Competition: The Heat is On - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Competition: The Heat is On


Pharmaceutical Executive


WILLIAM LOONEY: What tools are most useful in analyzing the competitive landscape? How is the competitive intelligence function at your companies evolving to meet the challenges to the business model?

PASCHELES: There are many tools we apply. A particularly effective one is the "war game," [though] we prefer to call it "competitive simulation." This is being deployed more extensively, even continuing beyond product launch to periodically throughout the product life cycle. Successful companies are doing it at least once a year for each of their major brands.

NORMAN: At Pfizer we are making these reviews more strategic and using them to trace the evolution of healthcare. As for the competitive intelligence function, it is being integrated more fully into our market analytics work stream. We also share this perspective across the business units and among the executive leadership team, so that the big picture relating to our competitors is not obscured.

SNYDERMAN: A competitive simulation should not be a one-time exercise timed only to a product launch. When everyone on the team is doing this for the first time it becomes just another form of information exchange. Simulations have to be built into the marketing process and conducted repeatedly, every three to six months. Practice makes perfect. A good feedback loop for the findings also counts:you must have buy-in from the people at the top to execute the results.

DALY: Competitive intelligence and simulations have to become part of the competitor's DNA. This in turn entails taking the wraps off people being able to pose tough questions and not taking a hit for it. This may require a change in the culture of Big Pharma.

NORMAN: A fair point, in that we have yet to talk at all about the internal competitive environment. When you are divided into business units someone has to raise tough questions around how strategies separate and align and finding the necessary balance between them.

DALY: The reality is your fiercest competitor may be down the hall, rather than in another company. In some ways it can be the worst kind of competition, something that is destructive rather than healthy.

WILLIAM LOONEY: Let's conclude with some comments on the "end state." Where do each of you see the competition climate evolving over the next three to five years?

BERNARD: Companies will experience greater competitive intensity, similar to that seen in other mature industries such as electronics and airlines. We will see fewer differentiated products, more pricing pressure from generics, and additional industry consolidation. Successful pharma companies will be those that embed a competitive mentality and conduct competitive training for their professionals, across all functions. Companies spend millions on educating the sales rep while virtually nothing is devoted to other functional activities that must respond to these competitive pressures.

SHARMA: It's pointless to predict the future; what is necessary instead is managing the future that is already here. Information technology is an example. Any company that anticipates this transition and comes up with a solution geared to the needs of a customer will be a strong competitor.

NORMAN: The company that can stretch beyond providing the pill to offer real solutions—in real time, to real people—will carry the advantage.

PASCHELES: A global mindset is synonymous with competitive awareness. Those companies that expand medicine's access in growth markets of the developing world will find themselves a step ahead of the competition.

DALY: A strong corporate culture will trump strategy every time. You must attract, sustain, and retain your management talent base. Because competition is so opaque and the future is so uncertain, the only reliable mainstay is your people.

COLES: The important thing is to make sure it is your own company that is doing some of the "disrupting" we talked about today. Competition over the next few years will be driven by who can best focus on individual need in healthcare—where it's "all about me"—and the application of new technologies to get closer to the customer.

SNYDERMAN: Awareness of the value of peripheral vision will help in coping with intensified competition. While everyone else is fixated on their standard metrics, data, and indicators, it's the people who start looking for those odd little things that come in from the outside that will change the industry dynamic.


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