How B. Braun scores internationally with a PIM: A conversation with Christian Broel

At B. Braun SE, a sophisticated product information management system is used for thousands of product information items, global playout and different media formats. Christian Broel, who has been working in global marketing & sales service at B. Braun SE for more than 30 years and is also responsible for the PIM system there, explains how these challenges can be overcome.

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Mr. Broel, what exactly is your job at B. Braun SE?

Ultimately, I orchestrate all the product data or product information that leaves B.Braun in some way. For example, the master data that our customers need in their own IT systems, like for electronic orders. In addition, of course, there are websites, online stores and many other touchpoints and channels. At the end of the day, all the data used there must be consistent and always up to date. Additionally, there is a local as well as a global component. In short it involves many products, many outputs and usage channels and all this with global or locally often very different specifications. Particularly in the case of medical or pharmaceutical products, a very comprehensive set of regulations comes into play here, if only under the motto "duty of care".

Here, of course, a central PIM that provides information via connected applications has enormous advantages.

Does this approach also apply to the analog world, i.e. print?

Of course. Here, too, we work with names or product titles, short descriptions, texts and even images. Here we work together with the priint Group and use the priint:suite, with which we can access the central PIM data in order to publish in print. Even though I am a great friend of digital for reasons of sustainability, there are local regulations, specifications from authorities and, of course, users who want our information in print. Of course, we want to and have to accommodate this.

However, we also want to make full use of the digital possibilities here. In the past, for example, we printed catalogs in longer runs, which were then stored in the warehouse. If there were errors in the printed data, the entire workflow had to be restarted and reprinted. At the same time, we had a catalog that had to serve many target groups. Now we want to establish a database publishing process with print on demand, which allows us much more flexibility.

And this also allows for personalized print products?

That is the goal. Just think, if you have a very broad range of products, like B. Braun, but on the customer side you have highly specialized medical professionals who are naturally only interested in a section of the entire product portfolio. In this scenario, the precise tailoring of information, both digital and printed, plays a very important role.

In a limited language area, that is already a major task. But B. Braun is active internationally. How do you deal with that?

Of course, we have to keep that in front of us. In fact, we also do this on a very local level- so not just English, German and a few romanic languages. Here, we have to differentiate even more deeply in the German language alone, just think of Austrian or Swiss German. We map that. And also another aspect, namely images. In the case of pharmaceuticals, the authorities in the individual countries, including in Europe, prescribe what a drug label must look like. This extends to the color of the label and varies from country to country. We have developed a sophisticated system for transferring the data to our publishing system via interfaces so that we can then localize this information in a highly automated manner. The aim is to always be able to provide valid local, country-specific data.

A brief word about output formats, both print and digital: what is the acceptance of digital information like here? Or is print still the leading medium?

This actually varies greatly from country to country and from customer group to customer group. That's why we have installed all these processes, so that we can meet every output format requirement. There are countries in which digital is mandatory for such information, especially on the part of the authorities. And there are also haptic high-end products that certainly make sense in marketing. Roughly speaking, I would currently say: 50% digital, 50% print. But as I said, that depends on very specific factors and specifications.

Personally, I think it would be good if we were to replace the format dependency in the workflows, i.e. always DIN A 4 and PDF, because it is optimal for printing. Here, I would like to see neutral data storage and product-specific output that also takes into account end devices such as tablets, smartphones, and so on. But I am sure that we will reach this point.

Thank you, Christian Broel

Christian Broel has worked for B. Braun for more than 30 years and is responsible for Product Information Management for the B. Braun Group within the Global Marketing & Sales Service department. As a PIM evangelist, he has been advocating an omnichannel product communication strategy for years. He advises and supports global and local teams on efficient, sustainable and consistent product communication across all channels and touchpoints, taking into account regulatory and legal requirements.