The life sciences industry has recognized the potential of mobile technology for well over a decade. Yet, to date, constraints due to lack of technological advancements in hardware and wireless communication infrastructure have limited innovation and compromised the essential usability of mobile solutions. From unwieldy laptops with poor battery life, to the time consuming process of booting up, many users have shunned mobile solutions.
The market began to change with the arrival of the RIM Blackberry and other smart phones, but it was the launch of the Apple iPad in 2010 that finally enabled the industry to begin to explore the very real operational and customer relationship opportunities that the mobile ecosystem could and would deliver.
The market is now awash with highly functional, lightweight tablets offering long battery life and instant-on technology, which has enabled field users to be immediately prepared to show multi-media presentations to HCPs. Almost instantaneously, the field users can maximize the short time available with the HCP. While the simplicity of the device enables them to work the tablet with ease, the graphical capabilities open the door for innovative ways of sharing information.
As a result, the vast majority of US Life Sciences companies now have a field force using tablet technology. Many, in fact, encourage their field personnel to utilize their own personal devices, leveraging improvements in security technology to deliver tablet-ready CRM technologies on these systems.
Productive Sales Force
The new mobile ecosystem — from powerful graphics and high capacity processors, to seamless 3G and Wi-Fi communications — also offers significant opportunities to improve the performance and productivity of the field force. Life sciences companies can build training solutions around the iPad to offer interactive training without sacrificing productivity.
There is also growing interest in voice navigation technology that improves productivity. From enabling call recording — to the automated creation of emails — voice technology offers huge opportunities for reducing manual overhead, allowing the field force to spend more time undertaking productive, timely and relevant customer interactions.
Field managers can also maximize effectiveness and collaboration by combining real time access of performance figures with online interaction with under-performing representatives.
But this is just the start. Pharmaceutical companies now have the chance, not only to significantly enhance the productivity of the sales force, but also to improve the timeliness and relevance of HCP communication, and to maximize Key Account Management (KAM) processes through real-time information and immediate interaction.
At the heart of the transformation in both field force productivity and the quality of customer interactions will be the use of location-based services. Combining mobile CRM with location awareness will ensure that the latest information updates on an organization or HCP will be available prior to the interaction to facilitate the most meaningful conversation. Representatives can also use tools like “Near Me” — powered by location awareness — to provide a graphical view of individuals a field user could meet in proximity of their current location, based on their call goals, hence optimizing productivity.
The evolution in mobile technologies also enables companies to improve collaboration across the team. Field users can make requests for information, such as research studies, direct to the relevant team member while in a meeting with the customer, and deliver the information or the research paper in almost real time.
The opportunity is to leverage mobile technology to provide the most complete interaction with an HCP within the limited timeframe — to respond to all questions immediately during the interaction rather than after the fact.
Indeed, some organizations are exploring the opportunity to extend the representative/HCP interaction to include a face time communication with a medical liaison, if required by the HCP, for additional questions that the representative cannot or should not answer.
Combining the ease, effectiveness and power of tablet devices with omnipresent communications networks that ensure continuous availability, the components of the mobile ecosystem are now in place. Indeed, as mobile devices become the only devices employed by field users, Life Sciences companies now have a simple, cost effective and secure way of providing the field force with timely information and facilitating the recording of customer interactions.
There is so much more that can be done using these devices than just multimedia presentations. If the Life Sciences industry is to truly maximize the mobile opportunity, business processes must be wrapped around the power of mobile technology. Organizations now have an unprecedented opportunity to be innovative, to get ahead of the competition, and to achieve real benefits through improved customer relationships and transformed representative productivity.
About the Author
Neeraj Singhal is Vice President, Product Management and Innovation at Cegedim Relationship Management. He is responsible for product innovation, product direction and the commercialization of solutions on existing and new technology platforms. Neeraj holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University and an MS in computer science from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.