The digital future: Sanofi’s Marc Schwartz

George Underwood

In this series we speak to pharma leaders to get their views on the biggest trends in digital pharma. This time, Sanofi’s global multichannel marketing lead Marc Schwartz explains why the customer always needs to come first in digital.

There is a certain amount of risk built into deploying new technologies and undertaking the digital journey. How do you ensure that these investments are fully leveraged and don’t end up as technology solutions that do not impact the business? 

Very simple: you don’t build technology first. Business needs and requirements come first. You need to be very careful that technology does not outstrip the business needs; soyou should only build a technology or platform to address a business need.  

Companies should always consider joint business and technology ownership in that regard. The business needs to take equal ownership in the deployment of new technologies, otherwise adoption will always be in question. You should not overbuild and build only what the business can handle. Also, if you have the support of the top management, then business adoption becomes easier. 

Any new technology deployed should address a business need, but most important, technology should be an enabler in the creation of giving customers what they want, when and how they want it. It’s about personalisation and the creation of customer experiences similar to what you see with leading experience companies like Amazon and Google.

We’re now moving toward an era of patient-centric, evidence-driven, and outcome-focused healthcarewhat are the key one or two trends that you see playing out in 2019 and beyond?

This is an era of patient centricity. Companies like Amazon, Apple, and other progressive companies remind us that the customer should always come first. We all need to shift from being company and brand centric to being completely focused on the needs and wants of our customers.  

Everything that we do must be customer centric. In pharma, we still have a long way to go. We have to look at companies like Google, Amazon, Nordstrom, etc., because these are the businesses setting new bar for customer expectations. It is no longer okay to be mediocre at meeting customer needs. We must always exceed customer expectations at every touchpoint. I come from the hospitality industry, and exceeding customer experiences was our single most important guiding principle. In pharma, we should be no different. 

It is not enough to be digital, but you truly have to be digital for a reason, and that is to improve the overall customer experience.  

If you were to think of 2019, from a very short-term perspective, do you see anything changing drastically or do you see it as an ongoing journey? 

It’s a journey, although I’ll call it rapid journey that’s required. The good news is that in the short term, pharma recognises this as a priority, and they’re all trying to figure it out. I think there is consensus that the customer is the focus, and if they don’t act now, they will be playing catch up. Pharma companies are all at different points in this journey continuum. Some have capabilities, organisationsand strategies in place, while others don’t. However, all are realising that this capability building is not a nice to have but a must have.  

Marc will be speaking at the Indegene Digital Summit in Philadelphia in October. 

Note: The views expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation