This process of learning about customer needs is creating another commercial service that could have a huge revenue potential, Thomas says. Over the past three years, Thomas' staff has been working with global giant Eli Lilly to create a new service for designing clinical drug trials. They created a team of people from both companies, set up shop in Indianapolis, where Eli Lilly is headquartered, and spent almost three years creating a process that is heavily reliant on analytics and data visualization.
Now that work is bearing fruit. Eli Lilly has a service designed for its needs, and Quintiles is starting to market that service to other pharmaceutical companies. Full launch is still in the works, but Quintiles is already seeing more than $400 million in new business from early sales that include this new offering, Thomas says.
Consequently, executives decided to set up a new business unit for the service--called the Center for Integrated Drug Development--with its own P&L. Quintiles appointed Rick Sax, SVP and global head of integrated clinical services, to lead the unit. While Sax is staffing up the front office, Thomas's IT staff is handling the technology back end, and what Thomas says was "just an exciting idea" three years ago is now on the verge of being another IT-driven service in Quintiles' product portfolio.
Seizing the Opportunity
Technology can be especially powerful when it improves the sales process. TBC Corp. operates multiple tire and automotive services brands throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, including Big O Tires, National Tire and Battery, and Midas. In every retail and service location, sales associates are faced with an overwhelming variety of options for the many makes, models and model years of vehicles. When the company decided to upgrade its existing point-of-sale systems, CIO Steve Smith saw an opportunity to streamline the sales process.
The new system, which is still in pilot, has a sexier acronym than name--Next Information Technology for Retail Operations, or NITRO--but the real excitement comes from what it enables. NITRO, which combines more than 35 data feeds about parts, service and tires into a single system that sales associates access via a cloud-based HTML5 touch-screen application, has already boosted overall sales by 5 to 15%. The reason: Associates only have to type in the vehicle identification number to get a display of exactly what parts it needs and what's in stock and available to sell.
"Our associates are using the system to promote a wider array of vehicle maintenance services than just tire replacement," Smith says. "They literally show the customer a graphical schematic of their vehicle, complete with the maintenance history and service recommendations based on manufacturer-provided guidelines."