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The Complete 9 Steps to Set Up a Centralized Digital Factory for Your Commercial Content

9 Dec 2021

Although traditionally the pharma industry has been slow to adopt new technologies due to its regulatory environment, in the recent years, the industry has been rushing to implement digital-first processes to meet evolving customer expectations.

However, the lack of audience-specific content and poor orchestration of channels stand in the way of building long-lasting relationships with customers and understanding their behavior at every touchpoint. With overwhelming, uncoordinated channel use and promotional waste, the industry stands to gain much from adopting systems that enable omnichannel communication in a coordinated manner. A successful omnichannel engagement strategy includes the integration, orchestration, and personalization of customer interactions across multiple channels to keep up with the customer’s needs. This pivotal shift enables brands to cut through today’s noisy healthcare content marketplace.

The past decade saw the rise of multichannel marketing. This next one has begun on an omnichannel high. However, there are several challenges to implementing an omnichannel approach to marketing. For example, while an omnichannel strategy uses personalized content at the heart of customer experience, how would one deploy simultaneous orchestration and optimization across personal, non-personal, and media channels? What about integrating the needs of patients, healthcare professionals, and payers? While these shortcomings have stood in the way of a true omnichannel experience in pharma, a centralized digital factory model has emerged as a viable solution. It seamlessly pushes joins content creation processes with content distribution, serves as a steady ground for omnichannel orchestration, and significantly improves the time to market.

So, What Exactly Is a Digital Factory?

A “Digital Factory” is the control center orchestrating various stakeholders across the content supply chain by leveraging organization-specific standards and best practices across markets and agencies.

It enables an organization to automate the workflow among people, processes, and technology right from campaign planning to execution, thereby improving the speed to market, bringing efficiencies and savings, maintaining compliance, and providing quality at scale.

In a nutshell, a “Digital Factory” can serve as a plug-and-play solution to accelerate the adoption of global initiatives and drive customer insights with data.

The 9 Steps to Set Up a Digital Factory Based on Your Unique Content Requirements

At a glance, setting up a centralized digital factory may seem daunting. However, from our experience of having set up over 18 digital factories for leading global pharma companies, we have realized that it is far less complex than it seems. We found that there are 9 fundamental steps that, when implemented correctly, can help an organization set up a digital factory that suits its unique content production needs, which are listed below.

1. Establish a clear objective

Identify the pain points in your present multichannel or traditional marketing model. The omnichannel model and strategy should be set up with clear goals to overcome existing pain points while setting clear customer-facing success metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs).

2. Create a proactive center of excellence

Once automation replaces several previously manual processes, your marketing team’s time is best invested into studying the data generated by the digital factory and identifying levers that maximize results from your digital factory.

3. Embed the digital factory’s functions into existing processes

Explore how the digital factory’s functions can be connected with your clinical, regulatory, and medical outcomes as well. This could become a force multiplier for your larger business outcomes.

4. Define clear guidelines across stakeholders

Change management is a critical component to the success of any new system or process. The digital factory is no exception. Prepare your stakeholders to be smoothly onboarded into the new process by defining clear guidelines.

5. Ensure an automation-first mindset on recurring activities

What could be a great way to streamline processes and ensure zero hiccups while setting up a digital factory? Automate recurring, repetitive tasks and processes to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and capture the value of real-time responsiveness.

6. Measure performance, reconcile learnings, and improvise with data

Although pharma companies sit on a wealth of data, achieving customer-centricity requires one to measure the performance of their content and make changes based on lessons learned. The digital factory can enable this with advanced analytics.

7. Leverage the right tech stack

A digital factory is built using multiple tech products; most of these have substitutes available. Identifying the right products for your requirements is crucial to setting up an effective digital factory. This depends on your use cases and on how well the different products integrate to create a seamless ecosystem.

8. Balance strategy with execution

A common pitfall while setting up a digital factory is to focus excessively on execution, leading to inordinate time spent on processes being set up. It is important to keep processes agile because the digital factory will enable you to experiment with newer strategies.

9. Ensure a continuous feedback and improvement mechanism

Establish a culture of continuous feedback built on the insights generated by the digital factory. Continuous improvement of the digital factory depends on consistent feedback.

Although these 9 steps cover the most important factors that one must consider while setting up a digital factory, some nuances require a deeper understanding. We wrote “Managing Omnichannel Transformation: The Right Digital Factory Model” in collaboration with Veeva Systems to explore this topic in more detail.

Omnichannel marketing that is orchestrated simultaneously across multiple global locations, is no longer a good-to-have. It has become essential in the experience economy, where customer experience benchmarks are steadily rising. A centralized digital factory thus becomes a crucial component to successful marketing operations in pharma, with its promise of streamlining disjointed marketing efforts and delivering content personalization at scale!


Perlin Rajendran
Perlin Rajendran