In 2009 a pharma company acquired a cancer treatment drug for $800 million. After 4 years under the hosts brand, sales were stagnant and given current figures it would take 530 years to break even. 2 previous innovation efforts had also failed to yield any results or real insights.
The product team went through the AfCE Corporate Startup Accelerator which forced the team to take a big step back and treat the product as a new potential business model that they wanted to pursue. It soon became apparent that there were more assumptions than knowledge in the treatment’s business model, so a process of lean experimentation driven by the team ensued. Soon after a cold reality set in. The assumptions, upon which the financial success of the business model had been based upon, were invalid and this was the first time the team had any real proof.
Often when corporates acquire, merge or partner, all the analysis and due diligence is financial forecast based. The teams biggest learning was that their employer never should have acquired the treatment in the first place, and this could have been proven within a part-time 12 week Intrapreneurship program.
A team within a large healthcare company believed that the way clinical trials were managed and conducted, was largely out of date, damaging the quality of trials and costing the organization millions. Typically only 10% of trials were completed on time, many mistakes due to use of pen and paper impacted the quality of trial results and for one trial over 20,000 queries to support staff had to be made as coordinators had no easy way to find the missing information themselves.
The team saw potential to digitize the clinical trial process but knew it would be hard to change the old way of doing things. They zoomed in on local Study Coordinators and Principal Investigators as influential early adopters who shared their biggest pain points around mistakes made, recruiting patients, relationships and scheduling with patients, as well as compliance issues. They managed to get 58% of their clinical trial patients into the app to jointly test proposed features within 2 week sprint cycles. From almost 40 features they managed to develop 8 sticky features that ensured high engagement with the app, achieving a 92 NPS score. The use of the app would save 140 mil annually by saving time and increasing the quality of clinical trial outcomes.
The team were bold enough to challenge the status quo of a very long-standing and traditional “this is how we do it here” process. However, they did it by collecting evidence every step of the way. As the team like to say: “if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything”.
Sales Engineers at an international producer of over 3000 oil based products, often have the challenge to recommend the very best product to their b2b customers. This means they rely on the handful of products they know well, meaning the customer does not benefit from the high spec of newly designed products that can block the competition.
A truly cross-functional team was formed with members across 3 continents from Sales, IT, HR and Product Specialists. They pivoted 3 times before settling on an internal search engine and database that would “find the right lube” for thousands of existing and new applications. Sales Engineers would be able to view the properties of the lube, ratings from customers as well as internal expert advice about the product they could immediately share with their customer. Due to time saving alone, the solution will save EUR 11 million per year.
At first the team thought they were losing business because they were not responding fast enough to the customer’s request….later they learned that Sales Engineers were not even responding with the very best product choice, but it was not speed that the end customer cared about…
It emerged that the real reason why Sales Engineers were not recommending new products was because they lacked confidence, as these are complicated specialised products to be recommending. Speed and efficiency of current tools such as CRM systems, asking more experienced colleagues, accessing docs in sharepoint, receiving training etc were secondary reasons. By focussing on “increasing confidence” at the core of the solution offering, the team were especially able to ramp up newer Sales Engineers that didn’t have the years of experience and get the older ones to start recommending different (better) products, which differentiated them in front of their customer.
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