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Case Study: Smi Source


ScienceMedia, Inc. provides medical and scientific on-demand eLearning to top pharmaceutical, biotech, life science, healthcare, research and clinical development professionals through an expansive collection of interactive, microlearning video libraries.

Project: SMi Source


Develop a sophisticated, worldwide delivery system of interactive video training materials for ScienceMedia's life science industry users utilizing Gatelets' custom application and web development services.

The Challenge

To build an innovative product that would change the course of ScienceMedia with the launch of a single product line. And, in doing so, provide a clear understanding of the product and its capabilities to ScienceMedia.

We needed to build a first class, first offering, brand-new product, recalled ScienceMedia's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Surles, PhD. Three years prior, Surles made the leap from SMi consultant to CEO and with that change began the effort to lead the company in a new and exciting direction.

The Solution

Not having a clear understanding what the product would do or what it would look like, ScienceMedia appointed Gatelets to not only help define the product, but bring it to fruition.

And so became SMi Source™. The brainchild of ScienceMedia's vast multimedia video library and Gatelets' expertise in web applications, this product was not only a big step for ScienceMedia, but for the entire life science vertical. "It's the first of its kind in its industry. It is software as a service for people to search and find multimedia training material," said Surles of the Source application.

Gatelets developed a web application that completely transformed SMi's delivering mechanisms.

In the past, eLearning videos were confined to CDs and shipped out. Beyond the obvious drawbacks to snail mail, this also limited the amount of content that could be created. Additionally, the interactive elements that truly set video apart from a standard textbook were also left out of the equation.

We've gone from 100 long, non-interactive CDs to about 10,000 multimedia short segments that are tagged and searchable, said Surles. "You search and boom, it plays and you can download."

Unlike their pre-existing ScienceMedia website that mainly functions as a place for clients to order custom development videos, SMi Source serves as an information supercenter for users to access years of content in the making.

Source takes content we've worked on over the past 10 to 15 years and shares the science behind the information that is not brand specific, said Michael Komai, leader of SMi Source Content Development. By re-purposing the universally shared information behind their custom video work, the company now has a place to house a bounty of information for users to further their education. "We now build courses out of our existing content using the Source system, so instead of paying for all new courses, which is more expensive, users are paying to have access to our existing content," Komai added.

Tagged, searchable videos are nothing new in the digital age. But, the ability for users or companies to create their own video lesson plans based on preexisting material is something that sets Source apart. What began as a place to find training videos has since evolved into a feature- rich, robust learning environment. "Source started as search and download; now you can share and even build a lesson yourself within it," remarked Tessa VanDalsem, Manager of Source Group Content. Over the last year, the product has developed to enable users to create their own lessons and even combine modules simply and without any added know-how. "As long as you can search a word, you can create a lesson for someone to take or yourself to review," said VanDalsem.

Once logged in, Source recognizes the user and provides access to information tailored to specific permissions, regardless of where they are and which device they use for browsing. User interaction on a desktop requires a different format than viewing on an iPad; and yet another format is necessary on an Android device.

Integration with company licensing ensures content will be delivered to the proper audience within the confines of the company. Transcending the traditional user and administrator role, Source's licensing model delves deep into the company's hierarchy to understand each employee's position and how it relates to their respective company.

The complex nature of Source's licensing model manages information to be passed through to the correct channel without interfering with the user experience; they simply search and see what they were intended to. "From a user experience it looks like a video, but behind the scenes there's a lot of processing and files that make for a really good user experience...that's where Gatelets popped in," Surles added.

Interactive by design and intuitive by nature, Source harnesses Gatelets' signature sleek design and brainy backend. "The backend required not just servers to host the content, but that it be very dynamic," said Surles. With tens of thousands of videos available on the site, SMi's CEO wanted to ensure they had the potential to reach an equal amount of site visitors, even if the full scope of that audience wasn't there just yet. "Gatelets had to architect the overall system to be responsive and affordable in the beginning. We needed the ability to be dynamic, scale as needed and be cost effective in the early days —but also be able to scale up on a dime as the usage increases."

"There are a lot of other companies out there making and hosting websites and there are a fair amount that also make web applications, but what differentiated Gatelets was they owned the product, so that means they owned the whole product development lifecycle," said Surles.

Fully supported by Gatelets' round-the-clock system monitoring and backup systems, Source's Product Development Lifecycle allows for content to be created and systems to be developed effortlessly and without third party interference, an army of developers or IT staff on SMi's payroll.

The Result

Through their collaboration with Gatelets, ScienceMedia has not only reinvigorated their online image, they changed the course of their company with the launch of a single product line – the innovative solution now known as SMi Source™.

Utilizing Source, ScienceMedia has improved the proficiency of workforces throughout the R&D, clinical, medical affairs, and commercial organizations within many of the world's leading life science companies, delivering technological and instructional innovation in scientific education.

ScienceMedia was awarded The 2016 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards in Technology for leading the way in designing and utilizing technologies that empower organizations to transform the learning experience of its employees. As an award recipient, SMi Source™ was recognized for Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology.

SMi looks forward to a future with a product that holds the potential for unlimited growth on a path now clearly defined. "It's enabled us to totally transform our company from basically a contract development shop or training company for one-off projects to SaaS model and recurring revenue model, so it's totally changed the financial trajectory of the company," Surles stated.

SMi Source has had a direct and lasting impact on how ScienceMedia not only provides users with information, but how they can garner long–term success.

"We didn't have a full understanding of the product, what it would do, or what it would look like," said ScienceMedia's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Surles, PhD.

"I've always been told that our custom side is great, but Source can be a long sustaining repetitive income for the company and keep us afloat during times when clients don't need custom work," Komai stated.

Putting it All Together. With Source up and running, Surles turned his attention to SMi's existing website, "When we started we had a website that had been designed by the company that looked like it was 10 years out of date," he recalled. "It didn't really show what we do for a living, which is cool graphics and great pictures used to tell stories." Excess text and a dark color palette were cleaned up and refined in a modern environment that allowed the company's work to truly shine. "Prior to Gatelets the ScienceMedia site looked very dated, it looked like a site from a company that's not working flows more seamlessly now," remarked Komai.