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Martech for Life Sciences – Practical insights from industry leaders on how to get your vision and execution right

26 Oct 2022

Life Sciences organizations have been upping their MarTech investments to deliver data-driven personalization for their customers. But these investments and efforts are yet to show their true potential. At the Indegene Digital Summit 2022, industry experts from Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, ViiV Healthcare, and Regeneron shared their insights as part of a panel discussion on why life sciences brands struggle with seamless MarTech and what they need to unlock its true potential.

The panel discussion also delved into key factors such as technology, stakeholder prioritization, and execution alignment across the board that is needed to ensure commercial success with MarTech. The key highlights from the session are summarized below.

“Do not start with technology as the solution” - Andrew Isaacs, VP, Head of Marketing at Novartis

Life sciences brands are finding it tough to deliver hyper-personalized experiences for HCPs and patients despite deploying the best of MarTech tools and techniques.

Andrew indicates that technology and tools only help in a limited way as most life sciences brands fail to identify their blind spots. With legacy functional siloes and slow approval processes, MarTech implementations do not necessarily bring out the data unification that is needed for successful orchestration. Andrew recommends that Teams across brands and regions must bridge their functional siloes and work globally in a standard way.

“It starts with the right metrics. What gets measured gets done” – Sierra Towers, VP, Go-to-Market and Operations at Boehringer Ingelheim

Behavioral change is the starting point of MarTech transformation – and stakeholder alignment across the execution chain is extremely vital, says Sierra.

Getting the entire ecosystem of stakeholders to change their goals and adopt a more agile way of approaching brand tactics is a tough challenge, but brand teams must overcome this in order to drive MarTech change. Identify the right outcomes and derived metrics. Starting from senior management to the marketing tactical implementers, teams need to set down goals and objectives for a martech first communication strategy for customers. This requires a shift from the traditional inside-out brand strategy to an outside-in customer-led vision is key. So, before you go any further, take a moment to consider what your customers want from you as a brand, prioritize these goals, and make sure there's a strategy in place that'll help you accomplish them.

“MarTech success is about how well our customer strategy aligns to our data strategy” – Jeff S French, VP and Chief Digital Officer at ViiV Healthcare

Jeff emphasizes that the MarTech vision of any brand does not necessarily mean different technologies for different audience types. Be it HCPs or patients, the way brand teams approach and view their customer data must undergo a fundamental shift. Data privacy, regulatory compliance, and accessibility to patient information should be at the center of data collection and messaging strategies, regardless of whether the message is intended for HCPs or patients. For this, life sciences brands must work towards a system of technologies that allow for auto-approval of data, sharing, and creation of content. This is not necessarily just tools but a combination of skills and technologies that turn data into meaningful and actionable insights that can be used to further strengthen communication.

“Being a niche life sciences player just emerging out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we did not have to deal with a load of older technology ecosystems. We started off as being collaborative and dependent on internal as well as external agencies – something that we cannot deny that drove our CX vision,” – Anand Ramachandran, Director, Commercial Marketing Technology at Regeneron

The shift for biotech and biosimilars is much simpler as they typically do not have legacy and traditional IT environments and can easily go data first. However, what is crucial to success is the methodology of realizing quick wins or early failures and moving on with urgency, says Anand.

What is also important is how life sciences brands are now working together with external partners who are well-equipped to drive the change internally. Be it consulting, technology operations, or marketing operations, growing life sciences brands are realizing the expertise of partners and working with them closely to drive change.

What must life sciences brands do to get their MarTech vision and execution right?

For MarTech to drive customer engagement and personalized experiences – there needs to be an ecosystem of the right data, technological integrations, and processes closely coupled with people skills and leadership vision.

Life sciences brands must approach their MarTech execution by starting with the customer and getting the right data in place before anything else. There is a need for digital content enablers such as asset management, modular content creation, and marketing orchestration tools across various channels. Technologies that seamlessly integrate with each other often rest on a robust data stack built into these tools – so that content creation and orchestration become real-time and relevant.

But this is not enough, even after the correct tools and data are in place, what is vital for success is the organization’s skill set and stakeholder alignment towards a common goal. Across all levels, there must be a collective vision of brand CX goals, and what needs to be done to achieve them.

Ultimately, a customer-first mindset with appropriate data-driven strategies not only drives seamless MarTech execution but also helps in delivering personalized experiences that lead to customer delight and brand loyalty.