DigiStorm 2018: Intent, Content, Strategy and Skills

The pharma industry in India is entering a very interesting variant of the post-digital marketing era. The term “post-digital marketing” is used to depict a state where the lines between physical and digital blur considerably for a customer. However, in the context of pharma, this means a state where the industry has stopped questioning the need for digital and has begun to implement very interesting digital marketing initiatives.

DigiStorm has always been about practising managers sharing their successes and failures and the lessons learned from them, than about theory and concepts.

At DigiStorm 2018 in Bengaluru, the sessions were lined up to explore how pharma is dealing with the post-digital marketing world. DigiStorm has always been about practising managers sharing their successes and failures and the lessons learned from them, than about theory and concepts. Built on a framework of Intent, Content, Strategy and Skills – DigiStorm hosted several CEOs, VPs, BU heads and Marketing/Sales heads who not only shared their experiences on the dais but also comprised the large audience that benefited from the discussions.

Competing Successfully in the Digital Economy

Following on from the highly interactive and eventful CEO Round Table which established the need for top-down engagement and involvement of the C-suite in an organization’s journey into technology and transformation, the second session dealt with VP-Marketing and BU Heads discussing their ‘on-the-ground’ experiences in taking the CEO’s vision forward in terms of execution.

Very interesting cases came to the fore with MVSMA Raja – Vice President Marketing and Portfolio discussing the super successful Medznate website created by Dr. Reddy’s for health care professionals (HCPs) in Russia. With the country being the largest market for Dr. Reddy’s outside the US, the focus was on serving HCP needs and keeping them front-and-centre of all strategy.

The opportunity: HCPs in Russia didn’t understand English and therefore couldn’t be as up to date with scientific literature as they liked to be.

The execution: A very simple message board type website that was focused on providing medical updates translated to Russian. There are no bells and whistles here and the execution is clean and focused. No mention of DRL, brands or any product messages that can dilute the focus.

The target: HCPs that treat pain

The outcome: DRL became the #1 company in Rxs in the pain category.

The ROI: Equivalent of hiring 100 medical reps which will go up to 3000 reps in the next few years.

Similarly, Amit Bhakri – BU Head, Cardiovascular spoke about how AstraZeneca used technology in creating social benefits in the respiratory business.

In Australia, the pharma company used technology to monitor patients’ use of inhaler therapy and to provide personalised advice to patients based on their condition and medication use.

Future developments of the technology could see additional sensors added to it to assist with patient monitoring and, potentially, to assess a patient’s personalised risk factors. 

Dr. Karthik Anantharaman – BU Head for Diabetes, Biocon and Amlesh Ranjan – Deputy Director, Specialty Business, Sanofi India also spoke of various ways in which digitally-led projects were being rolled out.

While the companies were diverse (Dr. Reddy’s, AstraZeneca, Biocon and Sanofi India), a common thread ran through all the cases presented. All the cases were developed keeping customers at the core of these activities.

These organizations also took 4 simple steps to bring in the transformation:

What the panellists described was that through a clever mix of experimentation (through the existing structure) and innovation (with the new one), their organizations got used to doing things better as well as doing better things. It took a lot of effort to overcome organizational inertia, to re-orient and re-calibrate and to pull oneself away from engulfing yet mundane activity. Some quick and early successes were necessary to help to set the mood to adopt new practices.

It is only through constant experimentation and attempts – by getting the Intent, Content, Strategy and Skills right, will the industry embrace the post-digital marketing era in the way it is meant to.


About Salil Kallianpur

Salil Kallianpur is Executive Editor at MedicinMan and Principal Consultant - Digital Transformation Lab. He has worked in senior roles at Dr. Reddy's, Novartis, Pfizer and GSK.