Data driving metamorphosis of pharma marketing


Ramon Chen explains how the new generation of technology can provide a higher level of insights and recommendations based on the business role and goals of users, but reliable data must be the foundation.

Limited access to physicians, changing stakeholder preferences, and the continued drive towards patient centricity are just a few of the reasons why the life sciences sales and marketing model undergoes constant metamorphosis. Added to this, individual customers want information their way, on their terms. And the technologies exist to do exactly that.

Multichannel marketing strategies, ranging from health care professional (HCP) eDetailing to social media, allow marketing teams to deliver personalised experiences like never before. There's a wealth of tools, including traditional marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM), content management and even compliant email applications, to deliver corporate messaging with a personal touch. There's even a new breed of predictive analytics tools to better understand healthcare provider and patient behaviours, preferences and influence.

So what is the problem?

However, all this requires a reliable data foundation. That's a problem, because the costs and regulatory implications of new channels make the process of combining data across cocooned sources and systems a real challenge. Data that is of questionable accuracy needs to be enriched, transformed and related before the emergence of jaw-dropping visuals.

The way forward lies in the new breed of cloud-based, data-driven applications. They make it easier to blend internal and third-party data, ensure data reliability, and facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing, all while enforcing compliance. These apps go beyond standalone analytics tools and process-driven marketing automation and CRM systems by using a closed loop of relevant insights and recommended actions.

Reliable data

The more data that can be brought together, the better the chances of making precise and informed data-driven decisions.

Marketers are also well aware that the quality of their HCP and healthcare organisation (HCO) data is a key part of this equation. Any delay between procuring information from third-party sources and combining it with data from siloed internal applications gets in the way of forming comprehensive profiles. The traditional method of using the IT staff to load data in batches is inefficient. It's no wonder that many marketers choose to outsource the creation of one-time lists for each project. However, today's data-driven applications come with built-in data-as-a-service (DaaS), enabling data from third-party vendors to be accessed by frontline business users anytime, anywhere and from any device.

Morphing data into relevant insights

Besides reduced HCP access, industry consolidation has given rise to integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and accountable care organisations (ACOs) – organisations with complex hierarchies, committees and diverse stakeholders. Understanding their impact on formulary positioning requires a data-driven approach to quantify their reach and influence before marketing and account-based strategies can be created.

All this is occurring in an environment where patients are becoming increasingly demanding and taking greater control of their own healthcare decisions, going online to seek information on product safety and efficacy. And as patients become more informed, they are another audience to be accounted for in an ever-growing ecosystem of stakeholders, influencers and networks.

This represents a tremendous opportunity, but only if marketers can make sense of all of the data. To develop the reliable foundation, behaviours and preferences, relationships, affiliations, interactions and activities throughout the entire healthcare chain can now be inter-related.

This offers the ability to segment data to identify, rate and rank thought leaders, and tie how plans and products, patient efficacy and other factors can lead to everything from better campaigns and more personalised messaging to more efficient product launches.

Beyond traditional applications

Traditional, process-driven applications such as marketing automation, CRM, Enterprise resource planning (ERP), financials and HR, certainly allow data to be captured and stored, but they don't provide recommended actions based on built-in best practices, ranking algorithms or business rules. Separate predictive analytics tools deliver insights but leave steps open to interpretation.

The new generation of technology provides a higher level of insights and recommendations based on the business role and goals of users. For marketing, it may be wise to segment by specific criteria based on receptivity to similar messages from an earlier campaign; for a sales person it may be a LinkedIn-style recommendation that highlights the best path to connect to a HCP through a shared connection.

They also continuously refine suggestions by measuring results of actions, and correlate them back to recommendations in a continuous closed loop.


"The important element here is that data-driven applications are designed to operate on the same shared pool of information"

The important element here is that data-driven applications are designed to operate on the same shared pool of information. Marketing, sales and other teams can not only update profile information but also rate and provide comments relating to affiliations or relationships, making the data more accurate and valuable.

All sensitive data is also guaranteed to be handled in a compliant manner, freeing teams from the burden of tracking changes and providing all the necessary reporting capabilities to meet regulatory guidelines, while still adhering to customer preferences.

Gradual transformation

Contrary to popular belief, adopting new technologies doesn't always require a 'big bang' approach. Many life sciences teams find data-driven applications easy to deploy, with fast time-to-value.

For example, one top pharma company used a cloud-based data-driven application to provide account teams with visibility into complex affiliations and hierarchies across IDNs, HCOs and HCPs, without heavy IT involvement. They took advantage of DaaS to directly connect to third-party vendors and allowed teams to collaborate and contribute to data in real time.

Soon this approach was adopted by other groups in the company, including marketing, product, and even HR compliance teams. With data easily shared and reusable across groups and applications, time-to-value continues to accelerate as each problem is solved.

Strength and success

There are no shortcuts to having the most reliable data, relevant insights and recommended actions. Skipping the steps necessary to form a reliable data foundation, deciding to outsource the problem, or failing to close the loop by tying back insights and recommendations to actions taken, will lead to poor marketing decisions. Given all that is at stake, with huge budgets and increasing revenue expectations, companies that do not consider data-driven applications as part of their strategy could find themselves at a disadvantage.

About the author:

Ramon Chen is the Chief Marketing Officer at Reltio and a data management expert. Prior to joining Reltio he held positions at Veeva Systems, RainStor, Siperian, GoldenGate Software, MetaTV, Evolve Software, Sterling Software and Synon, Inc.

He holds a BS in Computer Science from Essex University.

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Linda Banks

26 October, 2015