Automation and Beyond for Sales and Marketing in Life Sciences – with Mark Miller of Deloitte

Riya Pahuja

Riya covers B2B applications of machine learning for Emerj - across North America and the EU. She has previously worked with the Times of India Group, and as a journalist covering data analytics and AI. She resides in Toronto.

Automation and Beyond
for Sales and Marketing
in Life Sciences-1

This interview analysis is sponsored by Deloitte and was written, edited, and published in alignment with our Emerj sponsored content guidelines. Learn more about our thought leadership and content creation services on our Emerj Media Services page.

Healthcare and life sciences leaders are actively seeking opportunities to streamline processes through automation, with a particular focus on workflows within sales and marketing divisions. Emerging frameworks emphasize the importance of customer-centric strategies when considering automation initiatives.

A simple definition for customer centricity as applied in a pharmaceutical industry context — and given by a November 2021 study published in the academic publication International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing — involves placing the customer at the center of all enterprise operations and interactions. From a vantage point of customer centricity, the study identifies where pharmaceutical providers consistently make the biggest difference by focusing on the customer’s needs, challenges, and aspirations within therapy areas and patient care.

As with so much of the AI revolution across industries and the broader global culture, none of these findings reveal substantively new trends to industry insiders. It just makes their insights less exclusive to a small group of collected individuals. Other studies from as early as 2010 found that life sciences firms can align sales representatives’ workflows with customers’ needs to meet evolving expectations with now AI-integrated CRM systems and patient portals. 

Nearly 15 years later, use cases across life sciences sectors show that pharma brands embracing the same customer centricity with these technologies significantly differentiates their offering from competitors across many markets. Among the AI-enabled strategic differentiators these brands and able to wield includes the ability to deliver personalized experiences that add significant value for their customers, leading to positive business outcomes and sustained growth.

Emerj CEO and Head of Research Daniel Faggella recently hosted Mark Miller, Managing Director of Life Science Advertising in Marketing & Commerce at Deloitte, on the ‘AI in Business’ podcast about these new strategic differentiators for pharma firms.

Together, the pair examined a few such use cases showcasing the benefits of a customer-centric mindset in leveraging innovative generative AI-based capabilities to enhance operational efficiency and engagement strategies throughout pharmaceutical sales and marketing spaces.

The following analysis of their conversation examines two key insights:

  • Sequential approach to audience engagement: A framework for adopting a sequential approach involving online behavioral data and micro-segmentation, followed by channel and content optimization with coordination of sequence and frequency for effective audience engagement and sustained impact.
  • Driving customer centricity metrics from behavioral data: The essentials for adopting a customer-centric mindset as an organization by leveraging real-time behavioral data in innovative generative AI-based solutions.

Listen to the full episode below:

GuestMark Miller, Managing Director in Life Science Advertising, Marketing & Commerce, Deloitte

Expertise:  Analytics, Integrated Marketing

Brief Recognition: Mark is the Managing Director for Life Science Advertising in Marketing & Commerce at Deloitte. He has previously worked with Symphony Health Solutions and Rutgers University. He earned his bachelor’s in Science and Marketing from the University of Cape Town in 1990 and his MBA in Statistics from Baruch College in 2000.

Sequential Approach to Audience Engagement

Mark opens his podcast appearance by discussing the challenges pharmaceutical companies face given the complexities of the life sciences industry. He emphasizes the need for personalized and engaging communication with potential customers, encouraging the executive podcast audience to “engage with them through channels that they engage with already to deliver on-point messages, informational content, and to engage in a style that they want.”

Mark underscores that the focus should be on building genuine relationships through dialogue, delivering relevant content, and prioritizing the end customer’s needs. He further emphasizes the importance of clearly defined business questions and leveraging use cases that significantly impact the business and the customers. The focus should be on solving specific problems, such as health and wellness or disease management programs for patients. 

He mentions an example of Novo Nordisk’s Diabetes Program as a case where educational services are provided to diabetes patients. The critical point is to avoid overwhelming patients with too many options and excessive content. Instead, Mark notes a need to understand individual patient needs, reach them through appropriate networks, and deliver relevant content consistently over time. 

The challenge for pharmaceutical companies then, Mark tells the podcast audience, is to shift from seeking short-term impacts to building and maintaining long-term relationships with patients throughout their conditions, spanning years. The focus is on providing ongoing support and assistance rather than addressing immediate concerns.

Mark also discusses a specific capability within the pharmaceutical industry, known as “next best engagement.” This capability involves leveraging connected data and decision algorithms to engage more effectively with healthcare professionals. The engagement methods include face-to-face interactions, virtual engagement, email, and various marketing channels including TV, print, point of care, and digital display advertising.

Mark then emphasizes the challenge of understanding audiences in new ways. He lays out a sequential flow to outline the progression of this approach.

  • Online Behavioral Data and Micro-segmentation: The process begins by harnessing fast-moving online behavioral data in a privacy-safe manner. Mark suggests using this data to gain insights through micro-segmentation, focusing on the real-time behaviors of different kinds of patients.
  • Channel Optimization: Helping patients navigate the complexities within both field and marketing channels. Companies must consider how to sequence and bundle these channels effectively to enhance engagement and communication efficiency.
  • Content Optimization: Meticulously planning of the message, the expected call-to-action, and motivational strategies. It requires a keen understanding of informational offers and creative variants to tailor content to specific audience needs.
  • Sequence, Frequency, and Cadence: Create a communication strategy where all components harmonize harmoniously for maximum impact and sustained engagement.

Even the best algorithms may only yield successful outcomes with well-defined use cases and the correct data. Thus, Mark highlights the importance of having a clear vision, the right people, and cross-functional collaboration to implement these complex engagement strategies in the pharmaceutical markets successfully.

He continues in noting the pharmaceutical industry’s reluctance to depend on external, “black box” third-party solutions for their various data-related needs. The industry prefers in-house solutions to retain ownership of the IP and the unique intelligence specific to their business. There is a concern that relying on external solutions might lead to IP sharing with other entities.

However, Mark also acknowledges the practical reality that such alliances and partnerships are essential to healthcare ecosystems, given that caretakers and patients often choose to engage with trusted resources rather than directly with pharmaceutical companies themselves:

“But if a [pharmaceutical firm] has a blueprint or rules that need to be implemented, those can be implemented on these walled gardens. But invariably, when it comes to bridging first, second, or third-party data developing bespoke decisioning solutions and activating within sales, market, and ad tech solutions like programmatic or signal detection that pharma wants to control that is a trend that we see.”

— Mark Miller, Managing Director in Life Science Advertising, Marketing & Commerce at Deloitte

Driving Customer Centricity Metrics from Behavioral Data

The conversation then turns to the importance of targeting audiences based on understanding why they behave as they do rather than just their outward characteristics or actions. Mark advocates tapping into massive and dynamic behavioral data in real-time to achieve that outcome. 

Such an approach requires sensing and responding rapidly to identify signals related to patients’ or caretakers’ journeys. Mark suggests that such a strategy demands innovative and agile solutions to keep pace with the speed of changing needs.

He then discusses the shift within successful pharmaceutical and medical technology organizations toward a customer-centric mindset. He specifically notes the effect that the ensuing strategies have on sales and marketing in life sciences. The focus is on customer experience design, engaging with audiences by delivering relevance at every touchpoint.

Mark stresses the following points for the Emerj executive audience in terms of the essentials for life sciences sector success with AI initatives:

  • Leadership and Mindset: Mark tells the Emerj executive podcast audience that successful organizations exhibit a mindset that starts from leadership and permeates throughout the company. He emphasizes influencing rather than mandating- showcasing the possibilities of customer-centric approaches.
  • Uniformity and Standardization: Mark also believes leadership should promote solutions that benefit every brand, portfolio, and region, necessitating some level of uniformity and standardization for scalability.
  • Focus on Impact: He emphasizes a focus must accompany the leadership’s soft mandate on solutions that positively impact all aspects of the organization.
  • Risk-Taking and ‘Co-opetition’: He also notes that successful implementation requires taking risks and rolling out Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) that don’t have to be perfect initially. Learning and adjusting on the fly is crucial to fostering a continuous improvement culture.

Mark stresses the significance of ‘co-opetition’ a play on words between cooperation and competition that symbolizes bringing out the best of both approaches in pharmaceutical organizations, balancing collaboration and competition among different teams. 

Emphasizing shared learnings and a collaborative mindset highlights the importance of willingly sharing successes and methodologies. Mark then tells the podcast audiences that the resulting ‘co-opetitive’ approach becomes essential for maintaining organizational energy and achieving successful outcomes across diverse teams and capability areas.

Lastly, Mark discusses the practical application of generative AI in the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting specific use cases. One example he provides involves leveraging AI for sales representatives throughout the pharmacuetical sector.

Instead of manually updating the outcomes of doctor-patient conversations in a Salesforce application, Mark suggests using GenAI to enable sales representatives to add verbal context for conversation outcomes. Doing so streamlines the outcomes process, enhances efficiency, and informs next-day recommendations by automatically categorizing and feeding updated patient information into the database. 

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