What Have And Haven’t Changed In Pharma’s New Normal?

While navigating through the challenge of disruptive changes, several pharma marketers are now focusing more on creating, connecting, and leveraging all market and customer related data, across the organization. Astute ones are using state-of-the-art tools, platforms, and techniques to gain actionable insights on new demands of pharma markets. I wrote about it in my article - ‘Data: the new ‘Magic Wand’ For Pharma Business Excellence,’ published in this blog on October 01, 2018.

This process is helping them to fathom what areas the pandemic has changed and what it hasn’t. Their aim is to draw cutting-edge strategies accordingly for market effectiveness – outperforming competition. This article will explore that space with contemporary examples. Let me start with a few illustrations of some hits and misses for the treatment of Covid – as the world started learning to live with this menacing virus. This was enviable, as the requisite scientific date wasn’t readily available at that moment of truth. But the time has changed now.

Some hits and misses:

As the pandemic overwhelmed the world, and no well-documented treatment for infection caused by the brand new virus – Covid-19 was available, many drug players were given quick emergency approval by country regulators for some repurposed drugs. But most of those weren’t found effective as fresh clinical data started pouring in. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO), have, reportedly, indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.

More recently, Gilead Sciences Veklury – a failed Ebola drug, repurposed for hospitalized Covid-19 patients, suddenly became a blockbuster drug, according to a September 17, 2021 report. However, in less than a year, alongside more research data - a study from Europe, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, showed that Veklury has no real benefit. The report also highlights: ‘Aided by a ringing endorsement from then-president Donald Trump, Veklury rang up sales of $2.8 billion in 2020, including $1.9 billion in the final quarter. But those sales slid this year to $1.5 billion in the first quarter followed by $829 million in the second quarter.’

Similarly, there are several areas that are seemingly getting transformed, triggered by the pandemic and the time for resorting to a hit or miss approach, is now virtually over. From pharma marketers’ point of interest, it will now be at one’s own peril for not challenging the pre-Covid business traditions, rules, and well-tried strategies on customer relationships and brand building models. This brings us to the question on what specifically have changed in the new normal as the pharma industry navigates thorough the Covid pandemic – for close to two years now.  

Pandemic-triggered changes in the pharma marketing area:

Changes are many and are being studied across the world. One such recent analysis, articulating how the pandemic triggered changes have redefined marketing, was published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), on March 10, 2021. This paper came more than a year after the pandemic overwhelmed the world. This article listed some interesting macro-level changes, including the following:

  • Old normal: You are competing with your competitors.
  • New normal: You are competing with the last best experience your customer had.
  • Old normal: Customers hope you have what they want.
  • New normall: Customers expect you to have exactly what they want.
  • Old normal: Courting customers is just like dating.
  • New normal: Courting customers is just like online dating.
  • Old normal: Customers must sit at the heart of your marketing strategy.
  • New normal: Customers must sit at the heart of your customer journey.
  • Old normal: Agility is a technology process.
  • New normal: Agility is a modern marketing approach.
  • Old normal: Your brand should stand behind great products.
  • New normal: Your brand should stand behind great values.

To illustrate the point, let me now give a few examples of some micro-level changes in the same space.

Some transformation trends:

I am citing a few examples related to pharma’s traditional sales and marketing models. One such area is, quite a few companies are adopting connected data based and analytics-supported Omnichannel approach for customer engagement. The key objective is to deliver coherent and high-quality customer experience.

The need for new commercial models for the changing life sciences market, was also highlighted in an interesting article, published in the Pharmaceutical Executive on September 16, 2021. The authors identified six health care macro trends, demonstrating the value of transforming care delivery and shifting market behavior that prompt to reframe customer value propositions.

Taking a cue from this paper, I am listing below some of the current trends – as I see these and wrote before in this blog. Each one of these calls for well-connected data with analytics support:

  • Fostering a new genre of ‘customer-brand relationship’ to drive more targeted go‑to‑market strategies, enhanced agility/mobility of resources and highly personalized customer interactions.
  • Meeting the growing demand for value‑based care with novel risk‑adjusted and outcome‑based Price-Value-Models, supported by ongoing innovation in this area and sophisticated approach to value, affordability and outcomes.

Interestingly, despite Herculean constraints, many pharma players continued creating and delivering value, as the customers were expecting with changing situations.  

Drug-price sensitivity is increasing:

In the new normal, drug price sensitivity of customers is increasing manifold, for various reasons. A June 18, 2020 study, flags: ‘Nine in 10 Concerned About Rising Drug Costs Due to COVID-19.’ Although, this particular study (Gallup Poll) was conducted in the United States, general public apprehension is no different in other parts of the world, including India.

In my article of September 14, 2020, I also wrote that the concept of ‘fair pricing a drug’ is being deliberated by many experts around the world, since quite some time, till today. But it continues. Most recently, as reported on September 22, 2021, for different reasons related to its new Alzheimer’s drug - Aduhelm, including its hefty price tag of $56,000 annually per patient, ‘Biogen reps banned from D.C.-area neurology clinics.’

Regardless of such customer reactions, the pharma industry, as reported on September 17, 2021, continues to advocate – drug pricing pressure will stifle innovation, blocking patient access to needed medicines and dry up investment in important R&D on new therapies. Curiously, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), is spending more than $1 million on TV ads as part of a massive lobbying and communications campaign emphasizing the potential harm to patients seeking cures for deadly diseases, as the report highlights.

Innovation – remained mostly unhindered from old to new normal:

Customers’ expectations can’t be ignored indefinitely. Interestingly, the world has also witnessed it with Covid drug and vaccine innovation continuing even during the most trying times during the pandemic, even in India. It is, therefore, quite understandable why unfettered access to drug innovation is considered an oxymoron, by many.

The good news is, despite shrill voices over pricing measures, the quest for adding meaningful value to the healthcare space continues unhindered. As reported on September 19, 2021, both Pfizer and Merck are advancing oral antiviral candidates targeting Covid-19 into late-stage testing. Thus, I reckon, regardless of jarring noise from pharma lobbyists, drug innovation, willy-nilly, has to satisfy the diverse demand of health care customers.

Innovation needs to satisfy demands of diverse healthcare customers:

That, increasingly, drug innovations will need to be based on their ability to satisfy the demands of life sciences companies’ diverse customer-perceived value-based, was also echoed by the Pharmaceutical Executive article of September 16, 2021.

While doing so, companies will need to structure innovation in terms of health outcomes, affordability, and personalization, as the paper emphasized. It further added, ‘broader definition of innovation means products are no longer the central driver of value.’ Instead, innovation will be powered by an increasingly diverse stream of data that resides outside the confines of the traditional health ecosystem.

Covid pandemic accelerated the transition of this process of innovation, drawing its new focus on providing a seamless and holistic customer experience in the disease treatment process – supported by advanced analytics and this deeper understanding of customer segments.


Many pharma marketers have possibly undertaken a sophisticated and credible market scanning exercise in the new normal, to assess by themselves what have or haven’t changed in their customer preferences and market dynamics. If not, I would encourage them to initiate it, at least, now.

Equally noteworthy, as the above HBR article wrote, in the post pandemic period: ‘Beyond geography, marketing messages need to be personally relevant, aligned to an individual’s situation and values, as opposed to demographics, such as age and gender.’

The objective is to create a personal connection between the customer and the brand promotional content, aiming to influence the prescribing and purchasing behavior, based on their psychographic to attitudinal characteristics. This process would require creating and screening lots of customized data, supported by sophisticated analytics.

From the above perspective, I reckon, deep insight on what have or haven’t changed in the healthcare environment alongside its customers, would be of fundamental importance for pharma marketers, in the new normal.

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.

Aptness Of Pharma Marketing Audit In Covid Days And Beyond

That, Covid-19 pandemic has changed the operational dynamics of many areas of the pharma industry, as compared to the old normal, is being felt by many. These changes generally fall into two categories. Some are broad industry specific changes, giving rise to a new normal. Whereas, a lot more could often be specific changes required by individual companies in the changing times – depending on how these companies were operating in pre-Covid days. The good news is, the industry specific ones are being well deliberated by many domain experts, almost on an ongoing basis.

Most experts are suggesting digital solutions, for a number of problem areas in the pharma industry as a whole. But, the reality is, for rapid adaptation of the new normal, there is also a crucial need to dovetail the Company specific solutions, with the industry specific generic ones. This effort will call for effective use of robust, well-structured and time-tested systems. However, not as many discussions seem to be taking place in this area, as on date.

As I see around, one such comprehensive and well proven approach is ‘Marketing Audit’. This can be effectively used to ascertain Company specific changes, required for successful pharma business operation during the Coronavirus triggered paradigm shift. It may not sound as zesty as a ‘digital approach,’ but remains fundamentally important for pharma marketers, nonetheless.

In this article, I shall discuss the relevance and the key importance of a comprehensive pharma Marketing Audit, in this trying time for business. Its key purpose is to give shape to a cutting-edge strategy in today’s unfamiliar order. Let me begin with a brief background of the same, for better understanding of all.

Marketing Audit demonstrated its perennial importance over decades:

To put it in perspective, let me refer to a landmark article by Philip Kotler, titled ‘‘The Marketing Audit Comes of Age.’ It was published by the MIT Sloan Management Review, on January 15, 1989. In his review of the need for Marketing Audit, one can get a sense of perennial importance of Marketing Audit, proven over decades.

In Kotler’s own words: ‘The marketing audit as an idea, dates back to the early 1950s.’ An executive at Booz Allen & Hamilton, conducted marketing audits as early as 1952. Its importance of improving business results, was captured by an excellent set of papers under the title ‘Analyzing and Improving Marketing Performance,’ published by the American Management Association, in 1959.  

Covid-19 Surveys highlight general trends, not any Company specific:

We all are witnessing these days, how the Coronavirus pandemic is changing the pharma consumers. In my June 22, 2020 article in this blog on ‘Enhancing Pharma Brand Experience in The New Normal,’ I highlighted some of the basic changes required in the traditional pharma sales and marketing practices.’ These were the generic changes in the marketplace involving the stakeholders. To illustrate this point better, let me cite some recent examples.

The pandemic has suddenly accelerated certain trends:

The lockdowns have brought to the fore certain shortcomings of the pharma industry, more than ever before. Consequently, its serious fallout compelled almost all players ‘to evaluate and adapt its roles and responsibilities almost overnight.’ This point was captured in the ‘Survey results: Accelerating digital transformation during COVID-19,’ published by Reuters Events– Pharma on September 04, 2020. Some of the survey findings included the following:

  • Although, adoption of digital engagement has accelerated, pharma’s ability to deliver exceptional virtual engagement and content is being put to test.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Content Management Systems (CMS) and customer engagement platforms were found wanting and not fully exploited.
  • There will be a greater emphasis on the Connected healthcare customer journey.
  • Providing a unique customer experience will emerge as a competitive edge.
  • The industry must re-direct resources accordingly, and re-tool to make the most of them.

Let’s now examine some India specific findings from another survey in this space.

Some India specific survey findings:

To explore the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, another survey, conducted by C Com Digital of India, came out with some interesting findings, some of which are as follows:

  • The new normal warrants a strategic shift in the business operation, besides engagement with doctors and patients.
  • Increasingly, drug companies are moving into online business operations from mostly offline operations of pre-Covid days.
  • Many companies are considering dedicating about 5 percent to 10 percent of their marketing budget towards creating webinars and online communications.
  • Teleconsultations and online consultations are steadily increasing and around 42 percent patients are getting their prescriptions in this way.
  • Doctor visits dropped by 5 percent only during March-April 2020 period.
  • Companies are expanding in online patient education, and online field staff training through custom made e-Learning modules.

As we find above, the emerging new trends are all generic in nature – not enough to prepare any comprehensive company specific strategy for success in the prevailing situation. This brings us to the question: What exactly is Marketing Audit and its relevance during pandemic days?

Relevance of Marketing Audit during pandemic days and beyond:

Thus, the extent of changes required on all sales and marketing related areas, during the pandemic period and beyond, has to be carefully and productively evaluated by each Company, separately. No wonder, why a comprehensive ‘Marketing Audit,’ is also considered “a marketing mirror” - so appropriately.

Without going into the theoretical details, let me first try to explain this terminology in simple terms. It has clearly been established that a Marketing Audit helps understanding, both internal and external marketing environments of an organization, in a comprehensive way. Mainly because, it involves an in-depth and data analysis of the concerned company’s business domain, not just to accurately diagnose the new areas of problems, but also to work out a contemporary – cutting edge marketing strategy.

Thus, I reckon, this tool should be effectively used by pharma marketers, as a high potential mechanism in the marketing warfare, especially during the global pandemic and beyond. Still, some can raise the question, what exactly pharma industry surveys will tell you and what those won’t, – and what gaps company specific surveys will help bridge.

The gaps that Marketing Audit will help bridge:

Industry specific surveys on Covid-19 pandemic would tell the Companies where they should aim to reach. However, each Company would still need to figure out where they currently are in those areas, and most importantly how to reach the target point. An effective Marketing Audit will help the Companies get exact information on where they currently are, and how to reach where they want to reach.

As the new normal is changing, it needs to be done periodically: 

The information obtained through a robust Marketing Audit will help address both customer and market needs – on the one hand and honing or reorganizing the company’s internal value delivery systems commensurately, on the other. However, when an unprecedented or a disruptive change, such as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps striking all conceivable entities, very hard, ‘the new normal’ keeps changing. In this situation, most of the past success ingredients will no longer yield results. Thus, to realign the business with changing market demand, pre-Covid strategic blueprint needs to be redrawn, alongside the necessary wherewithal required for the same.

Marketing Audit, therefore, becomes a periodic requirement for all organizations, assuming the importance of a key business success imperative, if not for survival in the new normal. Any delay in this area may lead to significant loss of Company business.


According to Covid-19 update of Evaluate Pharma, ‘seemingly uncontrollable advance of Covid-19 in India,’ is perturbing. As on September 20 morning, the country had recorded a staggering figure of 5,400,619 of Coronavirus cases with 86,774 deaths, overtaking Brazil the week before.

The above report points out the potential danger of ‘the country’s health care system to buckle under the weight of hospital admissions for the virus.’ However disturbing this trend may be, from the pharma industry perspective, it sends, at least, four clear signals:

  • It’s a long-haul struggle for the business, as Covid-19 is not going to vanish any time soon.
  • The barriers to in-person interaction will continue for an indefinite period.
  • The market dynamics will keep changing, mostly based on Government’s new guidelines.
  • A robust, flexible, contemporary and comprehensive marketing strategy needs to be supported by stronger and time-tested marketing systems for all times.

From the above perspective, one such time-tested mechanism still remains – ‘the Marketing Audit.’ For business excellence during Covid times, it carries a game changing potential, by dovetailing the industry specific generic problems with company specific strategic solutions.

The criticality of ‘Marketing Audit’ does not remain limited just to bright pharma marketers. It also provides an equally critical top management decision support tool, especially for risk-benefit analysis of the corporate business. Thus, relevance and importance of ‘Marketing Audit’, would remain undiluted, not just during the Covid pandemic – but much beyond.

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.

Global Pharmaceutical Industry: Capturing the micro-trends, having potential to become future mega-trends.

The situation:Almost the entire developed world is reeling under recession… Slowed down business growth… Gradual drying up of research pipeline… Skyrocketing R&D cost… Pressure on product price …Market capitalization going south… Cut throat market competition… Depressed business sentiments…Past M&As are no longer yielding desired results… Global pharmaceutical companies are to lose nearly US$100 billionin sales as many blockbuster drugs are set to go off-patent over the next five years. Sounds quite like a dooms day! No, in my view, the industry including in India, is going through a transformation process. Is any trend emerging through this process? Yes, of course. Let us now try to capture these micro-trends, which have a potential to become tomorrow’s mega-trends.The response:

Before we delve into that, let us see how the global pharmaceutical industry has been responding to such a situation during this trying time. A strong instinct of survival, in such a situation, will undoubtedly prevail. This instinct is driving some of the large companies, with reasonably deep pocket, towards consolidation. This is happening through mergers, acquisitions and even through hostile takeovers.

Globally, from 2008 to date about 58 mergers and acquisitions have taken place, mega, big or small. Amid the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. and Roche Holding AG could raise a mindboggling amount of US $155 billion to expand and survive in their business.

This month Merck & Co acquired Schering Plough for US$41.1 billion in a cash-and-stock deal that will create the second largest pharmaceutical company in the USA. Richard Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Merck said that the merged company would benefit from the rich R&D pipeline, a significantly broader product portfolio and a wider presence in the global markets.

Besides enriching R&D pipeline and achieving substantial revenue synergy, the merged entity is expected to achieve significant cost synergy of about US$ 3.5 billion by 2011. This deal comes just six weeks after Pfizer Inc swallowed up Wyeth for a record US$68 billion. This move of Pfizer’s is not only expected to enlarge its product portfolio, but also to significantly reduce its dependence on Lipitor, which goes off-patent in 2011.

Just after these, Roche clinched a deal to acquire 44% of Genentech Inc with US$ 46 billion. In 2008 almost 75% of Pharmaceuticals sales of Roche were contributed by the products brought in from Genentech stable. This signifies the importance of acquisition of Genentech by Roche.

Will the M&A strategy be viable in the longer term?

All these companies are basically looking for various avenues to tide over the impending crisis, especially in their R&D pipeline by acquiring other suitable companies. However, looking at the past records, it appears that many of these mega mergers may not fetch a sustainable longer term gain. Insatiable desire to merge or acquire another company for various reasons, keep coming back to these companies after a little while, once again. Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi Aventis etc will stand as good examples. Some believe that merging just for the sake of width and depth of the R&D pipeline could have its underlying risks, as business compulsion of two different research cultures to come together may cause a serious adverse impact on ‘the climate of innovation’. Such a congenial environment very often plays a critical role in the process of discovery of breakthrough drugs. Probably because of this reason many questioned whether Genentech’s productive R&D culture can flourish under Roche’s full control.

Let me now deliberate on emerging micro-trends in the global pharmaceutical industry. All these micro-trends, in my view, are having potential to get transformed into mega-trends in not too distant future.

Micro-trend 1: Reorganization of large R&D set-ups into smaller units to foster innovation.

Despite creating large R&D set-up through mega mergers, we have also witnessed that some pharmaceutical majors like, GSK, are reorganizing the large R&D set-ups into smaller units to foster innovation, under the leadership of Andrew Witty, the current CEO. This strategy is expected to reap rich harvest.

Micro-trend 2: From concentrating exclusively on innovative medicines to expansion into low risk generic medicines.

Not so long ago Global R&D companies focused only the business of innovative prescription medicines. Low margin generic business was not their cup of tea. Today the scenario has made a 180 degree shift. Low risk, low cost and high volume turnover of generic business is now attracting many R&D based companies.

We are now witnessing another model of mergers and acquisitions, which was pioneered by Novartis some time back. An increasing number of companies are planning to spread their business in less risky generics pharmaceutical businesses. This business model will not require going through lengthy R&D and ever increasing stringent regulatory approval process for their entire product portfolio, in the developed markets of the world. Following this business model Daiichi Sankyo acquired Ranbaxy, in India. Sanofi-Aventis is in the process of acquiring the generic company of Eastern Europe, Zentiva. GSK acquired Pakistan operations of Bristol Myers Squibb, other generic business in South Africa and Egypt and mature products business of UCB in some selected markets of the world. Pfizer has also recently made somewhat similar move in India by entering into a strategic alliance with Aurobindo drugs for sourcing generic formulations for their global markets.

Micro-trend 3: From only prescription medicine business to businesses like, OTC, Nutrition, Diagnostics, Animal Health products, to reduce the business risk.

Some research based companies are now trying to somewhat insulate themselves from high risk R&D business by focusing on, besides generics, other low risk areas like, over the counter medicines (OTC), nutrition products, diagnostics, animal health businesses etc. Companies like, GSK, Pfizer, Roche will be good examples for such strategy.

Micro-trend 4: From sharp business focus mainly on top 10 markets of the world to extension of focus on key emerging markets of the world.

Not so long ago, large multinational companies (MNCs) used to have major focus on top 10 markets of the world. Now a days many of these companies are extending their business focus on emerging markets, like, India, Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey, Mexico etc, which are riding high on a very strong growth curve, unlike USA, Europe or Japan.

In these markets to gain a critical mass, the MNCs will need to enter the generic business and the best way to do it is by acquiring a good generic company. For this reason, in India we may soon start witnessing MNCs acquiring large to mid-size domestic Indian pharmaceutical companies. Daiichi Sankyo has just shown the way by acquiring Ranbaxy in India. This process has not started in full swing, as yet, probably because of expected very high valuation for their respective companies, by the Indian promoters following Ranbaxy deal.

Micro-trend 5: Gradual shift in R&D focus from infectious to chronic to preventive (vaccines) to personalized medicines.

Global pharmaceutical industry got a head start with the innovative drugs to treat infectious diseases. It gained growth momentum by changing its R&D focus on non-infectious chronic disease areas. We now observe a micro-trend to move towards preventive therapy like vaccines even for cervical cancer. With the emergence of stem cell research in the USA and with the rapid progress of RNAi technology, very soon we may enter into the area of personalized medicines, as well. Thus, in my view preventive and personalized medicines will be the high growth pharmaceutical business of future. At that time, the pharmaceutical business model will change significantly though, to adapt to the changing business environment.

Is the era of Blockbuster drugs over?

Let me now reiterate that contrary to the belief of many, future R&D pipelines of the global pharmaceutical companies are not too dry, either. I am not in agreement with many pontificating that the future of blockbuster drugs is over. Published reports indicate that 581 primary-care driven NCEs covering disease areas like, Central Nervous System (CNS), Cardiovascular, Vaccines, Respiratory, Anti-infective etc, are currently in Phase I and Phase II stages. Similarly 637 specialist-care driven NCEs covering disease areas like, Oncologics, Autoimmune agents, HIV, Immunostimulants, Alzheimer, Immunosuppressive etc, are also in phase II and Phase III clinical trial stages. Altogether 1218 NCEs are currently in Phase II and Phase III stages of clinical trial.

Indian Pharmaceutical Companies – are they in a dilemma?

In sharp contrast to prevailing scenario in the global pharmaceutical industry, in India, after a paradigm shift to a new IPR regime, the domestic pharmaceutical industry seems to be in a great dilemma, to some extent they seem to be in a state of identity crisis. Many domestic companies seem to be getting too overawed by the change in their ‘reverse engineering’ business model, as a fuel for growth.

At this stage, it is very important for all these companies to appropriately change their business model based on their competitive strength and quickly adapt to the new paradigm. Instead of considering the research based global companies as competitors, they should look at them as potential collaborators for various outsourcing opportunities; starting from contract research, contract manufacturing to contract marketing, as well. Why not?

Need to move from fragmentation to consolidation for leveraging the business growth:
Indian pharmaceutical industry is now highly fragmented. This is the high time to move away from fragmentation to consolidation, which will help the domestic pharmaceutical industry to attain adequate scale to invest significantly in their well considered business model to fuel the growth engine.

India is making progress in pharmaceutical R&D:

In India some domestic pharmaceutical companies have made significant progress towards R&D output. Published information indicates that Biocon, Piramal Healthcare, Glenmark, Ranbaxy and Suven Life Sciences have between them 45 NCEs. Most of these fall under oncology, infectious, metabolic and respiratory disease areas. Out of these 19 NCEs are in pre-clinical and the balance are in Phase I& Phase II clinical trial stages.

To sum-up, I witness the following micro-trends globally, which we should keep tracking with interest:

 Reorganization of large R&D set-ups into smaller units to foster innovation.

 From concentrating exclusively on innovative medicines to expansion into low risk generic

 From only prescription medicine business to businesses like, OTC, Nutrition, Diagnostics, Animal
Health products, to dilute the business risk.

 From sharp business focus mainly on top 10 markets of the world to extension of focus on key
emerging markets of the world.

 Gradual shift in R&D focus from infectious to chronic to preventive (vaccines) to personalized


By Tapan 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.