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CMOs, Meet CIOs


Digital advances, new expectations from HCPs and patients, and a dominant outcomes-based reimbursement environment is creating an emerging need and opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to converge and collaborate to better meet new customer expectations, writes David Logue.

The pharma industry is facing a period of rapid change marked by digital advances, new expectations from health care professionals and patients, and a dominant outcomes-based reimbursement environment. This environment is creating an emerging need and opportunity for chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) to converge and collaborate to better meet new customer expectations in a digital world.

To better understand the challenges CMOs and CIOs may be facing and how digital strategies and capabilities were impacting their business, Accenture surveyed 24 CMOs and 22 CIOs from the largest pharma companies ($5 billion+ in annual revenues) in eight mature countries and found that CMOs and CIOs in the pharma industry may be missing the opportunity to optimize the impact of digital technologies due to a lack of alignment on how they should respond, according to a new Accenture industry report.

More than nine out of 10 large pharmaceutical company CIOs (91 percent) who participated in the survey of senior marketing and IT executives believe that their companies are in need of greater marketing/IT alignment. By contrast, fewer than two out of three pharmaceutical CMOs (58 percent) agreed with that statement – a discrepancy of 33 percent. This difference in perspective is greater in the pharmaceutical industry than in all other industries surveyed by Accenture at the same time – where the average discrepancy was only 14 percent.

Further, pharmaceutical CMOs and CIOs are not closely aligned on how to unify. Research shows the differences in perspectives on how to unify is larger in pharmaceuticals than other industries.  For example:

  • Pharmaceutical CIOs reported much stronger desire for aligning CMO/CIO goals, key performance indexes  and budgets as well as co-locating marketing and IT as well as aligning goal and objectives, with a 14 percent and 25 percent gap respectively, versus just two percent and nine percent reported gap cross industry.

  • Pharmaceutical CMOs reported strong desire for training in emerging marketing technologies and creating.

The opportunity to improve collaboration is most profound in several critical areas of business: analytics, technology spend, and big data. CMOs and CIOs in the pharmaceutical industry have different views of integration and overall investment in the marketing function. According to the report, pharmaceutical CIOs view analytics as the top driver of integration (cited by 52 percent of respondents), but pharmaceutical CMOs rank analytics near the bottom (cited by just 13 percent). Priorities for technology spend were similarly divided:

  • A majority of pharmaceutical CMOs (54 percent) have spent the most in applying technology on customer experience, while just 14 percent of CIOs cited customer experience as a priority to further market impact and outcomes.

  • Only 17 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs have spent funds to equip a mobile-enabled sales force, compared to 43 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs.

  • Just 13 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs said they have spent the most to invest in multichannel analytics, compared to 43 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs.

Alignment divergence

The survey also pointed to a lack of a common vision for technology and understanding between CMOs and CIOs in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, two-thirds (67 percent) of the CMO respondents do not view IT as a strategic partner, compared to 50 percent of CMOs surveyed in all industries. Additionally, while nearly 80 percent (77 percent) of pharmaceutical CIOs see the need for greater alignment with CMOs, just 44 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs feel that way.
CMOs and CIOs in the pharmaceutical industry also have differing attitudes on how to make alignment work between the two functions: Nearly four out of 10 pharmaceutical CIOs (38 percent) would favor co-locating IT and marketing staff, an option favored by only 13 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs. At the same time, nearly four out of 10 pharmaceutical CMOs (38 percent) said they would support creating an IT lead within the marketing function, and a marketing lead within IT, a solution that only 19 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs favored.

Coming together

A conclusion could be that the lack of CMO and CIO integration may be hindering digital adoption in the pharmaceutical industry, let alone taking advantage of the digital opportunities. The research shows that less than one-third of CMOs (29 percent) feel well prepared to exploit digital opportunities presented by digital marketing channels. Conversely, just over half of CIOs feel prepared (55 percent).

Suggested steps to more closely align pharma CMOs and CIOs include:

1.     Establish a vision and common objectives for marketing and IT that leverages the power of digital

2.     Unify around the customer and patient experience

3.     Integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company

4.     Focus the IT agenda to empower marketing to exploit digital technologies

Read more in this report based on the survey: The Rising Opportunity for CMO and CIO Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

About the Author

David Logue is a managing director in Accenture's Life Sciences practice, based in London, UK.

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