Unite pharma’s marketing and information capabilities for greater success

The pharma industry is working hard to keep pace with a changing health consumer, to harness advances in digital technology, and adapt to a health outcome-orientated environment. Though an industry that is often a conservative adopter of new technology, its chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) need to work together to reap the benefits of using digital strategies.

The digital age has ushered the need for pharma companies to rearrange the way they do business to meet the needs of health-aware consumers. Digital social platforms, analytics and novel databases were just emerging concepts a few years ago, but now they play a significant role in selling and marketing products.

Functional silos no longer work, and CMOs and CIOs need to collaborate further. CMOs and CIOs from many of the largest pharma companies ($5 billion+) were surveyed to understand how digital strategies and capabilities were impacting their businesses, and what challenges they face.

In other industries, it is no longer about whether CMOs and CIOs should coordinate, but rather how. Yet the debate rages on in the pharma industry and executives must identify where the gap may be largest and agree how to close it.

Agreement lacking

There has been a greater recognition of the importance of IT in marketing and vice versa. But pharma’s CMOs and CIOs cannot agree on how to collaborate, which may be hurting the industry’s ability to take advantage of digital potential. There are discrepancies between how the two groups of executives view areas of investment, including analytics, big data, and customer engagement.

“Attitudes must change for pharma companies to succeed during this time of rapid digital and technological transformation”

Marketing and IT are challenged by rapidly shifting digital demands. However, attitudes must change for pharma companies to succeed during this time of rapid digital and technological transformation.

Key survey findings

• Nine out of 10 pharma CIOs (91 per cent) vs 58 per cent of CMOs agree that they need marketing/IT alignment.

o But two-thirds of pharma CMOs (67 per cent) do not view IT as a strategic partner.

• Priorities for investment:

o Analytics: CIOs see analytics as the top driver of integration (52 per cent), but CMOs rank it near the bottom (13 per cent). Subsequently, 43 per cent of CIOs want to invest in multichannel analytics, compared to only 13 per cent of CMOs.

o Technology investment: a majority of CMOs (54 per cent) want to focus on the customer experience, compared with just 14 per cent of CIOs.

o Big Data: most CIOs (62 per cent) see managing big data as a key priority, but less than half of CMOs do (42 per cent).

Yet, when it comes to aligning the functions:

o Nearly four out of 10 CMOs (38 per cent) would support creating an IT lead within marketing, and a marketing lead within IT – a solution which only 19 per cent of CIOs favour.

Prime opportunity

There is surely a need to close this gap. Technology, data, analytics and design all help create the entire customer experience, which, in turn, leads to better market differentiation, business growth and profitability.

However, while more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of CIOs think more, or much more, collaboration is needed, less than half of CMOs (44 per cent) think so. There is also a lack of agreement on how to align functions. Nearly four out of 10 CIOs (38 per cent) would favour co-locating IT and marketing staff, but only 13 per cent of CMOs prefer this option.

CMOs report a strong desire for training in electronic medical record technology and single IT/marketing leadership, with a 36 per cent and 10 per cent difference, respectively, with CIOs. Equipping a mobile-enabled sales force was cited as a priority by 43 per cent of CIOs, compared to just 17 per cent of CMOs.

Closing the gap

There are four imperatives that CMOs and CIOs can use to align more tightly. By working together, they will be better positioned to make the most of digital opportunities.

1. A vision and common objectives

Establish a vision and common objectives for IT and marketing which leverage the power of digital. The majority of senior marketers continue to think of digital as a channel, not a business enabler. This limited vision is hindering CMO influence in the C-suite and may be causing the increasing gaps in collaboration.

Instead, they have an opportunity to come together and steward new products and services that emanate from a digital business model and mindset. For instance, a CIO might help develop marketing strategy and assist in choosing external partners to help execute, measure and analyse the marketing plans.

2. Unify around the customer

With a shared marketing IT vision, companies will be able to achieve a seamless customer experience. To be fully customer centric, they must put the customer at the top of the organisational pyramid, making all functions focus on the customer first and eliminate any silos. An example of this is the use of in-store GPS technologies to give customers ‘hands free’ promotions and payment options on their smartphones.

3. Integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company

The customer experience starts at any point in their purchasing experience and is continuous. Company employees should share new customer acquisition incentives and key performance indicators across traditional departmental boundaries. Interdisciplinary teams from marketing, sales, customer service and IT should be evaluated together on the whole customer experience.

4. Embrace analytics and big data

Companies must build an insight-driven approach to marketing that embraces analytics and big data. It is no longer about marketing or IT functions operating in isolation. It’s about integrating technology, data and marketing services, running the platform in the cloud, responding quickly to new customer requirements and adding new services as required. CMOs must collaborate with IT and direct funds to take advantage of the continually evolving digital ecosystem.

In summary, to take advantage of CIO-CMO collaboration in efforts to meet new customer expectations, understand where the separation may be the greatest and agree on the steps needed to close the gaps. Customers want more interaction with pharma companies, but the industry won’t be able to deliver better service and engagement unless it minds the gap.

Read more in this report based on the survey: The Rising Opportunity for CMO and CIO Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry

About the author:

David Logue is a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice, based in London. He is the commercial services lead for Europe, responsible for driving client offerings and developing thought capital to help clients develop relevant solutions. David has expertise in defining commercial strategies and implementing technologies such as CRM, brand digital marketing strategies for global pharma clients, implementing virtual collaboration business transformation programmes for pharma sales and marketing functions, social media strategy creation and delivery and commercial solution architecture development.

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