Multiple factors are colliding to encourage the need for personalized analytics. The ever-expanding explosion of data is forcing companies to consider more nimble, automated solutions that simplify the user experience. The need for competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace is inspiring companies to arm reps with sales tools that give them an edge. Reps are increasingly expecting the kind of user experience that they get from consumer applications. The list goes on.
Personalization conjures a future where reps are no longer bombarded with information and expected to draw their own insights. In this future, AI-driven insights come to them as alerts on their mobile devices, personalized to their needs and customers, and delivered at the best possible time.
But this is pharma. Surely the spreadsheets and dashboards will persist, right? Not according to a recent research report from IDC that suggests the industry is ready for the improved business performance that personalized analytics can deliver. And not according to the two pharma experts who participated in Mahmood Majeed’s panel presentation at ZS’s 2018 Impact Summit, held Nov. 6-7 in Chicago. Majeed, ZS’s global head of business technology, hosted a panel on personalized analytics in pharma. The panelists included two pharmaceutical professionals with a combined 31 years of commercial pharmaceutical experience. While the panelists’ organizations are very different in terms of size and maturity, they’re both working on improving their sales operations via more relevant, timely and personalized analytics.
Here are four takeaways from their conversation:
- Personalized analytics can cut through the noise and eliminate analysis paralysis. One of the panelists came from a top-five pharma company with a massive global sales force and a long history of arming its reps with reports and sales tools. The picture that emerged of its sales organization was a common one: More and more data is available to sales reps. However, the result of this information overload leaves many reps drowning in data. “You think they need all this information to be successful,” the panelist said, “but sometimes they just want really basic information that’s actionable and timely, like ‘Am I falling behind on my call plan?’ ”
- Personalization offers a competitive advantage. Another panelist’s organization was on the opposite end of the spectrum: a brand-new company taking a drug to market for the first time. The company’s lean sales operation was up against deep-pocketed competition. According to the panelist, he first took the “Bellagio buffet” approach: “You want it in a map view? You got it in a map view. You want it in a table view? Check this stat out.” But soon, he realized that it took sales reps far too much time to find the information that they needed. “We launched third to market, so being able to be at the right customer with the right message with the right frequency [is] a quicker game” that provides competitive advantage. With the stakes set high, the organization decided to pursue a state-of-the-art data infrastructure and deliver more targeted, timely insights to the field.
- AI and automation has impact beyond the sales force. Both companies are still in the process of evolving their analytics in a more personalized direction. While both are pursuing personalized analytics from different points along the maturity curve, the anticipated impact is the same: Automation and personalization can improve efficiency within the sales organization, freeing reps of the burden of data collection and analysis. The impact reverberates beyond the sales team, too. Data analysts will no longer be tied down with ad hoc reporting for sales reps. Instead, they’ll be freed up to take on a more strategic role and help inform decision-making at the leadership level.
- Adoption is everything. There’s also the potential for higher sales, of course, as reps have more time to sell and can receive well-timed assists from AI in the form of relevant alerts and advice that help make sales. However, beyond increased sales and other straightforward KPIs, success will best be measured by rep buy-in. In other words, will reps like and use your personalized analytics platform? As one panelist put it, “I think what success looks like is just an engaged workforce.”
Whether you’re in a small or large pharma organization, external and internal forces are pushing companies to pursue a more personalized approach to commercial analytics. While the forces that will inevitably drive you to make this shift will vary, the benefits and the challenges will be universal.