Commercial IT moves to the cloud

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2017

Five commercial trends to watch in 2017

We are in the golden age

of life sciences. If 2016 is any indication, the industry will continue to push new frontiers in scientific breakthroughs. Profound innovations are occurring in the business/commercial face of the industry as well, especially in digital technologies. Here are five key trends:


Commercial models will evolve and modernize, driven by the cloud.

Many aspects of the commercial business model are still “pre-internet” and ready for disruption. It’s like taxi cabs before Uber, hotels before Airbnb, or retail before Amazon. Pre-internet ways of working force many life sciences companies to re-invent the wheel in multiple areas—every brand across the company develops its own website, digital engagement strategies vary from country to country, and key opinion leaders (KOLs) are identified from scratch for each new launch.

Life sciences will continue to shift to cloud-based unified solutions to address these inefficiencies, enable end-to-end processes, and streamline commercial operations. Commercial teams will move to a single platform to manage content and digital engagement to deliver a more coordinated, valuable customer experience across many touch points.

2. Industry collaboration will make things easier for shared customers.

The rise of specialty medicine is creating a greater need for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to have more timely and tailored information; they have greater expectations to engage through the digital channels they prefer. However, there is too much friction that makes information access difficult. For example, a single pharma company may have 10–15 digital channels with different ways of recognizing and registering the HCP. Multiply that by the number of companies an HCP works with and you have inefficiency and frustration for the customer. The result is that they look elsewhere for information.

Industry collaboration will make it easier for healthcare professionals to connect with life sciences companies. The industry will come together on the commercial side to define and adopt industry-standard processes for their shared customers to get the right information faster, leading to better outcomes for patients.

3. A new online channel will open up between pharma and HCPs.

As consumers, making video calls is simple. In business, holding online meetings in other industries is easy and commonplace. In life sciences, however, the ability to engage online has been out of reach due to regulations and technology limitations. Facilitating a video call with an HCP required awkward workarounds and multiple presentation technologies to share approved content, ultimately leading to a poor experience for the field rep and the customer.

Online meetings will open up as an important digital channel between life sciences companies and healthcare professionals. Digital engagement will be easier and compliant with integrated applications built to meet the industry’s unique requirements and regulations. The use of this digital channel will become ubiquitous and help life science companies increase reach to more HCPs and meet customers’ growing expectations for interactions to be online.

4. Medical and commercial teams will improve customer coordination.

The healthcare landscape is rapidly changing as the rise of specialty drugs has expanded the stakeholder network and increased their need for customized scientific information. Medical affairs teams are playing an increasingly important role in engaging with this community, but are challenged with addressing the growing demands of this increasingly complex ecosystem of healthcare decisionmakers.

Life sciences companies will prioritize improved collaboration between medical and commercial teams, with the goal of developing a deeper, more accurate understanding of their relationships with healthcare decisionmakers. By continuing to make cloud technology investments that remove siloes so medical affairs and commercial teams can work together in a responsible way, medical affairs will be able to quickly identify key stakeholders and have a more holistic view of their interactions with commercial teams, so they can deliver a more coordinated and tailored customer experience.


Data driven actions will come of age.

The growing volume of data has created tremendous opportunity for life sciences, but delivering contextual insights and making it easy for sales teams to take action is challenging. Today, the spectrum of a sales rep’s insight capabilities ranges from having to go to multiple places to get the information to having no quality insights to use at all. The workflow isn’t optimized, hindering the commercial team’s ability to turn valuable insight into a competitive advantage.

Advancements in cloud technology will make it easier for life sciences companies to deliver relevant insights, when and where commercial teams need it, so they can take immediate action. With these new data driven insights at their fingertips, they can make better decisions about what they should be doing next with each customer. The ability to turn vast amounts of data into digestible and actionable insight about the life sciences customer will improve sales and marketing strategies.


Paul Shawah is VP, Commercial Cloud, at Veeva Systems, responsible for commercial product strategy. His 20-year background in life sciences software includes stints at SAP, Proscape and Siebel. He holds an engineering degree from Bucknell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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