Miller Tanner Associates is a full-service global meeting and event planning company specializing in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. Miller Tanner offers in-person, virtual and hybrid formats for hosting investigator meetings and other types of events held around the world. This woman-owned business, based in Lebanon, Tennessee, has 38 global employees and 42 global contractors, most of whom work virtually.
The majority of meetings that Miller Tanner arranges involve busy physicians, nurses and other healthcare experts who are conducting clinical trials on behalf of a drug, biotechnology or medical device company or a clinical research organization (CRO). The company or CRO may present new data on the product or may require a new direction on how the study is to be handled. In the past, these investigator meetings were usually held in person, but heavy demands on clinicians’ time and budget restraints underscored the need for more cost-effective solutions such as virtual meetings. “We originally implemented Citrix GoToMeeting to enable participants and speakers to attend in-person meetings from their remote locations,” said Carrie Sharp, chief information officer. She noted that the company chose GoToMeeting based on its positive experience with Citrix XenApp.
To support client requests for real-time, low-cost solutions, Miller Tanner expanded its Media Production Division to a “one-stop shop.” In addition to producing successful face-to-face and virtual meetings, the MTA Media Production team, headed by Chris Scott, repurposes these meetings via Miller Tanner’s in-house-developed On-Demand Trainer (ODT) service. However, when it was time to implement a web event platform for live stream meetings, Scott needed a flexible solution to ensure clients’ positive experiences across the globe. “Recognizing we weren’t a software company, we decided to evaluate third-party offerings instead of expending internal resources,” he said.
While laying a foundation for expanded meeting capabilities and new service offerings, Miller Tanner was dealing with the impact of global growth and a dispersed workforce. Challenges included reaching out to prospects and clients around the world while avoiding excessive travel spend, and supporting the technology needs of employees and contractors who travel extensively and may require immediate assistance at a client’s meeting.
To provide remote assistance to meeting managers and other employees, Sharp implemented Citrix GoToAssist Remote Support, which is used in both attended and unattended scenarios. The service makes it quick and easy to view and control an employee’s computer from afar. Unattended support is particularly valuable because time zone differences can make it difficult to schedule required maintenance or system updates. “With unattended support, we can work on computers after hours so we don’t interrupt employees’ regular business hours and activities,” she said.
Recently, Miller Tanner added the Service Desk module of GoToAssist for enhanced internal issue tracking. Goals included identifying recurring technical problems and providing training to employees experiencing difficulty with a specific area. Sharp is leveraging Service Desk’s automated reporting and looks forward to populating the Knowledge Center with recordings of internal small group trainings conducted with GoToMeeting. Still another potential use case is change management, which will allow the chief information security officer to oversee and manage IT changes from a compliance standpoint.
Compliance requirements also played a role in the adoption of Citrix ShareFile, which provides a secure data transfer solution. The tool allows Miller Tanner to send large files, such as video recordings and event photos, to clients without encountering the size limitations of email for either party. Since implementation, Sharp has significantly increased its ShareFile licenses.
The MTA Media Production Division selected Citrix GoToWebinar and Citrix GoToWebcast for virtual meetings, primarily because of their reliability and low bandwidth demands. “We hold meetings all over the world and Internet connectivity varies widely, so reducing bandwidth requirements is critical to a trouble-free technical experience,” Scott explained. “Important features were the effortless recording capability to support on-demand training for clients who can’t attend a live meeting, and straightforward operation for meeting managers and attendees alike. We needed a cost-effective, reliable approach for our users and were attracted to GoToWebinar and GoToWebcast because they are tested and proven to be simple yet powerful.”
The business development team at Miller Tanner particularly appreciates the HDFaces video conferencing feature included with GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. “It’s a great way to introduce team members to prospective clients, since putting a face with a name is key in our business,” Sharp noted. “For example, HDFaces can be used to familiarize a prospect with the local manager who would be handling an upcoming meeting on their behalf. The personal touch helps to build client trust.
“Each time we adopted a new solution, we conducted an evaluation. We looked at all of the major brands, and in every case, the Citrix solution was more intuitive, simpler and required less training for end users and our team,” she said.
The Citrix solutions support Miller Tanner’s global expansion strategy by making it easy for traveling and remote employees to connect with each other and with clients. “During a recent proposal to a potential client, we did video introductions of the employees who would comprise their meeting planning team. With HDFaces, we were able to make that human connection that helped win this deal,” she said. “Also, GoToMeeting allowed us to avoid the time and costs of flying everyone to the meeting.” Internally, Sharp expects HDFaces to deliver similar benefits for the job interviewing process.
GoToAssist Remote Support plays a central role in ensuring smooth production of virtual and in-person meetings anywhere in the world. “Our onsite meetings are very fast moving and we can’t afford any glitches, such as a problem with printing 600 registration badges. With GoToAssist one-click connectivity, our IT team can remote in very quickly and resolve the technical problem on the spot. Fast issue resolution helps our global staff stay productive and deliver highly professional events for our clients. We couldn’t survive without GoToAssist.”
Another initiative to broaden Miller Tanner’s geographical presence is cloud computing. “We are moving our XenApp environment to Amazon Web Services because it offers the most scalable infrastructure,” Sharp said. “If we want to launch a Citrix environment in Europe or Asia, we can do it easily.” This environment includes Citrix XenServer for server virtualization, Citrix NetScaler for load balancing and Citrix Receiver for securely connecting mobile users.
“We love everything Citrix,” Sharp commented. “The products are versatile, reliable and easy to administer and to learn. Because we are a virtual company – working from anywhere and becoming more mobile all the time – we’re very well aligned with the Citrix vision."
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