Since introducing eDetailing on the iPad, the cost for sales representative equipment has risen. The intention may have been to limit the devices to be a phone and a tablet, but instead, we have added a third device to their toolkit, along with additional adaptors, a stylus, cover, keyboard, and the list goes on.
For a Rep, being mobile means carrying a mobile phone and possibly an iPad throughout the day. However, head office systems and processes may still require a laptop for administrative tasks, planning and analysis.
One of our Commercial Excellence goals is optimizing Reps’ time, keeping them productive and effective and equipped to do their job efficiently. Multiple devices and non-user-friendly systems seem to be far removed from that objective.
The Laptop is the New Desktop
Although most Reps find it hard to do their jobs without a laptop, the laptop is seen as too heavy to carry around and too risky to leave in the car So, it becomes an expensive device used from home to process expenses and perform head office tasks. A few major challenges and possible solutions to the one device approach are outlined below:
Challenge: Certain programs are designed and optimized for Windows, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Solution: Some companies have made it easier to for Reps to transition away from laptops by providing iPad friendly applications such as Concur for expenses, MS Office for iPad, WorkDay HR system, Veeva and Mobile Intelligence CRM, along with browser-friendly tools.
However: Although the Office suite is available for iPad, it is still quite limited in functionality, and Reps often find it easier to do more complex tasks on a laptop.
Challenge: The iPad requires a blue tooth printer.
Solution: Allow the Rep to get their own printer and reimburse any peripheral costs such as paper or ink, or better still, let them use their local business printing services.
However: This approach may not be palatable or convenient Reps.
Challenge: The iPad needs an adaptor to connect to clinic TVs and hotel projectors for presentations.
Solution: Provide the field force with a set of adaptors and slide advancer and develop a replacement policy and process as these things get left behind… O F T E N !
Changing the Way We Work
To fully realize the value of iPads, pharmaceutical companies need a robust mobility strategy from the get-go that better integrates these proliferating devices with existing processes and systems… While the iPad has clearly emerged as the device of choice, pharma companies are still asking important questions related to implementation challenges, such as security and infrastructure requirements, actual usage and presentation by sales reps, back-end data, connectivity and systems integration... [Cognizant, 2013]
Back in 2013, Cognizant advised us to develop a mobile device strategy to realise the opportunities and cost savings of iPads. Back then, they also had revealed that many of us had launched iPads without much foresight into the back-end architecture and change management requirements. A lot of those issues linger today.
The iPad had the potential to be disruptive or to simply be an additional device to engage HCPs with more or less visually stimulating content during the sales call. The choices we made then continue to make it challenging today to move to a one device strategy.
One way to trace human history is to follow the evolution of work [Accenture]
Is a One-Device Strategy Realistic?
A One-Device Strategy must balance the needs of the mobile sales representative with the administrative, analytic and communication needs of the whole organization. Optimizing the use of existing devices requires mapping the tasks and daily activities of the sales representative to the most mobile device, applications and processes to ensure the Reps’ productivity is keep at the highest possible level. Pharma moved with surprising speed toward iPads and may be ready to take this final step away from laptops in the very near future. Leadership, a well-thought-out roadmap, end-user training and user journey mapping will be essential to this next transition.
Article Contributor: Melanie Brown, Managing Partner
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The Actando Consulting Team