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Re-imagining content supply chains for a next-gen customer experience in pharma

22 JUL 2019

The PharmaFuture Digital Council (https://www.digitalcouncil.pharmafuture.org/), an initiative by Indegene that brings together a group of industry leaders and innovators of digital commercialisation, aims to provide guidance on re-imagining customer engagement and focus on various enablers for the next-generation customer experience. The first of the interview series focuses on a re-engineered content supply chain. According to Uwe Dalichow, Head of Global Marketing Operations at Bayer and a member of the Digital Council: "The traditional way of creating and disseminating content in many pharma companies today is based on the interaction of brand manager with their agencies. Whether we like it or not, that's currently how it's being done. This means that a lot of know-how is actually not getting internalised within the organisation. There's a lot of debate and discussion on how best to position a brand or what messages brand teams should use, and in the end, it is delegated to external vendors. I think the key question is whether you want to keep this model or not, and it comes down to certain choices that have to be made."

"If you are responsible for making these choices, you should think about your approach for content tagging and creating modular content because it is clear that the conventional way of creating detail aids, in a rather limited framework, is not sufficient for serving the needs of our customers in the environment we live in today What is needed is on-the-fly, modular content, which can be adjusted quickly based on data and insights that are generated. Therefore, the model that we're using today is not adequate, and I think as an organisation it is important to be clear on what can be managed internally and what should be outsourced. This will help colleagues in-house to focus on key choices, namely where they want to play and where they want to win, and not necessarily on how to execute a short campaign with frequent cycles," added Dalichow.

Traditional content production is often driven manually, which is burdensome, error-prone and lacks the ability to systematically enable the content to deliver usage and consumption data post publication. Pharma brand teams are grappling with the lack of scalability needed for the growing number of touchpoints, channels, devices and platforms. The production of content, quality and speed of approvals add another layer of complexity to the process.

John McCarthy, Principal Consultant, DT Associates, and former Vice President, Global Digital at AstraZeneca, for example, believes that the first step for content supply chain reengineering starts from decoupling creation and production. By separating creation from production, you can focus on both and optimise both. Unless you recognise that one agency shouldn't be doing both components of this, you will not be able to really examine and optimise the supply chain.

According to Thomas Thestrup-Terp, Vice President, Commercial Operations at Novo Nordisk: "Novo Nordisk and many others are looking into the opportunity of decoupling creative generation of content from production. Moreover, the reproduction and reuse of content is becoming more and more attractive as we increasingly use digital channels. It's not about not working with the traditional agencies of record anymore, but it is about doing what is most efficient at places that offer the best opportunity to create efficiencies, not just in terms of cost but also capacity. In terms of maximising utility of content supply chain, we are focusing on five KPIs: use of content, re-use of content, cost of content, quality of content and time to market of content. These KPIs are driven from two needs. First, the need for efficiency, we simply need to be cost-conscious in the way we produce content. But foremost, I would say the anticipation of the content volume increasing rapidly as we embark on an increasingly digital and multi-channel communication with our customers (patients, payers or providers). I don't think it's anything new in the industry, but in terms of Novo Nordisk, we have started to prioritise this area."

Pharma marketers agree that content needs complete process re-engineering for it to be modular, adaptable and compliant. Enabling intelligent content requires a remodeled process, by identifying new centralised partners, updating the technology stack, and reorienting the overall content approach. It begins with an understanding of the customer capturing HCP preference along multiple dimensions like topics of interest, key entities, tone, sentiment, metadata, form, creative elements and style. The next step is understanding the content, ie, the approved ‘Sources of Truth', which is extracted, tagged, classified and scored.

According to Jeff French, Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at ViiV Healthcare: "From a content supply chain perspective, I think the key point is getting the planning right in terms of understanding the customer journeys you have, the experiences that you are trying to create, the behaviors that you are trying to shift, and then creating your content plan which supports that exercise. A lot of folks do the planning, but they try everything globally first. The reality is that they need to know where to draw a line, and understand what truly is global and what really needs to be defined locally, and then how you get a content development capacity that caters to the agility in the content industry.

"I do believe that a content factory is a definitive choice in the matter. The difference would be that today, content factories are based on predefined understanding of what has to be done. The content owners and creators work directly with the local markets to facilitate the adjustments of that content. This is where content factories get the model a little bit wrong and they try to standardise everything as much as possible for efficiency, and therefore lose effectiveness at the local market level. I believe that the factory needs to start to move more upstream, even tapping into the creative process.

"The importance of the content defines the experience at the end of the day. It is not just the tool or the channel, but it is actually the content that defines customer experience. If you are creating content in the pharma industry, it is quite easy to do typical content messaging around product or scientific information. However, nobody is thinking about how to reinvent the content so that it is more adjustable, simpler and a little bit easier to break apart to even multiple chunks. Also, we should be able to really understand how it can affect the behavioural change at that particular moment of time in that channel," added Jeff.

Changing business environment has brought customer experience at the pivot of all pharma marketing initiatives. Industry leaders believe that this is the moment when the approach needs to shift from a transaction mindset to next-gen customer experiences in order to remain engaged with physicians and patients and remain profitable. The end of the blockbuster era makes a compelling business case for the transformational approach to content supply chain and longitudinal view of customer information needs.

"We are hoping to turn marketers from being tactical project managers into more strategic marketers, to free their mind space and physical time to focus on creating unique customer experiences instead of producing fantastic marketing tactics for execution," added Novo Nordisk's Thomas Thestrup-Terp.