Last week, at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) event, the best and the brightest in the “war on cancer” convened to share findings and to offer hope and promise to the millions of cancer sufferers.
Many of our customers were in attendance sharing the results of their research and development efforts. This is the industry at its finest – doing the hard work to improve people’s lives and providing hope against incredible odds.
The greatest news is the research showing it is possible to activate the body’s immune system to attack cancer of many types. While not perfected, yet, these clinical pathways pave the way for not only incredible cancer therapies; but, the technique can be harnessed for multiple clinical conditions.
We are likely on the cusp of another revolution in pharmaceutical innovation that promises better lives for millions, and potentially billions, of people.
We should all be grateful for the dedication of the thousands and thousands of people working to better all of our lives. Thank you for your commitment to your calling.
By now, we are (or should be) aware of the hoopla surrounding the National Security Administration’s (NSA) PRISM program – the program that purportedly taps into the 9 largest internet companies to draw inference patterns that help identify suspected terrorist activities or threats to national security.
I am not going to debate the constitutionality of the program or whether the government should be conducting this type of surveillance; however, I will say I am not at all surprised this program (purportedly) exists. With our nation’s dependence on telecommunications and information, PRISM was almost inevitable.
The program is the extreme example of what Big Data is capable of and how Big Data can inflame emotions – both positive and negative.
There is a lesson here for all of us – I have espoused “digital exhaust” as a means to enhance mobile applications and our understanding of user behavior. But – as the NSA PRISM debacle clearly illustrates – ignorance of WHAT data is being collected and HOW it is being used can inflame emotional reactions that will not be positive.
I have heard stories of: reps covering their web cameras with tape so “HQ” won’t spy on them, reps fearing the GPS functions of their phones and iPads fearing their physical movements will be tracked; and, people carrying multiple cell phones in order to keep their personal communications personal.
I would suggest these fears are overblown and in fact misplaced. However, paranoia is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Without clearly defined digital exhaust/big data policies and a specified data set defined, individuals’ imaginations can and will run wild. This arena requires intent, ethics and actions BE 100% in alignment. And, employees and stakeholders must be provided clear and transparent communications concerning the program.
The power of Big Data – appropriately communicated and used – can yield Big Results.
I write this en-route from the Eye For Pharma Philadelphia 2013 event; I’ll share what I saw at the event.
Approximately 150 pharma execs and vendors convened to discuss the usual subjects: FDA and regulatory issues, compliance, social media, mobility, patient centricity, multi-channel marketing, social media (did I mention this), the changing world, etc.
There were at least 8 vendors exhibiting who specialize in e-detailing/interactive visual aids — this in a time when physician access (currently about 16% of a rep’s day) is declining precipitously. I predict continued shake-out in this mature and crowded space. We saw three major (as measured by sales revenue) software vendors in attendance — is this the wave of the future with the marketing department slated to outspend IT by 2017?
We heard several presenters talk about the changing nature of a rep’s duties and responsibilities — less detailing, more concierge service. Less “rote” recitation, more key account management and solutions selling. This will have significant impact on field force composition, content development, and information and system architecture design.
We’ve begun to see the first waves of post-iPhoria; several large pharma companies are experimenting with/planning to deploy Windows tablet devices. This trend, while still in its infancy, stems from the desire for greater enterprise systems capabilities on tablet devices, the added cost and complexity iPads add to IT infrastructure and operations, and the reps desire to “lighten their load” by consolidating from 3 devices to 2.
The most significant change I’ve noticed is a burgeoning recognition that it is time to act. The industry has changed — the “good old days” of blockbuster drugs are behind us. The “post-pill” era is upon us and firms are beginning to respond. Centers of excellence are becoming the norm — replacing the siloed-brand approaches will not work in the era of ACOs and empowered patients and prescribers.
And, most importantly, I see a very smart, data-driven industry beginning to apply the same outcomes-based discipline to its marketing efforts as it does to its clinical processes. However, this needs to be managed — as a participant in my presentation pointed out: “We have to avoid being paralyzed by the data. Just because we CAN measure something doesn’t mean we should. We should only collect and analyze data we plan to use to effect outcomes of our activities.”
And, as usual, I’ve met a whole new group of professional acquaintances who will continue to shape my understanding of and appreciation for this industry. Thank you all for becoming part of my life.
In a recent Forbes column, columnist Rich Karlgaard, makes the case that: “Growth is not an option.”
His argument — very well thought out, pragmatic, and empirically based — is the United States needs to achieve, and sustain, GDP growth of 4%+ in order to address our budget and entitlement issues in the long term.
Where will this growth come from? Likely from the efforts of entrepreneurs – the people who create new technologies, companies, industries and lots of new jobs, as this Forbes article by Elaine Pofeldt points out.
Karlgaard makes a strong case for the power of entrepreneurship – and this is an area where I put my money, and time, where my mouth is.
For the last 3 years, my family has been involved with the Young Entrepreneurs Business Week. Both of my sons are alumni of the program and now I am committed to (serving as the Board Vice Chair). In our eighth year, our mission is to “train the next generation of business leaders.” We aim to educate Oregon’s youth to become enthusiastically productive business people. We aim for these people to become “engines” of economic growth.
And this mission has yielded us some unexpected, positive results; many alum tell us they were admitted to their stretch colleges BECAUSE of their involvement with YEBW. In addition to seeing stellar growth in our enrollment this year, we expect to have fully 20% of the attendees from out of state, and 10% from overseas. Go figure…
My take is there is clearly a burgeoning thirst for knowledge in our youth, and business acumen ambition is seen as a good thing. I believe this is a GREAT thing.
I strongly encourage your children, friends’ children, etc. to take a look at the program. You never know how one experience can change life’s fortunes.
On Tuesday, I shared some strong indictments of marketing from around the industry in Mind the Gap; the point being there is a “gap” between what CMOs can and should be doing.
So, Friday’s Forbes article Big Pharma Learned the Wrong Marketing Lesson caught my attention. In this scathing indictment of pharma marketing, contributor Steve Brozak talks of how big pharma needs to emulate tech innovators (such as Google) and wean itself from blockbuster drug dependencies. Easier said than done….
However, Brozak’s points have merit. At most conferences/shows we attend, the industry spends entirely too much time comparing themselves with their peers rather than comparing and learning from companies outside the industry. The common refrain is: “…but, we’re different – our industry is heavily regulated.”
True – but Life Sciences in not the only regulated industry in the world. Being regulated is not a reason to not innovate. The industry has a stellar – and well deserved – reputation for innovating in the laboratories. Where this innovation breaks down is on the marketing side, as Brozak so clearly points out. Brozak makes a case for clearly articulated, truly personalized communications to the customer base.
Where Brozak misses the mark is by painting with a “nine-inch brush”; there are Life Sciences companies who develop and market products for very narrow audiences; there are companies who have truly personalize communications; and, as the market shows, Wall Street is rewarding some companies’ investors quite handsomely.
However, if the shoe fits, wear it. If the indictment is on target, adapt.
Regardless of the veracity of the indictment, the best thing for marketers is to embrace the indictment. Establish a new paradigm and execute to it. Look outside the industry for inspiration and internalize it. Do things differently — not incrementally, but radically differently. Identify a case study (from outside the industry) from which to learn.
Based on Brozak’s illustrations, an excellent case study – in my mind – is IBM in the early 1980’s and the 1990’s. IBM was “addicted” to pushing blockbuster hardware on the masses. Upstart Microsoft changed the paradigm by focusing on personal and workgroup solutions. Under Lou Gerstner, after flirting with bankruptcy, IBM had to transform its entire business model and emerged a much stronger, and larger, company built on serving the customer, not schlepping hardware. There are strong parallels to the state of the pharma industry today.
Adaptation – as Brozak points out – is an evolutionary response to environmental factors. The environment for Big Pharma is placing enormous stress on the industry. How are you responding to the changes in YOUR environment?
Replacing brochures with 500 iPads saved one company $1.5m -- but that was just the start.
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