Information overload or knowledge transfer? What the future holds for digital media

Do you blame information overload on digital media? Morten Hjelmsoe, in our digital and social media themed month, explores the concept of communication overload and explains why digital media isn’t to blame.

People are quick to blame information overload on digital media: with an ever-expanding digital landscape comes increasing access to facts, news and noise. We’re hearing this complaint so often, in fact, there’s practically an overload of overload stories – and the sheer amount of messages thrown at us each day can feel like getting caught in quicksand. The truth is, what we’re experiencing isn’t an information overload, but rather a communication overload. And the culprit isn’t the mere presence of digital media, but rather the systematic misuse of it. If we use our digital capabilities properly it can be the answer, not the hindrance, to extracting important content and eliminating clutter. This is particularly impactful when it comes to pharmaceutical marketing and communications.

“People are quick to blame information overload on digital media…”

At its core, customer dissatisfaction is not driven by a constant bombardment with knowledge, but instead by the knowledge’s lack of relevancy. To find the information that fits, consumers have to sort through all the messages flying at them and pull out the pieces that meet their needs like a miner probing for gold. It’s frustrating for consumers – especially when the consumer is a physician seeking the right treatments for his or her patients. The pharmaceutical industry is wedged into a difficult position, as companies can’t possibly read the minds of doctors and decipher what they want and need.

Luckily for us, the new wave of digital media has the ability to flip the situation around and put the consumer or physician in charge. So instead of pushing information at people, hoping something will stick, we can let them pull the information themselves and gain what they are actually looking for. Instead of saying “here is what we want you to know,” it’s all about asking “what do you need to know and how would you like it delivered?”

Through the use of smart digital tools, pharmaceutical representatives can now quickly and seamlessly direct the conversation to go where medical professionals need it to – providing knowledge that’s relevant to the treatment paths needed for their patients. Digital also enables systems to automatically take note of the physician’s interest, so in addition to immediate needs being met, the content provided will grow even more customized over time. It simplifies what would, with paper materials, be a very complicated task.

“If we use our digital capabilities properly it can be the answer, not the hindrance, to extracting important content and eliminating clutter.”

Pharmaceutical representatives become, in essence, a treatment partner, and an engagement that was once considered broken is now reinvented. Digital ultimately helps pharmaceutical representatives transform from product pusher to treatment partner.

By giving physicians the reigns, we incentivize them to come back for more; by fostering a precise knowledge delivery, we create a stronger knowledge transfer. The result is a better business model – a healthy digital ecosystem that benefits both parties.

What it boils down to is that digital media will do what we tell it to, but maybe we’ve been telling it do to the wrong things since it landed in our grasp. Now that we’re finally learning smarter ways to engage with it, we can turn down the volume on irrelevant noise and instead aim for pitch perfect communication for each individual.

The technology is there and ready to go. And now it’s up to us to grasp its benefits by applying digital correctly and contributing to the health of a fractured pharmaceutical engagement in need of healing. We can expect that marketing messages will soon solely operate in this customized channel, creating an experience that is faster, easier and more enjoyable overall.

Digital’s legacy won’t be – as many believe – more communication; what it will ultimately be known for is an efficient and optimized knowledge exchange. We have a significant opportunity to deliver value to our customers, and we can look forward to our next “overload” to be of success stories – not communication.


About the author:

Morten Hjelmsoe is the founder and CEO of Agnitio, the global leader in closed loop marketing, and an expert and visionary within technology-enabled pull communication. Morten also serves as a regular speaker on the potential of digital technology, and advises senior executives on how to apply responsive communication to their outreach.

Closing thought: Are we too quick to blame information overload on digital media?