The Context Renaissance in Pharma

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2014

Sponsored content from Cegedim Relationship Management

Pharma is no longer allowed to be tone-deaf. Public scrutiny, regulatory changes, and increasing real time access to stakeholder sentiments create the expectation to be timely and relevant. One industry reaction to be timely, relevant, and commercially empathetic is a paradigm dubbed multi-channel marketing (MCM).

However MCM does not engage doctors. At best MCM messages, while digitally precise, are tone deaf.

Hence, MCM cannot be a destination for pharmaceuticals; it is a rest stop. The increasing amount of data we know about healthcare providers (HCP) will create an auditable expectation for pharmaceuticals to “get HCPs” right. Netflix suggests what we watch, Uber knows our taxi preferences, Amazon guesses our purchases, and Google Glass presents live traffic; inevitably HCPs will expect pharmaceuticals to “just know” them.

MCM falls short of really “knowing” an HCP.

The differentiator between Netflix, Uber, Amazon, Google and the pharmaceuticals industry is a small thing called context. Knowing the context of a person, interaction, or message can improve how influence is exchanged. Brands can use context to engage instead of simply marketing. Context is not simple or easy, but powerful.

The importance of context to pharmaceuticals is not new; however, how context is identified, understood, and leveraged has shifted from depending on humans (sales representatives) to depending on information systems. This shift creates a problem. Information systems do not get context. As pharmaceuticals move further away from human-to-human interaction, increasing reliance on information systems to influence HCPs, the battle for context is lost before it has started.

We need a context renaissance.

To constructively discuss context, let us examine the difference between marketing and engagement.

What is a context renaissance?

At the core, the science of getting HCP context is about the buying journey more than it is about the selling journey. While MCM focuses on optimizing how we influence HCPs on channels through selling, MCM + context focuses on how HCPs view themselves, and how they want to be influenced while buying, ergo engagement.

There is a pronounced inside-out, versus outside-in shift in thinking. Netflix for example is completely inside-out. Netflix does not suggest a movie based on external factors such as release dates, nor does it suggest only the best rated or most viewed. Netflix knows my internal viewer context and based on the time of the day, my location, my device, my connection, and my viewing habits, Netflix suggests the best movie for me.

Can the pharmaceutical CLM have the context sophistication to be the Netflix of brand presentations for HCPs?

This is a silly question, but a powerful idea.

Context is very personal, and it is behind a set of preferences that are not exposed to marketing channels. Context is nearly impossible for information systems to harness short of some miracle in contextual technology. We need to get into the circle of context, without invading privacy or overstepping boundaries.

To do this requires a delicate mix of psychology, information and analytics. Consider some examples.

Getting the psychology right.

  • Is Dr. Smith an introvert or an extrovert?
  • Is the persona of Dr. Singh that of a builder or an architect?
  • Does Dr. Sung lead with her head or her heart?

Getting information right.

  • Is Dr. Johnson discussing your brand as an alternative even when prescribing your competitor?
  • Is Dr. Jain growing his business with a new office in the town over?
  • Is Dr. Jerry reading your clinical trials, and to whom did she forward them?

Getting the analytics right.

  • What is the probability that Dr. Adams will change her perception of your brand relative to her peers?
  • Which of your sales representatives is better to influence a doctor who is an introvert?
  • Does a specific brand presentation provide more value to male doctors versus females, or young doctors versus older ones?

We currently cannot answer most of these questions easily, but the answers are not unreachable. More importantly, while the answer to a single question is not earth shattering, having the answer to all nine of these can fundamentally change the way we market to doctors digitally. It can set a brand apart.

It can help us stop marketing digitally, and start engaging digitally.

In the gene pool of engagement, context is the single differentiator.

Almost a decade ago, the thought leadership of a Customer Interaction Hub (CIH) was introduced to the marketplace. The CIH promised to focus on interactions, extending CRM via MCM, and enabling brands to get the channels, direction of information, and speed of influence right. While novel, the CIH fell short by ignoring context.

A decade is a long time in technology. As a result the value of the CIH has expired. During the decade the construct of context became digitally reachable with new information sources, and hence the arrival of the next generation of marketing dubbed engagement. With it comes the birth of something new, the Customer Engagement Hub (CEH). The Customer Engagement Hub can be thought of as all that made CIH great plus context.

Cegedim is delivering a Customer Engagement Hub designed specifically for Life Sciences. The Cegedim CEH will enable pharmaceuticals to understand the context of HCPs and satisfy the growing desire from doctors to be precisely understood by pharmaceuticals. No more tone deafness.

The Cegedim CEH builds logically on our innovation stack of CRM and other MCM technology, our world class MDM (Nucleus 360), and our global gold standard of HCP data (OneKey).

It is about the context, not the content, or the channels.


Richie Etwaru is a thought leader in organizational transformation, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is a former CIO, CTO, COO, Head of Innovation, holds international patents, and frequently keynotes major events across the world. A champion for global innovation, Richie is responsible for defining and delivering the global next-generation enterprise suite for health and life sciences at Cegedim Relationship Management. [email protected]; Twitter: @RichieEtwaru

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