The world is going through a digital revolution as new technologies are adopted at a breakneck pace. The digital revolution creates an imperative for companies: they must transformation through technology, or they’ll face destruction at the hands of competitors that do.[1]
Digital Transformation refers to the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises. Capgemini Consulting’s research in collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business has revealed that compared to other sectors, the pharmaceutical industry lags significantly on the “Transformation Management” dimension of Digital Transformation. Transformation Management refers to the level of investment in leadership skills needed to create digital transformation[2].
What this means is that when pharma makes investments in digital technology, they are usually done in an ad hoc manner at the brand or divisional level, without a coordinated or centralized strategy. As a result, these firms fail to reap the full benefits of the tools and solutions they adopt.
This failure comes at an inopportune time, because the pharmaceutical industry is at cross-roads, confronted with a frightening array of existential challenges to its commercial model:

  • Declining Field Force effectiveness and ROI due to reduced access and the rise of organized healthcare delivery systems
  • Reduced budgets as a result of looming patent cliffs and the spiraling costs of drug development
  • Consumerization of healthcare driven by proliferating channels and technologies, accompanied by a rapid evolution of customer preferences and behaviors

In recent years, many pharma marketers have rushed to embrace Multichannel Closed Loop Marketing (MCLM) as a potential solution. MCLM brings the promise of delivering customers personalized and highly relevant content based on their unique needs and behaviors, across multiple channels and at a rapid pace.
Further driving the push to MCLM is the rise of cloud-based technologies that has changed the way firms buy, manage and maintain software – not to mention redefining the traditional relationship between business and IT. Highly specialized CRM, CLM, Campaign Management and Sales Force Effectiveness solutions can all be accessed with a cloud-based delivery system. With this new model, there are no servers to buy and maintain, software to install or patches to download… Making it possible for pharma marketers to procure and manage these incredibly sophisticated solutions with little or no involvement from IT.
Across the industry, however, this unprecedented opportunity for transformation is by and large being squandered. Indeed, the vast preponderance of firms has responded to such a broad array of challenges by outfitting the sales reps with iPads containing repackaged and stale content, with infrequent updates and minimal (if any) interactivity. Besides being one-dimensional in nature and focusing exclusively on the sales channel, these ‘tablet detailing’ programs have generally failed to move the needle in terms of improving customer experience for three main reasons:

  • Lack of strategic vision for program or quantifiable measures of success
  • Poor collaboration between IT , Marketing, Analytics and/or Sales
  • Severe underestimation of change management required for success

Achieving true MCLM requires rebuilding systems and processes to engage with customers across multiple channels, providing highly personalized content based on user behaviors and profiles. Internal siloes need to be busted, content deployment must be accelerated by a factor of five or more, and a mentality of listening to the customer needs to be adopted across the entire organization.
Standing in the way are integration challenges, a lack of full customer understanding, siloed channels and sheer inertia. To compound the situation, true MCLM is a transformative initiative that requires transitioning to a fundamentally different business model for a commercial pharma organization – a fact overlooked by most firms.
True transformation is not only possible, but more than worth the investment. A mature and centralized MCLM model can drive deeper customer impact through greater predictive decision making capabilities and enhanced campaign management across channels and the entire brand portfolio, improving campaign response rates, reducing marketing spend and enhancing overall customer experience.

[1] Embracing Digital Technology: A New Strategic Imperative, by Michael Fitzgerald, Nina Kruschwitz, Didier Bonnet and Michael Welch2013
[2] Big Idea: Digital Transformation, Research Highlight, by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee, November 20, 2012