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Digital intelligence blog

Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools

Is pharma applying digital quickly enough?

In a guest blog, Alex Butler looks at digital changes, and how pharma can learn from other industries

The application of digital to the pharmaceutical business model, whether this be in communications, marketing, medical affairs, market research and even R&D and clinical research, has been one of the key hot topics of the last five years. The question is though, what are we trying to achieve and are we getting there quickly enough? 

if you look at almost any digital application, including every conceivable social media platform under the virtual sun, pharma has had a presence or piloted a project. Some of these have truly broken new ground and connected with customers, patients and the general public. However, many of the proxy measures placed on the growth or uptake of digital media in pharma are economic, such as the percentage of digital marketing spend, or are confusing, such as arguments over return on investment or regulation.

In truth the digital revolution is philosophical and not technological. The zero cost of publication has changed the philosophy of transparency and democratised access to information. The capacity to connect with each other across continents for zero cost has changed the whole philosophy of communication and enabled collaboration and co-production on a scale really unimaginable 20 years ago

Most people accept that the world has changed dramatically and we can see that businesses in technology, telecoms, the automotive sector and even governments themselves have struggled to truly integrate and optimise digital best practice into their organisations consistently and effectively. That is because the digital revolution is about the individual, not large powerful organisations.

Many of the challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies have been and are being faced by other sectors and industries. Although occasionally you would see non-pharma speakers at pharma conferences and events we believed that this cross fertilisation was not strong enough and was very rarely translated or made practical for the pharma professional.

Velocity on May, 23in London is trying to change that. There is a fantastic line up of speakers who will give short and punchy insights into how they have tackled some of the key questions of digital for pharma.

For example: how do IBM, seen a decade ago as a dour technology business, now create amazing user experiences that really connect with customers? How have Adobe revolutionised their marketing philosophy inspired by social technologies? How have IDEO redefined the concept and application of collaboration and co-production? How do Google see the future of digital health?

Experts will talk about how you can genuinely develop engaging and dynamic content strategy and, perhaps pertinently for pharma, how you develop relationships with new audiences such as younger people.

A high quality panel of pharma insiders and experts will then make sense of these insights in collaboration with what was formally (and at other conferences is) called the audience. Velocity will have high profile representatives from pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, J&J and Pfizer, who will apply the learning directly into the pharmaceutical context. 

I really hope you can join us in May at the Wellcome Institute in London, it promises to be a small, intimate and exciting event. Unfortunately we only have 75 tickets to make available so as the saying goes, don't leave it too late.

Alex Butler is managing director of The EarthWorks and, along with Andrew Spong and Faisal Ahmed, part of the Digitally Sick team.

• Velocity (#velocityds) will take place on Thursday 23 May, 2013 at the Wellcome Collection in London. The event will be limited to 75 delegates and there is more information on speakers, panellists and how to attend here

6th March 2013

From: Marketing

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