Pharma needs a digital reset
Pharma knows the value of digital, yet it admits only a fraction of launches regularly succeed
Just 4% of digital product launches regularly succeed, despite a strong industry appreciation of the value of digital.
The findings from new global pharma industry research, published by digital customer experience agency Graphite Digital, reveal the barriers that remain for pharma as it aims to use digital to add value to HCP and patient relationships.
The Contradiction Conundrum report, conducted in partnership with Reuters Events Pharma, explores how pharma organisations are approaching their digital products, tools and services, identified a number of contradictions in industry approaches.
The research found, for example, that 85% of respondents believe that ‘only those pharma companies that invest in digital customer experience and talk to their customers regularly will be able to differentiate themselves and add value to customers now and in the future’.
Yet less than half (37.5%), said they ‘have a process in place for understanding their user needs when it comes to digital products’ and less than a third (27%) said that their organisations ‘always conducts user research’ for their digital products or services to find out what their audiences actually need and want.
Instead, digital pharma teams are often setting the bar for their own digital products based on competitors’ activities and monitoring trends, as well as relying heavily on internal expertise to make key decisions. Approaches that involved speaking with customers directly were the least selected answers.
When it comes to understanding the current low success rates of digital pharma product launches, a key factor appears to be that fundamental aspects of a digital strategy are being overlooked. A lack of planning and long-term outlook as well as problems setting KPIs and success metrics were all recognised as contributing factors, with 10% of respondents admitting that they didn’t measure anything in relation to their digital product launches.
Defining success when it comes to digital assets can be a challenge for pharma organisations, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. How this is implemented depends entirely on the purpose of the work, but there needs to be a plan agreed in advance, with relevant metrics, so success and failure can be tracked. Looking at the value that is created for end users, combined with how the product performs for the business is a good starting point in defining ‘success’.
There was also a clear indication from the industry that the old ways of engaging with HCPs need adapting, with the majority (65%) agreeing that ‘direct marketing to HCPs online had run its course’ and that the next phase of digital engagement is with service-led tools that add value for HCPs.
However, 80% of respondents agreed that pharma currently gets ‘too distracted building websites and apps and doesn’t follow through on creating services that provide long-term engagement’ for HCPs and patients.
Build back better
The stats above are indicative of a rapidly evolving mindset amongst many individuals and organisations within pharma, and a sector that knows change is needed. The research from Graphite explores this further, uncovering differences in mindset across pharma teams — particularly those within Commercial roles and those in Medical Affairs roles.
The pharma sector is not blind to the problems that exist around digital innovation and transformation. A naturally risk-averse culture results in projects taking a long time to get to market, and when they do arrive, their purpose and impact are often lower than originally intended.
The industry needs to take new approaches, particularly when it comes to user research and customer centricity. By moving from a product-first to customer-first mindset, digital products are more likely to succeed.
Although the ‘4% success rate’ statistic may be concerning at first glance, the report highlights many opportunities for pharma to enhance audience relationships and improve ROI by building better digital capabilities. There are pockets of exceptional work being done already within digital in pharma, and internal innovators are being increasingly empowered and supported. Those organisations with the right focus and the agility to respond fastest will come out on top.
A copy of the full research report can be downloaded here.
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