On the move

Modern Pharmaceutical Company does not expect to grow the UAE drug market by deploying a mobile CRM but it does expect other business benefits. Colin Edwards feels much better about only waiting six hours instead of days for medicines to be delivered.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  May 1, 2007

Don't be surprised if the rep from Modern Pharmaceutical Company (MPC) whips out a tablet PC at his pharmaceutical client to check stock availability and says that an order will be delivered in six hours instead of the expected 24-hour delivery that was his best promise in the past.

And the pharmacist must not be afraid that the rep will have to endure Dubai's lunch time traffic crawl and snarl up to get back to Sharjah to place the order. It is already being processed as he drinks a cup of coffee before going to his next appointment.

This not only allows me to differentiate myself, but it allows me to differentiate myself for a significant period of time.

Dubbed the CTC (Close-to-Customer) project, MPC, part of the giant business conglomerate, Al Batha, has become the first regional user of SAP's mobile CRM.

In the last four months delivery has improved from an average 24 hours to six. Of course it also means that MPC can instantly check the credit worthiness of its pharmacy clients while in front of them. It can then decide on the spot whether or not to take the order.

"The 18-24 hour delivery we achieved previously was already market leading here in the UAE," according to Jan Felton, CEO of MPC, who says that pharmacies are used to waiting several days for a delivery. "The sales person now takes the order in the field and sends it via corporate GPRS directly to the warehouse where it is picked and packed, which means that we can deliver in six hours."

Felton stresses that this and sales rep activity planning, where the sales person's time is planned and maximised, are just the initial benefits of the system, because the company is still working out how it can leverage the system in the field.

"These are the first two elements of the mobile CRM, but it is only the tip of the iceberg that the CRM will make possible for us as we progress over the years. Our objective now is to embed those two elements in our sales force, and get them working efficiently with the CRM," he says.

Its goal is to transform the MPC sales force from order takers to business partners to the pharmacists to ensure the efficient delivery of medicine.

For that to happen the company has invested in a change management programme for its sales force, training and empowering them to take decisions out in the field rather than merely take the orders. MPC, which is responsible for more that 25% of the medicines distributed in the UAE, has been a SAP customer since 1998, and in addition to the mobile CRM system uses SAP's business intelligence module and has deployed a balanced scorecard for all of its activities.

The BI component is integrated with the CRM so that the sales people can make better decisions, such as what products to cross-sell, based on up-to-the-minute facts. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are also set so that sales performance is closely monitored by the company.

The mobile CRM deployment is likely to be rolled out to other companies in the privately owned group, which consists of more than 20 autonomous companies including automobiles, pharmaceuticals, contracting, manufacturing, electronics, FMCG, real estate, education, and trading firms.

MPC has four dedicated divisions - pharmaceutical, medical equipment, consumer products, and retail pharmacies. Two of them are currently using mobile CRM, but once bedded down over the coming months, MPC plans to expand the system.

"SAP mobile CRM gets us closer to our customers, and that gives us significant competitive advantage," says Felton. Having a mobile CRM is unlikely to result in greater sales of medicines in MPC's case, "because you can't make more ill people", but it will result in faster turnaround to the pharmacies and could attract more distributors to the company.

"Any return on investment is now based on increased sales. The return for us is that companies will choose us to distribute their products over our competitors," adds Felton.

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