Marrying CRM and social media: little activity now, huge potential in the future, says Update CRM

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2011

Survey of life sciences sales organizations finds mobile computing is advancing rapidly

It’s no secret that pharma sales forces have jumped first on smartphones, and now on touch tablets like the iPad, in a big way. But a possible next step—to integrate CRM activities with social media (both mass-market ones like Facebook or LinkedIn, and industry-specific ones like is something of an open question. On the one hand, everything online is migrating to social media; on the other, the pharma industry has significant obstacles, in the form of the FDA Div. of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC), for freely interacting with physicians or consumers via social media.

Update Software AG (Vienna; US HQ is update CRM, Inc., in Princeton, NJ) has just completed a survey of life sciences organizations deploying CRM systems, with the consulting firm ISM Systems (Irvine, CA). Their snapshot of the industry:

  • 45.2% of respondents use a CRM system; 30.1% do not
  • Of CRM users, 43.6% use a third-party system, while 31.5% use an in-house system. Across the board, 24% have deployed the CRM system on a SaaS platform, and 36% as an on-premises platform
  • Among CRM users, 19.8% have an enterprise mobility (smartphone or touch tablet) implementation in place, and 28.1% more plan to have such as system in place within the next two years
  • Among enterprise mobility deployments, the most common operating system is Apple’s iPhone/iPad 41%); Google’s Android system (19.2%); and Windows Mobile (17.9%). Surprisingly, RIM’s Blackberry system is already at the bottom, with 16.7% of deployments.


Update, not very well known in the US but widely deployed in Europe, has staked a key part of its CRM development on integrating social media communications with its CRM system. In the past year, it introduced COSMIC (Comprehensive Observation of Social Media Integrated with CRM) as an add-on module. COSMIC is designed to automatically monitor communications on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, pull out relevant mentions or comments, score them as positive, negative or neutral, and provide analytics to its CRM users. Eventually, marketers or individual reps will be able to see and respond to this commentary with pro-active responses.

In the survey, respondents noted that while 45% are engaged in some type of social media interaction (whether with customers or for internal communications) only 8.1% look to social media for lead generation, and only 1.9% have integrated this lead generation with their CRM system. “There is a clear message that the marriage of CRM and social media can translate into more efficient life sciences sales organizations. Additionally, the feeling among respondents is generally positive about the predicted opportunities to be unleashed by social media in CRM,” the report concludes.

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