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The first 5 actions for making your pharma business more digital

starting line

Photo by Cupcake Media on Unsplash


Digital Pharma is a hot topic those days. Beyond this tiny little website, there currently is a virtual Tsunami of articles, blog posts, guidances, opinions, etc. on how to make our business more digital.

But with all the things you will read and hear, there is an obvious question. Where to start, which measures to take first?

Here I am going to share with your the 5 immediate actions I would take.


1. Push coordination (some call it “governance”)

Today, in most life science organizations I have seen so far, there seems to be a scattered rag rug of digital customer engagement activities. There will be projects driven by different divisions, different functions, and across layers (e.g. global, regional, local).

So, one of your first measures has to be linking the knots of the net.

You may call it governance. But not governance is the sense of reigning, controlling or patronizing. The concept of control is not only contradicting agile approaches (in final consequence). Getting control of a cross-functional rag rug is also simply a complete illusion! So, don’t waste your valuable time with it. If you cannot solve the patchwork, use it!

Aim at governance in the sense of coordination and alignment. Get an overview of your organization’s rich digital landscape. With the mission to use the synergies, to reduce duplicated efforts and redundancies, and to ensure that all digital activities provide a consistent external picture and all tell the same story to your customers.

First action: Link scattered digital activities, and kick-off a cross-divisional, cross-functional, cross-layer digital governance board.


2. Get clarity on real-world customer needs and preferences

Identify digital customer needs, digital customer and preferences, and prioritize.

Sounds easy? Well, with the right approach it is certainly not rocket science, but still needs to be done rock solid.

Second action: Compile and review available customer research findings on digital needs and preferences. And consequently fill gaps with state-of-the-art digital customer needs research.


3. Grow an internal ‘community of digital excellence’

You cannot save the world alone. An internal community of digital excellence is you ‘army’ for penetrating the organization with digital transformation. You need a group of dedicated, committed, motivated ambassadors, “activists” and stakeholders, in whatever function or business unit, being involved or would like to be involved.

Third action: Initiate, grow and include an internal Digital CoE.


4. Start digital upskilling

Upskilling is about enabling, but also about aligning. The mission is not only to provide specialized courses for people being in digital or omnichannel roles. The whole organization needs to be brought to another level of understanding the requirements and consequences of digital transformation. Education needs to support the cultural change, which typically is needed. For that reason your internal digital upskilling should cover measures for all levels and functions, from the MSLs and SalesReps to the CEO.

Fourth action: Start an internal digital education program, which is taking the whole organization to a next level.


5. Foster bottom-up digital pilots

Change needs success stories for being accepted. Tangible and real-world examples. Ideally bottom-up, e.g. as a pilot MVP or campaign in a single country or area. Where the set-up is based on customer-centricity, design thinking approaches, and agile methodologies.

Pilots are a perfect way of learning by doing. Running those exercises will reveal general bottlenecks, process-dependencies, and requirements to be considered. So, pilots offer the chance to concomitantly deliver best practices for your environment.

Fifth action: Be brave, and do digital pilots resulting in best-practices and success stories.


Now, you would like to know a little bit more about ‘how-to’ for one or several actions listed by me. Let’s talk.