In my previous blog post, we spoke about pharmaceutical companies moving from a tactic-based marketing process to an orchestrated marketing process. The motivation for making this change is to optimize the customer experience. To achieve this goal, pharmaceutical companies have started to leverage cloud-based computing capabilities, purchase marketing automation platforms, enhance their analytic capabilities using data science and machine learning, use social media platforms, and hire digital experts from other industries, just to name a few of the changes. Yet companies still struggle to realize the value from these investments. 


Why? It’s not enough to simply invest in customer-centric capabilities. Companies also need to change how they work—specifically, they need to change how new capabilities are adopted and used. Instead of focusing on adopting and using individual capabilities in isolation, pharmaceutical companies need to develop an integrated, automated approach to marketing, which links multiple cloud-based tools into a single marketing process. However, to succeed in building an integrated, automated marketing process requires a different approach to change. Instead of focusing change efforts to teach the organization how to use each new capability—what we call point change—companies need to develop an approach to change that recognizes the interrelated, connected nature of the new cloud-based capabilities (system change). Let’s define what we mean by point change and system change.


1. Point change: This is where one capability is replaced by a newer, updated capability and change is focused on using the newer, updated capability. Examples across the industry are numerous and include:

  • Switching to a new, cloud-based marketing automation platform and training the team on how to use it
  • Using machine learning techniques to obtain customer insights, and training data scientists on the latest techniques to produce data and insights for the brand teams
  • Managing content using digital asset management tools, and training the relevant stakeholders on how to use this new capability
  • Using field suggestions and training the sales teams on how to use this capability to drive better discussions with HCPs

With each of these examples, we’re taking the new tool or capability and dropping it into the existing marketing process where nothing else has changed. Here’s a very common example: A pharmaceutical company switches from an older campaign management tool to a newer, cloud-based marketing automation tool with the hope that this new tool will enable the company to become more customer-centric. However, the process around the new tool—such as data capture speeds, the ability to integrate channels, the ability to link content, content/tactic tagging, etc.—doesn’t change. Sure, the campaign team is trained on using the new tool, but the core promotion process—even with the new tool—is basically the same as before. And if the overall process hasn’t changed, why would we expect to see significant benefits from the new tool?


What’s interesting about point change is the tendency to use this approach even when launching several, adjacent new capabilities. We see companies that are intent on launching each new capability in isolation, without fully leveraging the integration capabilities that the new technologies enable. Said another way, companies have all of the right puzzle pieces, but they struggle to put them together.


2. System change: Think of this as step No. 2 after point change. The change process doesn’t stop after each new capability is launched. Instead, change continues to occur as the organization recognizes and explicitly leverages the integration across capabilities. System change occurs when several new capabilities are launched and the entire process is redesigned to fully leverage the value of the new capabilities. This is what we’re starting to see in the industry. Take the example of a pharmaceutical company that has invested in building a data lake by launching a digital asset management tool, a cloud-based marketing automation tool, field suggestions and machine learning techniques. Each of these capabilities can be integrated and automated. To ensure that the organization is changing to fully leverage the new integrated capabilities, they’re launching a change program focused on the end-to-end solution.


Note that point change can lead to system change. That is, as companies launch a new capability, this new capability is supported by the point change process, but as more adjacent capabilities are launched, companies start to leverage the system change process.


System change, as you can imagine, is more difficult than point change, but the difficulty can be managed by “shrinking the change”: implementing the change approach in systematic steps instead of attempting to change everything in one step. We’ll break down and discuss these steps in our next post, so stay tuned.