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    Leadership Series: The Customer Experience with David Pumberger: Part 2

    David Pumberger By David Pumberger - 3 minutes read

    In part one of this piece, ZAGENO Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, David Pumberger sat down to answer our questions about how he and his team undertake product development and the processes they use to ensure their scientific customers remain at the center of this work.

    In part two, we stopped asking questions and just let David speak.

    As you’ll see from the narrative below, he has a lot to say about what scientists might be doing in the wee hours of the morning, the very exacting nature of science and how discarded B2C technology could thrive in today’s lab.




    The Importance of Being Practical

    Consider where the life science industry was just 20 years ago. Its footprint was significantly smaller than it is today. Back then, keeping labs fully stocked with all the equipment and supplies scientists needed was done in a very old school way. In was common for such facilities to grant access rights to manufacturer/supplier representatives. Credentialed with their own badges, these reps could walk straight into the laboratories, catch-up with the scientists, their projects and collect and fulfill supply orders. Back then, engagement was person-to-person with suppliers having a disproportionate amount of transactional power. 

    In the period since, the industry has undergone remarkable changes. We now recognize life science hubs across the world, in places like Cambridge (UK), Heidelberg, Germany, and Boston-Cambridge, Massachusetts. Within these hubs small biotechs have sprung up and with them teams of researchers pushing science to new limits (see customer testimonial, below).

    Meanwhile, over the same period, software developers in the world’s tech hubs have been fine-tuning how digital commerce would forever alter the relationship between buyers and sellers. Today, the script has flipped with buyers now having the power.

    Today, the script has flipped with buyers now having the power.

    With funding sources more apt to scrutinize progress and production, today’s scientists are under greater pressure to succeed, so it should come as no surprise that they need to be more protective than ever about professional time management. To accommodate the moon-shot type research being conducted across the industry many of today’s labs never actually close. Think about it - if cell cultures require a scientists attention at 3 AM on a Saturday night then the scientist is there at 3 AM on a Saturday night. It’s common and it’s happening everywhere. You can begin to see why visits from supplier reps are kindly looked upon as an oddity from the past but, mostly as an unwelcome disruption.

    .  .  .

    Platelet BioGenesis is the world leader in making platelets. Prior to ZAGENO, its team was searching hundreds of web sites, spending 2-3 hours a day managing its lab supplies. Today, it's one-stop-shopping through ZAGENO’s marketplace of more than 13 million products from 3,500+ suppliers.

    .  .  .

    As product developers for scientists it’s important to understand this history and stay connected to the practical aspects of their experience. To accomplish this ZAGENO focuses on four aspects of the customer experience:

    1. Search - product search must be intuitive so scientists easily find what they need.
    2. Checkout - ordering should be effortless, requiring fewer mouse clicks.
    3. Compliance - must help customers meet internal and external compliance needs.
    4. Procurement Insights - providing data to identify cost savings opportunities.

    Conversely, we need to consider how the same marketplace benefits suppliers. There are two significant benefits that we deliver to suppliers:

    1. Access to that first decision-maker. ZAGENO offers a perfect additional channel for suppliers to be present in this moment of truth.
    2. Efficiency in order processing. providing suppliers with structured ordering information, reduces processing time and cost by 90% on every order.  


    Science is never 80/20… never, ever

    In science, precision is everything - it’s 100% or it’s a non-starter.

    The most mundane and simple things can make such a profound difference. Take, for example, a manufacturer of lab equipment whose protocol for a lab science tool is off by only a few degrees. Non scientists, see a few degrees as no big deal, the equivalent to a typo. However, for a scientist running experiments - costing $1,000/each - with an imprecise tool that causes ongoing failures can mean project failure and worse, lost funding. For scientists a few degrees is do or die.

    The most mundane and simple things can make such a profound difference.

    Thirty years ago, many of the workflows for which we sell products were cutting edge, unique, crazy and unthinkable. Today, the adoption cycle of new techniques has accelerated tremendously and those old methods are, well, old.

    The lesson is simple - this is an industry based on continual improvement, which is why I believe we will begin seeing laboratories look to innovations in B2C applications to find new ways to automate. Wearable technology (e.g. Google Glass) is an example of technology that did not work as a B2C application. However, those same devices, in a B2B lab setting, could deliver unprecedented automation in, for instance, conducting lab inventories.

    One of the main reasons why businesses based on the marketplace model are so successful is that, with every transaction, customers and suppliers can get smarter and grow their respective experiences.

    It’s the same with ZAGENO. We are experiencing the same flywheel effect and with every rotation, we become more responsive and valuable to our customers and suppliers.

    .  .  .

    David Pumberger

    About the Author

    David Pumberger is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ZAGENO. Prior to ZAGENO he spent nearly a decade in academia beginning as a Research Scientist and Teaching Assistant at ETH Zürich after which he was a partner, trainer and coach at where he developed mathematical and economics courses at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Following this David moved into the managing consulting industry holding leadership roles with both EY Management Consulting in Zürich and PwC Management Consulting, in München. David earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from ETH Zürich and a Masters in Mathematics from the University of Warwick.

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