Extract from an interview with an experienced Global Pharma Company Commercial Excellence Leader [anonymous contributor].
- How is Commercial Excellence [ComEx] driving transformation?
- Pipelines are slower and profits and revenues down for most Pharma companies at the moment. Price pressures and the evolution of healthcare systems means that the ComEx function is expected to help build best in class capabilities and achieve operational excellence simultaneously. Pharma is now in an outcomes-driven marketplace and more players are getting involved, none more important than the patients themselves.
Commercial excellence is not something to do periodically, but rather a continuous evolution of the business to remain relevant and competitive. Helping the business get to know the patient and the patient journey is one way ComEx can add value. Continuously monitoring and analysing the marketplace, digital channels, customer and patient behaviours will ensure data-driven decisions are being made.
- Where is Pharma’s digital evolution up to?
- Beyond the implementation of field force enablers such as CRMs and analytics visualisations, the need for digital competency is often under-addressed. It seems all interrelated functions from marketing, SFE, Analytics, Training, HR, Finance and Operations, are providing apps and websites, cloud-based solutions etc. to the field force in particular.
However, are we up-skilling our field force to navigate and maximise these technologies?
Has it improved productivity?
Have we considered the ‘user experience’ of our internal customers?
Are these things helping or hindering the achievement of commercial excellence?
eDetailing and Closed Loop Marketing was the buzz about 5-7 years ago. Social media channels and how to communicate with customers and patients followed. New generation marketers come with a lot of knowledge and skills already in multichannel marketing, however, many of our incumbents are still not digitally literate. I see that often digital channels are being used as a company mandate or as a competitive necessity versus a strategy driven by the overall customer experience and channel preference map.
In the area of capability development, the use of micro-learning apps, virtual reality, simulations and gamification, along with eLearning offerings, all make up components of the learning tool kit. ComEx can have quite a lot of influence on the role of digital and the evolution of up-skilling. The digitisation of Pharma is across the whole business – from the use of automation, machine learning, AI, and robots.
- There is a big buzz around Patient Centricity. What changes are you seeing?
I think whether a Pharma company believe in it or not, there is no choice except to move toward patient centricity. The fact that we promote this new ‘patient centricity’ is strange to the customers. Are we saying we weren't patient-centric before? The marketplace has changed and what it expects from Pharma has driven this evolution from product to patient. Being customer -centric is a critical success factor for any business. Getting to understand the patient journey beyond the pill is a basic requirement of doing business and achieving patient outcomes. We now recognise that so many other factors around medicine affect the patient outcomes including speed and cost of achieving the outcomes. Then, if we really are patient-centric, we will be interested in what happens in a patient's life over time when the condition is chronic. The link between being patient-centric and profitable remains a concept that many of us are still grappling with, and yet this customer-centric way of working is business as usual for other industries. If we do not remain profitable and continue to put money back into R&D, we cannot deliver patient outcomes. Achieving patient outcomes is our north star and our reason for being.
Getting the organisation to see, feel and live the patient experience day, in and day out is the challenge. It takes time. It is a long-game strategy and therefore it takes the commitment of the leadership team. ComEx can help by driving change in the way the commercial operations works and helping teams find capacity, re-investing energy and resources in different initiatives, than continuing down the old path.
Article Contributor: Melanie Brown, Managing Partner
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