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A growing demand for digitalization

BASF Digitalization Andreas Dr. Andreas Hildesheim, Senior Global Product & Marketing Manager at BASF Pharma Solutions

As a means of ensuring cost efficiency, elevating customer experiences, and keeping up with industry changes following the pandemic, digitalization has never been more important.

For Dr. Andreas Hildesheim, Senior Global Product & Marketing Manager at BASF Pharma Solutions, it comes down to two key questions: Why is digitalization important for our customers and why is it important for BASF as a supplier to the pharma industry?

“As a supplier, it’s about efficiency and getting the necessary information such as product and compliance information or delivery status to our customers without them having to manually reach out,” Hildesheim says. “From a customer’s point of view, they are consumers in their private lives, so their expectations are rising. They want this information at their fingertips and that’s why these digital tools are so important.”

Marcus Pospiech, Director of Digitalization & Business Processes at BASF Nutrition & Health says digitalization is also important in reducing errors. “Pharma is a very regulated and sensitive industry,” he says. “The more manual errors, the more severe the impact because misunderstanding or forgetting a regulation can impact a product and people’s lives. Digitalization comes with a higher quality that is less prone to error. The more information exchanged digitally, the higher the accuracy and validity.”

BASF Digitalization Marcus Marcus Pospiech, Director of Digitalization & Business Processes at BASF Nutrition & Health

An integral part of understanding what exactly customers want, how their needs are changing, and what their pain points are requires keeping track of industry changes, feedback, and taking the time to listen.

BASF does this by collaborating closely with customer-facing specialists in technical services and sales departments, running internal and external validation sessions to make sure the market has an appetite for new ideas, and by embedding tools into customer touchpoints asking about their experiences.

“We established an iterative process,” says Hildesheim. “It’s not like we sit here, think about the next best thing to bring to market, develop it, and throw it over the fence. It’s this idea that we’re on a journey and we’re including internal stakeholders and customers to get their feedback and improve digital services so we have a high acceptance when we bring it to market.”

Pospiech agrees, describing the process of co-creation as a “win-win.” He adds that looking beyond pharma and further afield is another key strategy. “We look at general trends and transfer that to how we could solve problems in the pharma industry.”

Making data actionable

In response to all of this, BASF has innovated several tools which, together, are referred to as Virtual Pharma Assistants:

ZoomLab, developed by formulators for formulators, digitizes, simplifies, and accelerates drug product development.

RegXcellence® has been designed to streamline quality and regulatory compliance by helping users find the information they need with a document library, filing assistance, and global or country-specific compliance support.

MyProductWorld means users can browse, find, and directly order samples and commercial volumes of pharma grade excipients and API solutions faster and conveniently.

BASF has also collaborated with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to develop a common standard guide on how suppliers and customers throughout the industry can best exchange electronic connections for quality and regulatory content. StaQRD – Standard for Quality and Regulatory Documentation – simplifies digital information exchange industry-wide.

While those are customer-facing solutions, behind the scenes, BASF is constantly innovating. One way is in helping customers reach their sustainability goals.

“It’s a common question,” says Pospiech. “How the industry solves the upcoming race to net zero. We started early on that track, building the capability internally so every product we’re selling has the exact product carbon footprint measured with data and calculation on scope 1 and 2 emissions. We’re working on features and innovations that make this accessible for customers.”

Hildesheim explains that “more and more customers have their own sustainability goals they need to achieve because their markets demand answers to the climate crisis. They need transparency on product sustainability data from their suppliers. For some, it’s already part of their buying decision.”

Catering for the current market

As any market evolves, so do its challenges. Alongside listening to customers, BASF’s approach to digitalization is holistic so it can better prepare for how the market is adapting.

Take privacy as an example. “We have high standards when it comes to privacy,” says Pospiech. “We’re really transparent with what data we store, how we use it, and how we share it.”

With concerns around IP sensitivity a specific concern within pharma, BASF innovated by offering a tailor-made solution as part of its ZoomLab™ platform.

“There were customers reaching out looking for a private environment within ZoomLab™ where all their formulators would have the possibility to share and collaborate on projects that are only visible to this specific group,” says Hildesheim. “We took that feedback very seriously and recently launched a Corporate Premium Account for those customers.”

Another key talking point is generative AI and how BASF can effectively use its capabilities. “This is something we prepare solutions for,” says Pospiech. “In RegXcellence®, we already have a chatbot with AI capabilities, and we’re working to finetune them and bring them to the next level to have a GPT-based experience embedded in all our virtual assistants to make it even more accessible.”

For more on how our digitalization products and services can help you, reach out to BASF’s team of experts.

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