Pharma CMO? Meet your CIO--and start working together already

Pharma marketing chiefs and IT executives don't see eye-to-eye, according to a new survey, and the lack of rapport could keep drugmakers from taking advantage of new digital marketing techniques.

To gauge IT and marketing collaboration--or lack thereof--Accenture polled 22 chief information officers (CIOs) and 24 chief marketing officers (CMOs) from international pharma companies with at least $5 billion in annual revenues. Most of the CIOs think their companies need more collaboration between marketing and IT departments. But two-thirds of pharma's CMOs don't think working with IT is strategically important.

That's a glaring departure from other industries where CMOs and CIOs are playing nice. The insurance industry, for example, only shows a 3% divide in CMOs and CIOs' willingness to collaborate.

The results didn't surprise Accenture's senior managing director of life sciences, Anne O'Riordan. The rift between pharma CMO and CIOs is "steeped in history," O'Riordan told FiercePharmaMarketing.

Anne O'Riordan

In the past, traditional marketers produced paper materials internally and information chiefs would work directly with sales teams. But now, sales depend on multiple techniques--and multiple channels--presenting more challenges for marketers and IT officers who want to use the changes to their advantage.

O'Riordan compared the shift to that of the music industry. Ten years ago, CDs were distributed but companies had no way of tracking who the product went to or when. Now, new technologies make it easier to see who is downloading a song, making it easier to target a specific demographic.

"That level of digitalization has not yet happened in the pharma industry but we're going to go through it now in the next few years," O'Riordan said. "We feel there has to be a clear strategy on where people are going, what they want out of their marketing programs and data."

CIOs and CMOs have different ideas on how to work together. IT execs see Big Data and analytics as key tools for drug marketers to use; marketing chiefs have other priorities. For instance, CMOs would like to work with IT to focus on patients and their experiences with a brand.

And it's no wonder that pharma CIOs and CMOs don't agree on how they should work together. Sixty-seven percent of CMOs simply do not see IT as a strategic partner. Less than half of pharma IT employees understand marketing goals and objectives, according to the survey.

As a result, fewer than one in three CMOs feel prepared to use data-fueled digital marketing, and only a little over half of CIOs say they're ready to leverage the new marketing technology.

Taking advantage of data analytics will require a multitiered approach from CIOs and CMOs, with techniques rated highly by both parties coming into play, O'Riordan told FiercePharmaMarketing. Companies need to focus on an individual's experience with a product, not only to satisfy the patient, but also to show payers the results. Pharma marketers can also focus their IT agendas to make the most of analytics, marketing directly to particular consumers rather than concentrating on the drug itself.

"We've had some clients who have gone through creating patient-centric teams and changed their systems so people are focused on what they can do to make a patient's life better rather than getting a product to market," O'Riordan said. "It's getting to know what your patients need, allowing for personalized experience if you're doing it right."

- read the survey highlights (PDF)

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