Sales effectiveness and intelligent content strategies

In this interview for our sales effectiveness focus month, Hannah Blake speaks with Gabor Fari from the Health & Life Sciences team at Microsoft Corporation to discuss content management challenges and the rise of intelligent content.

Intelligent content is a hot topic today, especially within the pharma and healthcare industries. The easier it is to effectively manage, deliver and customise content, the faster the messages reach the right audience, which in turn reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

“Intelligent content is a hot topic…”

One person who knows a lot about this area is Gabor Fari, who was a founding team member of the Microsoft Corporation’s Health & Life Sciences Industry Unit. Today, he is the Unit’s Director of Business Development and Strategy. In this interview, Gabor shares his thoughts on sales effectiveness and intelligent content strategies with pharmaphorum’s Hannah Blake.

Interview summary

HB: Hello Gabor, thank you so much for taking part in this interview for pharmaphorum’s sales effectiveness month. To start, please can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role at Microsoft?

GF: I have been working in the Life Sciences industry throughout my career and I have been with Microsoft for almost 8 years now. My current role is Director of Business Development and Strategy in the Life Sciences team. We are part of the Health & Life Sciences organization, along with the Payer & Provider teams. The key role for our team is to be the liaison between our customers, sales teams and our partner community to help deliver next-generation solutions on the Microsoft platform. We frequently get deeply involved in solution development, including helping our partners with product planning and management.

HB: What challenges do you see within the Life Sciences industry with regards to content management?

GF: Given that the Life Sciences industry is heavily regulated, compliance is a key concern. The lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry is to develop new products and to get them approved via Regulatory Authorities. However, the source of most of the content that gets submitted to Regulatory authorities is structured, whereas most of the information that gets into Submission documents is turned into Unstructured Information. Someone once said that the industry spends 12 years to turn structured data into unstructured content. If we could find a way to do a better job with this, it would already be a major step forward.

“Given that the Life Sciences industry is heavily regulated, compliance is a key concern.”

HB: And how about sales effectiveness?

GF: The bottom line is that in the age of declining budgets and shrinking sales forces, the new norm is continuously doing less with more. It is very likely that the ability for a sales representative to have face time with the physician will keep on shrinking, and already today we are talking about a couple of minutes at best. There are some who say that large sales forces will be gradually transformed into independent agents, such as in the case of insurance companies. There is no doubt that social media and newer forms of communication will play an increasing role in how pharmaceutical companies can reach prescribers to be able to deliver their message, while adding value in return for the face time spent. So I view that the traditional notion of sales effectiveness will be transformed into sales enablement, which is a more holistic view on the forms of interaction. This is part of what we are working on today in our team.

HB: You are known as the architect and driving force behind the Intelligent Content Framework – what is Intelligent Content?

GF: By definition, Intelligent Content is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable (quoting Ann Rockley, one of the gurus of Intelligent Content). I sometimes like to simplify it as ‘Intelligent Content is not Dumb Content’, even though we still live in the era of Dumb Content, as far as the Life Sciences industry is concerned.

HB: How will this software benefit the pharmaceutical industry?

GF: There are a myriad of benefits that would require a whole new chapter. The most important is that Intelligent Content allows us to finally unite content and context, and focus on Information Management. Intelligent content allows authors to focus on content, without having to worry about formatting, and it allows them to work efficiently with today’s digital authoring tools rather than being constrained by internal workflows that trace their origins back to the world of paper.

HB: Can you give us an example of a pharma company using Intelligent Content successfully?

GF: A great example that comes to mind would be Sanofi, who are one of the early adopters of the Intelligent Content Framework. For just one application, related to patient narratives, which summarize patient results in a clinical study, they saved 22,000 hours of work on 4,000 documents. The cost savings to the company for this application alone has already reached US$2 million.

“Intelligent Content is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable…”

HB: What impact is the rapid evolution of technology and innovation having on healthcare in your opinion?

GF: The biggest challenge in healthcare is that essentially the system is out of money. Given the irreversible demographic trends of an aging population and huge deficits, we have reached the point where we just cannot sustain this level of spending, lack of accountability and low results. I have no doubt that technology will play a major role in many ways, such as helping with diagnosis and treatment, health maintenance, coordination of care. We are witnessing a revolution in mobile technology and I believe the ‘appification’ phenomenon backed with Social and Cloud Services will also transform the way patients can interact with care givers, and with each other. There is simply no alternative than for patients to play a much more active role in their own treatment, via a new approach that we call patient engagement.

HB: Thank you for your time Gabor, it’s much appreciated.


About the author:

Gabor Fari is the Director of Business Development and Strategy in the Health & Life Sciences Industry Unit at Microsoft.

Gabor has been a founding team member of the Health & Life Sciences Industry Unit at Microsoft, starting in 2006. He has been involved with the biopharmaceutical industry throughout his professional career. Gabor plays a key role in defining and executing Microsoft’s Life Sciences solutions and business strategy. His main areas of focus are Enterprise Content Management, Regulated Document Management, Clinical Trials, Cloud Compliance and Sales Enablement. Gabor is the driving force behind the Intelligent Content Framework, with the mission to introduce an entirely new way of managing Enterprise Content in Regulated Industries, based on the latest XML technologies and standards. He also serves as product and technology advisor to several key Microsoft Life Sciences partners. Gabor is the Microsoft representative on several DIA SIAC groups and the OASIS DITA Pharmaceutical Content Subcommittee.

Gabor holds a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, specializing in Bioprocess Engineering, from the Budapest Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Rutgers University.

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