of certificates.

“We needed to give Thermo Scientific content managers the ability to add new certificates—typically 40 or more each day—as products were developed. The RevBase implementation team came through for us with a distributed content management process that is easy and reliable,” Nelson says. “As a safety check, all updated items added to the Product Certificates library are listed in a daily report that RevBase creates and e-mails to me and the content managers—so any errors are caught and corrected before customers have access to new certificates.”

Nelson says Longwood Software has been quick to respond to requests or concepts he has for RevBase additions or new features. “It has been a collaborative process working with the RevBase team. They respond positively to ideas I offer, and have ‘pushed the envelope’ on developing new features and ways to use RevBase. They also are quick to troubleshoot and solve any issues that come up.”

What’s next for the RevBase system at Thermo Scientific? “We’re looking to integrate with an internal system to automatically load documents,” Nelson says, “which would streamline the process even more.”

Longwood Software, Inc. (Maynard, MA) is a provider of software-as-a-service solutions for marketing asset management. Longwood Software's RevBase system is a comprehensive marketing asset management system that was first introduced as a software application in 1997 and as a hosted service in 2000. Leading marketing organizations rely on RevBase to manage, secure, share, and track their full range of marketing assets. For additional information, visit www.revbase.com.