As the ‘Lockdown. 04’ in India passes by, a time comes to press the restart button of all business activities in the country, in a calibrated manner, though, keeping in mind, the Covid-19 cases is yet to find its peak in the country. The process would naturally include all activities of the pharma industry. And more specifically, the prescription demand generation activity, where personal selling has remained pivotal in all these years.
But now, while living with the new Coronavirus, it would require greater cerebral interventions of astute pharma marketers. Creating an innovative pathway for recovery – driven by actionable insights, through an agile and digitally empowered workforce, would be the name of the game for success. In this article, I shall focus on this important area, as the industry moves on.
The bedrock of the new pathway:
The ‘restarting’ process of the prescription demand generation mechanism, I reckon, would no longer be the same ball game. It will now entail gaining cutting-edge actionable insights on the evolving dynamics of the changing business processes. It involves customers’ new preferences for consumption in the healthcare space and ascertaining the most effective demand generation processes or tools in the prevailing new normal.
Therefore, the bedrock of the new pathway, in my view, will necessarily need to be based on:
- A huge pool of relevant, credible and preferably real-time ‘Data.’
- ‘Information’ obtained by analyzing the ‘Data’ as desired.
- ‘Actionable Insight’ gathered from the collected ‘information.’
The encouraging point is, several companies, even in India, have already started testing the water to chart the way forward.
Some fundamental changes in the path to recovery:
The McKinsey article of May 12, 2020 titled, ‘Pharma operations: The path to recovery and the next normal,’ also noted: ‘Given the shifts that have taken place seemingly overnight in response to the immediate crisis, companies are also turning their attention to recovery and the path to the next normal. It will likely bring about fundamental changes in pharma operations.’
Besides, the future of work will become more remote and distributed, and demand may shift to new capabilities and talent. Moreover, ‘the post-COVID-19 workforce and organization will also likely adopt new, more efficient ways of working.’ Thus, pharma organizations should consider adapting quickly in the path to the next normal, the article added.
The change and increasing relevance of ‘Data’, ‘Information’ and ‘Insight’:
While discussing about ‘Data’, ‘Information’ and ‘Actionable Insight,’ let us first try to understand the differences between each of these three. Voccii, the US based market research firm, captured this difference eloquently, as follows:
- Data: the raw and unprocessed facts, captured according to some agreed-upon standards. It could be a number, an image, an audio clip, a transcription, or similar.
- Information: the data that has been processed, aggregated, and organized into a more human-friendly format. Data visualizations, reports and dashboards are common ways to present information.
- Insight: gained by analyzing data and information to understand the context of a particular situation and draw conclusions. Those conclusions lead to actions that one can apply to business operations.
To facilitate the process of desired changes, translating research data into actionable insights will now be a crucial strategic input. In fact, these are essential while recomposing notes in pharma sales and marketing playbook, more than ever before. Notably, it has now been established in other industries that actionable insights facilitate prompt business process transformation, putting the organization ahead of competition for excellence.
What really are ‘actionable insights?’
Although, these two words are self-explanatory, it’s better to reiterate again – what ‘actionable insights’- based ventures are. It will help all to be on the same page while reading this piece. As I understand, ‘actionable insights’ mean gaining an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something or some situation based on relevant and credible data, that can help generate specific actions for a successful outcome.
However, what generally happens instead, and particularly in the Indian pharma industry, is usually very different. Quite often, many marketers get drowned in a large pool of available data and information, sans the cerebral skill of gaining actionable insights out of those – they start relying more on their ‘gut-feel’. As a result, ‘gut feel’ driven actions try to be in the driver’s seat, rather than data-based ‘actionable insights’ of high value.
Digital insights would be ‘The new currency of business’ in the new normal:
Today, it’s not quite uncommon to find pharma companies, especially in India, having loads of data and information. What they perhaps need to learn is, how to convert those inputs into actionable insights, the lack of which could make even the best of market research initiatives unproductive. That’s why, around the world, many believe that Digital Insights Are The New Currency Of Business. More so, in the new normal of living with Covid-19.
The article – ‘Actionable Insights: The Missing Link Between Data And Business Value,’ published in Forbes on April 26, 2016 also emphasized this point. It said. ‘With many companies struggling to make sense of their data and create value with their big data investments, the promise of actionable insights sounds wonderful. Forrester reports 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” but only 29% are actually successful at connecting analytics to action. Actionable insights appear to be the missing link for companies that want to drive business outcomes from their data.’
Harvesting insights from data can fetch huge financial returns for the company. Which is why, sitting at the apex of the data pyramid, actionable insights help drive strategic action. It prompts rethink the status quo, pushing marketers to move into a new strategic direction. From this perspective, in the new normal of living with Coronavirus, actionable insight based unique brand strategy, content development and the process for reaching out to patients, doctors and other health care consumers, I consider, will decide the degree of business success.
Some focus areas for ‘actionable insights’ in the changing scenario:
Although, ‘actionable insights’ would help strategize a whole new chain of activities for increasing ‘prescription demand generation,’ some of these areas, for example, may include:
- Capturing changes in patients’ behavior and preferences, specifically during the national ‘Lockdown’ period, besides, ‘compliance to social-distancing’ norms.
- New ways of regrouping patient population, alongside, effective content creation and choosing right platforms for a sharper focus on them in the new situation.
- Doctors’ changing preferences for interacting with drug companies for the same reasons.
- Making remote prescription demand generating actions highly productive, ensuring a cutting-edge over the competition.
- Taking a quantum leap in improving the level of engagement for a greater share of mind with doctors, patients and other stakeholders, without bombarding them with ‘me-too’ emails, messages and calls.
As the ‘Lockdown. 04’ in India – the second most populous country of the world – ends, as on May 31, 2020 morning, the recorded Coronavirus cases in the country reached 182,490 with 5,186 deaths. Comparing the same with the most populous country of the world – China, where Covid-19 struck first ever – in December 2019, one finds it recording 83,001 cases with 4634 deaths, on the same day.
Be that as it may, after the national ‘Lockdown’ of about two and half months to save lives, it’s about time to restart initiatives for the livelihood of millions of Indians. Accordingly, pharma industry would also hit the restart button of its all business activities in the country – understandably, in a calibrated manner. The restart would include one of its most critical activities – generation of prescription demand, where personal selling has been pivotal in the years passed by. Several research studies have already highlighted a changing pattern in this area.
In the coming days of work while living with Covid-19, all would need to take measures to prevent the Coronavirus infection. Thus, strict compliance with the social distancing guidelines and other norms, as prescribed by the Government, will be ne necessary for all. This would also make the working life of pharma professionals, along with the practices of its stakeholders, significantly different from the traditional past.
From this perspective, while reaching for the restart button in the new normal, pharma sales and marketing leadership would need to create an innovative pathway to recovery. This would call for actionable insights about changes in the behavioral and preference pattern, especially of the healthcare consumers and providers. These will be absolutely critical for commercial success in the ‘new world,’ as it were – more than ever before.
By: Tapan J. Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.