Vishy Narayanan, Head of Online, Cochlear, explains, “Like many businesses that grow rapidly in a short time, Cochlear had a few localised branches with a strong online presence, but we had no consolidated mechanism for engaging and delivering information to our customers (recipients and candidates) and professionals: our channel partners.” Without a standardised global online presence, Cochlear’s regional offices built their own web platforms using a wide range of technology.
“We had close to 75 websites across multiple platforms. Some sites were managed by internal teams and others were outsourced; it was a challenge optimising our technology infrastructure, which meant it was costly and inefficient.”
Content distribution and management processes had issues with consistency, making information sharing across the organisation difficult and time-consuming.
“We wanted to improve user experience with a consistent look and feel, better branding and using more intuitive interfaces. We needed to build an online business platform that other parts of the business such as marketing, could leverage to drive customer engagement – rather than each area creating and managing its own solution to satisfy the needs of each new project,” Vishy Narayanan says.
Trusted partner enables seamless transition
Cochlear was in the midst of rolling out IBM WebSphere Portal, so IBM was a natural choice for this project and to support the commitment to implementing a standardised web and content management platform.
According to Vishy Narayanan, “We needed a flexible solution to cater for our high availability, enterprise-level demands and cope with rapid change and since IBM was already used in other parts of the business we decided to stick with the same platform.”
Following initial discussions, IBM recommended its Business Partner, GLiNTECH, to deliver an enterprise portal and related content management solution leveraging a shared infrastructure and providing a role-based single point of access for both content and web services.
Vishy Narayanan says, “We knew that the scale of this project was unprecedented, so we needed a partner with ready skills that were quick to deploy, and who could help us manage a roll-out across more than 24 countries in close 20 different languages.”
GLiNTECH provided resources skilled in configuration of the IBM solution and integration into various back-end systems, through to development of content structures, sites, portlets and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).
“The calibre of our GLiNTECH resources was excellent. GLiNTECH provided the perfect blend of expertise and strong relationships with technical professionals in the IBM Labs – who became an invaluable resource for us as we forged new ground”, adds Vishy Narayanan.
Deployment started with Cochlear’s international site acting as a pilot. Vishy Narayanan says that this approach allowed his team to leverage what it learnt to tweak the deployment process for the other country sites. It was then able to migrate close to 20 country sites in the second phase, in under a year, which the organisation felt was a great result.
Training is key to managing such a large deployment so, in addition to initial familiarisation training on using the new platform, Narayanan and his team run weekly forums to share tips and ensure global stakeholders know how to optimise any new functionality to their best advantage.
Consolidated strategy delivers multiple business benefits
The organisation has achieved what is believed to be a first for the medical devices industry – a single platform for a comprehensive, company-wide online strategy.
Vishy Narayanan says, “Cochlear has gone from a collection of 75 websites to just 20 – and we are continuously monitoring the number of our websites to ensure it meets business requirements. When we started out there was a lot of concern from our international teams that the final outcome would be inferior to the web platforms they had already created themselves – but the feedback so far has been positive and we continue to look for ways to optimise and improve the platform to deliver a better customer experience.”
A key measurement for Cochlear is increased traffic to its websites. Vishy Narayanan says, “Preliminary results from user testing we ran in Australia and the UK shows a very positive 15% increase in web traffic.
While the platform is just one part of the puzzle, I believe having consistent content and a uniform look and feel certainly impacted this very positive outcome.”
An example involving a major new product launch, where Cochlear needed to have information about the product live across all country websites in a relatively short period, demonstrated that the challenge – which was significant under Cochlear’s previous content management process proved easy enough on the new platform.
According to Vishy Narayanan, “The medical devices industry is heavily regulated, which means many Cochlear products are not available in all countries at the same time. In addition, the indications and specifications for any product must meet the different legislative requirements of individual countries. This was a critical success factor for us because, no matter how good the platform or the engagement is, it has to deliver what the business needs. With IBM and GLiNTECH’s resources, we achieved what was needed – and on time.”