A room with a view: the six challenges of digital (part 2)

Alex Butler


Continued from “A room with a view: the six challenges of digital (part 1)”

In my last post I discussed the first three of the six challenges of digital as I see them – websites, social media and mobile. This post concludes the list with a peek at the final three:

4. Social CRM

This is a massive subject that I can only skate over in this post. I do genuinely believe that although many companies had not managed to implement highly effective customer relationship management process, either in philosophy or back-end database management, we need to be thinking in a evolutionary way.

‘Social’ CRM has become a buzzword for many, often without any clear understanding of what this means. In a world of two-way dialogue and networked economy across numerous touch points, getting this wrong could be devastating to the pharma business.

In practice CRM has tended to consist of a one way relationship between the company and the customer, based around collection of data and database management. Often this has been constructed around moving customers through a defined pathway towards a final objective.


“…the social web has turned everyone (including health care professionals!) into social customers.”


Although it was never intended to be, it has manifested itself as another organisationally defined value system where we try to *do* something to our customers based on interventions almost wholly centred around the goals of the business – not centred around customer value.

Social CRM will be different in each business and ultimately means different things to different people. If I were to describe it as simply as possible from my perspective I would say the major change is that rather than with traditional CRM where there is no real ‘relationship’, certainly not in a collaborative sense, social CRM will place customers as the focal point.

Essentially this means in practice that instead of marketing or pushing messages at people a business should now ‘talk to’ and collaborate with customers through all touch points to solve common problems.

Some of the changes that this will manifest are moving from assigned departments directly involved in CRM deployment to the entire business taking responsibility. Customers not organisations will define the process and are driven through dynamic channels. This change is ultimately changing the focus from an inside out to an outside in model.

Human beings are by very nature social. This is not new, the social web has turned everyone (including health care professionals!) into social customers. It is essential that pharma rises to the organisational challenge of social customers and information management.

5. Analytics

Analytics has been described as statistical science enabling marketers to listen, measure, evaluate, understand, improve and respond. A high level understanding of analytics should be a core competency for a marketer. In the era of digital marketing it is absolutely essential.


“A high level understanding of analytics should be a core competency for a marketer. In the era of digital marketing it is absolutely essential.”


Central to digital is the ability for post action and real-time analysis. Everything can be recorded and analysed: links that people click on, the media they engage with time spent on an activity such as your website. Mobile has enabled us to record the location of people interacting with our assets. We can in the era of social attempt to measure, categorise and segment real time discussion of our company and brands.

Just because something can be measured, doesn’t mean it should be measured. Defining a modern analytics strategy is key to the pharma business and one many are grappling with at the moment. I have spoken in a previous post about the need to understand action-based measurement in social media, as social media is in my mind an action based economy.

I would suggest that the following principles are a good place to start when we look at analytics on a broader scale:

• Don’t do anything unless you have a clear, measurable objective.

• Outputs can be defined as an amount that is produced over a certain timeframe. Outcomes on the other hand are an end result, something that happens as a consequence. Concentrate on outcomes.

• Business outcomes should be measured. This applies just as rigorously in social media.

• Concentrate on refining communication department analytics. For example although many accept advertising value equivalents are defunct, many comms campaigns are still centrally defined around the broadcast model. How much ‘outcome’ based value can be found in the opportunity to see?

• Reproducibility is still central to high quality analytics.


“Defining a modern analytics strategy is key to the pharma business and one many are grappling with at the moment.”


6. Integration

One way you could describe integration is ‘the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole’. It has always been a challenge to integrate the sometimes disparate functions of the pharma business into a truly aligned and unified whole.

If we compound the problem by further dislocation of digital marketing from marketing and social media from media we are on the road to ruin. Or at least badly designed strategy and tactical execution of digital marketing and communications.

Digital tactics are merely the articulation of the broader corporate and brand strategy. We need to make sure that we create a unified strategic design.

**The views within this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Janssen**

The next part of this series will be published on 17th June

About the author:

Alex Butler is a global thought leader in health care social media for the pharmaceutical industry with the implementation of a number of innovative projects, including the UK’s first pharma twitter account and the world’s first facebook disease community with open comments and post moderation. He is a regular speaker and writer for the pharmaceutical, marketing, communications and technology press. According to John Mack, Alex is the most followed pharmaceutical company employee on twitter in the world and was the inaugural recipient of the Pharmaguy Global Social Media Pioneer award in 2010.

Alex currently works for Janssen as EMEA Marketing Communications Manager, part of the Johnson &amp, Johnson Strategic Marketing team.

Passionate about new marketing and advertising models Alex is an invited member of the Wharton University Future Of Advertising Global Advisory Board, based in Philadelphia. He is also an invited member of the pharmaphorum Editorial Advisory Board.

Connect with Alex on twitter and also on Linkedin.

What in your view is the most significant obstacle to digital?