Five Commercial Trends that Will Dominate 2017

Digital transformation in the life sciences industry will accelerate in 2017. These are the five trends that will have the most impact on commercial organizations and drive greater efficiencies and ways of working that will help companies capture new opportunities this year.

We are in the golden age of life sciences and 2017 promises to be another exciting year as the industry continues to grow and push new frontiers in scientific breakthroughs that improve the quality of life for people around the world. As innovations increase and the landscape becomes more complex, there will be greater pressure for companies to modernize commercial operations for the digital age.

The consumerization of technology is expanding into the enterprise and will bring digital disruption to life sciences. Today, digital demand is being driven by customer and patient expectations to have information online, on demand, and all of the time – through any channel or device. This shift is forcing life science companies to embrace digital technologies to fundamentally change how they operate their business. However, the transition to digital has been slow, with regulations, organizational siloes, and fragmented systems holding life sciences back from making the shift.

The focus for many commercial teams will be to use the power of digital in areas such as content management, digital engagement, and data analytics. This transformation will allow companies to improve execution of product launches, drive consistent and effective engagement with health care professionals, and empower sales teams with actionable insight.

This sustained focus on transformational change to drive greater efficiencies and ways of working will enable life sciences to capture new opportunities in 2017.

Here are the five trends that will significantly impact commercial organizations this year as the industry prepares for digital disruption.

Cloud Innovations Modernize Commercial Models

Many aspects of the commercial business model are still “pre-internet” and ready for disruption. It’s like taxi cabs before Uber, hotels before Airbnb, retail before Amazon, or airlines before Sabre. This way of working is forcing many life sciences companies to re-invent the wheel in multiple areas – every brand across the company develops its own website, digital engagement strategies vary from country to country, and key opinion leaders (KOLs) are identified from scratch for each new launch.

Life sciences will continue to shift to cloud-based unified solutions to address these inefficiencies, enable end-to-end processes, and streamline commercial operations. Commercial teams will move to a single platform to manage content and digital engagement to deliver a more coordinated, valuable customer experience across many touch points.

Collaboration Makes it Easier, Faster for HCPs to Connect with Industry

The rise of specialty medicine is creating a greater need for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to have more timely and tailored information. In addition, they have greater expectations to engage through the digital channels they prefer. However, there is too much friction that makes information access difficult. For example, a single pharma company may have 10-15 digital channels with different ways of recognizing and registering the HCP. Multiply that by the number of companies a HCP works with and you have inefficiency and frustration for the customer. The result is they look elsewhere for information.

Industry collaboration will make it easier for healthcare professionals to connect with life sciences companies. The industry will come together on the commercial side to define and adopt industry-standard processes for their shared customers to get the right information faster, leading to better outcomes for patients.

New Digital Channel Opens up Between Pharma and HCPs

As consumers, making video calls is simple and online meetings in other industries is easy and commonplace. In life sciences, however, the ability to engage online has been out of reach due to regulations and technology limitations. Facilitating a video call with a HCP required awkward workarounds and multiple presentation technologies to share approved content, ultimately leading to a poor experience for the field rep and the customer.

Online meetings will open up as an important digital channel between life sciences companies and healthcare professionals. Digital engagement will be easier and compliant with integrated applications built to meet the industry’s unique requirements and regulations. The use of this digital channel will become more ubiquitous and help life science companies increase reach to more HCPs and meet customer’s growing expectations for interactions to be online.

Medical and Commercial Teams Improve Customer Coordination

Life sciences companies will prioritize improved collaboration between medical and commercial teams with the goal of developing a deeper, more accurate understanding of their relationships with healthcare decision makers. For example, we’re seeing companies in the immuno-oncology space launch new products quarterly, raising the stakes to have a collective view of all the stakeholders they need to drive engagement with. And since medical affairs and commercial teams are often engaging with the same stakeholder, there is a lack of coordination which leads to a frustrating experience for these decision makers.

Life sciences will continue to make cloud technology investments that remove siloes so medical affairs and commercial teams can work together in a responsible way. With tighter integration, medical affairs will be able to quickly identify key stakeholders and have a more holistic view of their interactions with commercial teams, so they can deliver a more coordinated and tailored customer experience.

Data Driven Actions Come of Age

The growing volume of data has created tremendous opportunity for life sciences, but delivering contextual insights and making it easy for sales teams to take action is challenging. Today, the spectrum of a sales rep’s insight capabilities ranges from having to go to multiple places to get information to having no quality insights to use at all. The workflow isn’t optimized, hindering the commercial team’s ability to turn valuable insight into a competitive advantage.

Advancements in cloud technology will make it easier for life sciences companies to deliver relevant insights, when and where commercial teams need it, so they can take immediate next steps. For example, a sales rep out in the field would get real-time recommendations to inform their next action with a customer (i.e. send an email, make a call, drop off a sample).

With these new data driven insights at their fingertips, they can make better decisions about which materials and resources are utilized and what messages will be delivered. The ability to turn vast amounts of data into digestible and actionable insight about the life sciences customer will improve commercial’s sales and marketing strategies.

2017: Seize the Digital Opportunity

With so much new opportunity to capture in 2017, we expect life science companies to break new records and achieve new product and organizational milestones. As companies set forth on their digital transformation journey, cloud innovation and adoption will support these efforts and drive the operating model of the future. In this new model, life science companies will be more agile and ready to react quickly to changing market conditions, and ultimately will be in a better position to capture the digital opportunity.


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