Friday, May 18, 2012

CLM Solutions: Innovation vs. the Status Quo (Guest Post)

Today’s guest post is from Craig Sharp, Editor at Eye for Pharma, a Drug Channels sponsor. Craig interviews David Kreutter, Vice President of Global Business Analytics and Insights at Pfizer, about the company’s Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) solution

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Please contact Theo Fellgett ( or 800-814-3459 Ext. 7591) with any questions about the event or this article.

The Key to Introducing a CLM Solution? Separate Innovation from the Status Quo!
By Craig Sharp, editor, Eye For Pharma

“I think, innovation in general, and I would certainly categorize closed loop marketing in that category of an innovation effort, needs to be separated from the status quo.”

Change within any organization comes with its fair share of highs and lows; a simple software change cannot only confuse, but alienate staff who more often than not prefer comfort and familiarity over innovation. So imagine then, the level of staff engagement needed when you’re not just changing the kit, but the entire culture of your sales and marketing forces.

No one knows this more than David Kreutter, Vice President of Global Business Analytics and Insights at Pfizer, who was instrumental in rolling out the company’s CLM solution, a process which began four years ago.

David was interviewed in preparation for ‘The Future of Pharma’ Panel at this year’s SFE & Commercial Excellence USA event. Click here to download the full recording.

“We didn’t do this sequentially; we started this from a strategy perspective, a very bold vision of “how do we create fully integrated closed loop multi-channel marketing?” And I think that was a critical element.”

Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) is not a new concept, as is often the case, other industries have been using CLM solutions for years now, and even thought Pharma might have been slow on the uptake, our own industry has a good few years under its belt also.

So why then is CLM implementation still such a pertinent issue? Because the key lies not with the technical implementation but with selling the idea of “change” to the masses, or as David puts it, appealing to “hearts and minds”:

“We recognized going into it that some of the biggest hurdles were not going to be technology hurdles they were going to be change management hurdles, that the success of the program was about the hearts and the minds of the people, not the technology and the gadgets the people would be using.”

The real thorn in innovation’s side is always uncertainty. From an employee perspective, it’s often as daunting to not understand a process as it is to know nothing about it in the first place, the key is always communication and when you’re talking to a staff as sizable as Pfizer’s taking a well planned approach becomes paramount.

“We did enter this, in part based on bias but also in part based on those who went before us down the path of closed loop marketing in that, the field was going to be the biggest hurdle.”

As far as hurdles go, it would seem that whether sales were the biggest or not, they were certainly one of the loudest. Even today if you frequent pharma message boards and search for “Pfizer” and “CRM”, you’ll be met with many an angry rant posted during this period of transition by a very, very vocal minority.

“You know, there were blog streams about 'is this is equivalent of GPS on our car' and 'will Pfizer be tracking our activity on a minute-to-minute basis?' And to be perfectly honest I think that the easiest hurdle was the field hurdle because, the field force very quickly saw that what we were providing them was a way of being even more relevant to their customers. And that of course is what they live day to day to do is to provide relative information to their customers in the most relevant manner. And they got it, they got it very quickly.”

“The hurdle that we didn’t fully anticipate was in fact the change for the marketing organization, and some of it was what I would call rational concern, (for example) were we driving additional work for our marketing organization? And as our organization as well as other organizations are becoming more lean and much more cost conscious, is the work and the cost that we’re driving value added work for our organization.”

“So that was one dynamic but then there was another dynamic that, I at least, missed completely, which was one of control. I did not anticipate any degree of resistance about 'am I fundamentally changing the role of marketing in the organization' and even worse than that 'does it change the dynamic of marketing leading the organization?' Because now, providing that level of transparency of information about what’s driving customer behaviour and what customers want takes some level of control out of the hands of the marketers.”

So in retrospect, would David have elected to approach the process differently if he were to do it again?

“I think, and this might be a good thing, in retrospect if I had realised, and the broader audience had realised, how big this effort would have been to be as successful as it is, I’m not sure we would have gone down that path at the pace that we did. Again, in retrospect I’m glad we did that because we built a very strong successful foundation upon which we’re now building. But it did come with its share of organizational upheaval and a fair amount of effort to align the organization.”

“I think my advice here would be short and clear. Clearly carve it out, form a dedicated team, make it a dedicated effort and hold them accountable for very specific results.”

“The broader organization essentially exists to protect the status quo. This is how we do business and we’re going to drive our business the way we do it to generate our numbers. Innovation is all about disrupting the status quo. In my view if you try to implement closed loop marketing at a large scale and make it somebody’s part time effort, they’ll very quickly get sucked back into the status quo and your timelines will either just drag out longer and longer and your effort will die a slow and painful death.”

David was interviewed in preparation for ‘The Future of Pharma’ Panel at this year’s SFE & Commercial Excellence USA event. Click here to download the full recording here.

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