In the new normal, it is well established that customers are going to use a range of tools and technologies to make more informed decisions on health outcomes. This evolution has transformed the role of marketing in delivering a better customer experience. Among various levers, agile can be the key to unlocking the value marketing can generate for customers and organizations. Agile requires a certain discipline all the way up to senior leadership and a common understanding of agile marketing processes and goals. While embedding agile methodology in marketing, it is important to begin the journey from the customer and not from the inside. Whether it is generating digital content multi-fold, running more multichannel campaigns, executing virtual meetings seamlessly, or enhancing reporting capabilities on engagements, everything should lead to customer delight.
Pharma is not new to agile marketing. There have been agile teams in the past, but eventually, they tend to become siloed and disjointed, largely due to the lack of strong change management drive from the top. Agile involves redefining the framework, investing adequate time and resources to train the global and local teams to align with the broader objectives.
In their journey toward agility, some organizations are now establishing new processes to integrate more robust insight cycles to feed into customer engagement and capability-building decisions. They are also re-establishing their brand planning cycles to lend themselves to greater agility than the traditional annual cycles allowed for Few other organizations have established full-fledged agile processes for capability buildouts based on user stories, product backlogs, prioritization, etc.
Scale Versus Flexibility
While adopting an agile approach, organizations have to strike a delicate balance between scale and flexibility. In most instances, scale and flexibility are not necessarily needed at the same time, but the teams need to deliver one or the other when needed. There are two important considerations the organizations have to note while structuring agile teams/squads and embedding capabilities locally or at a global delivery level. Organizations also need to balance agility with financial sustainability. For instance, embedding a full range of capabilities in all the local markets may lend itself to greater agility, but it may not be a financially sustainable model.
Agile Content Operations
The decoupled model for content creation and production, which many large organizations have adopted, brings its own challenges to agile operations. Modular content is touted to be a plausible solution to this agility problem. Instead of creating master assets, agencies can create flexible content modules that the downstream production capabilities can leverage and assemble to churn out content in an agile way. Organizations can also consider expanding the scope of content factories to perform an end-to-end suite of services including tagging, analytics, etc. to enable better agility.
In addition, the agile model requires a new level of integration and alignment with creative agencies (partners or in-house) and content factories. Companies need to identify key activities that need greater agility and evaluate partners accordingly – who can deliver agility for “key activities” versus who can deliver cost optimization for “business as usual” activities.
Agile Squads, Structures, and Roles
As most industry leaders have highlighted, the lines between marketing and technology teams are getting blurred. While brand teams evolve, pharma companies have to create pockets of experiments to figure out team structures and roles of the future. Even though agile does not mandate organizational restructuring, few organizations have established foundational platforms over the last year for marketing and IT to co-develop capabilities in an agile way. They have also set up new roles such as product owners, channel owners, agile coaches, customer marketers, etc. With new agile squads being formed across the organization, leaders need to figure out the interface between various squads in play so that what they perform and build aligns with the organization's strategic priority. They also need to align local squads and global delivery squads to achieve flexibility and scale when required. However, from a resource management perspective, agile squads could become financially unsustainable if not carefully structured.
Regardless of the structure, organizations need to sustain their efforts and investments in training the organization to operate in an agile way to reap the full spectrum of benefits such as greater speed to market, greater personalization, and prioritization of valuedriving opportunities.