In his opening keynote at Veeva Systems’ European commercial summit in Barcelona, the company’s president for Europe Chris Moore discussed the importance of facilitating better communication between stakeholders involved in marketing medicines.

One way to facilitate this improved engagement across the commercial side of pharma is using data and digital technologies.

Although Veeva Europe vice-president of commercial strategy Jan van den Burg noted in a roundtable briefing that “person to person communication is always going to be number one,” and you cannot completely replace sales reps with digital versions, he argued that investment in technology is what sets companies apart in the pharma industry. He said he also believes it will continue to be a significant differentiator between companies over the next few years.

Following the lead of other industries

With regard to using digital technologies and data to improve customer experience, Leo Pharma global head of commercial operations Federico Fanti notes the pharma industry needs to learn from other industries. Van den Burg gave the example of Netflix and online banking. He also added that due to the “consumerisation of technology” people now expect technology to be “easy and seamless” because this is what they are used to from the so-called ‘Facebook phenomenon’.

In his section of the opening keynote, Shinogi vice-president of digital innovation and insight Dan Atkins also spoke about the need for pharma to act more like a commercial brand and see fast, responsible service not as an add-on, but at the centre of customer engagement processes.

Practicalities of implementing digital transformation

Leo Pharma global head of commercial operations Federico Fanti notes the value that digital technology brings is primarily that it means “we can reach many, many more physicians” than previously.

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However, he warned that it not just about the quantity of interactions, but also the quality, noting it is important to tailor digital communications so you “reach the right customer at the right frequency with the right content”.

Central to this, van den Burg noted, is ensuring that the data you have on each physician is actually correct. He stated it is entirely pointless to attempt to tailor marketing to physicians when you have the wrong information, such as the wrong speciality or educational background.

Data harmonisation is a big focus for Veeva, as only through making data consumable for different stakeholders can the company drive intelligence engagement, Veeva general manager of commercial products Arno Sosna emphasised in the conference’s product keynote.

A snapshot of Veeva’s new intelligent engagement tools

During the product keynote, Sosna and vice-president of product management in Europe and Latin America Povilas Petkevicius spoke about the new intelligent engagement products in the Veeva Customer Relationship Management (CRM) product suite.

These include CRM Approved Notes and Dynamic Attributes to better capture notes and other unstructured information from field representatives on the CRM platform, which can be monitored and are compliant, thus bringing more flexibility to the platform.

In addition, Veeva has collaborated with its long-term product partner Salesforce to integrate the latter’s Lightning technology into CRM to support the system’s computer-based capabilities – Veeva’s CRM has been designed primarily for mobile. This product was also the highlight of Veeva Europe senior vice-president of commercial strategy David Logue’s presentation in the opening keynote.

The joint vendor proposition of lightning business apps for CRM is predicted to bring efficiencies to multiple commercialisation roles and will be rolled out in February 2020; early-stage pilots are underway currently.

Although Logue noted that Veeva is committed to developing the best products in every category three times a year, Sosna emphasised the importance of partnerships with other vendors to creating seamless engagement with healthcare professionals in commercialising pharma products; intelligent engagement is not a single vendor endeavour.