Cybercorps: how firms will evolve

April 1, 1997
Pharmaceutical Representative

To thrive in the technological age of the future, companies must be designed for flexibility, experimentation, fast response and rapid transformation.

No amount of re-engineering will save an arthritic company from extinction, according to James Martin, an international business and technology guru. To thrive in the technological age of the future, companies must be designed for flexibility, experimentation, fast response and rapid transformation.

Martin offers an insider's view of emerging technology and provides managers with a plan for corporate survival in his book "Cybercorp: The New Business Revolution," published by Amacom.

While most of today's corporations are designed for doing business in the 1960s or 1970s, a cybercorp is built for today's technology, Martin said in a recent interview.

"The advent of the World Wide Web, networked computers and other developments have led to an entirely different corporate mechanism," Martin said. "Corporations should be focused on finding out what types of mechanisms work best or are the most profitable."

Martin said the cybercorp of the future will bear no resemblance to today's corporations. One of the key characteristics of a cybercorp is its ability to support virtual operations (not to be confused with the term "virtual corporations," which Martin says is a meaningless term that is difficult to define).

Virtual operations use resources that a company does not own. For example, when Boeing built its model 777 plane, it established about 200 partnerships around the world that were linked by the same software. This technology enabled Boeing to build a sophisticated machine in half the normal time, Martin said.

Drug cybercorps

Despite their reliance on technology for research and development, pharmaceutical companies have not matured into cybercorps, Martin said. "Pharmaceutical companies have superb technology in research, but they are not displaying much technological savvy in business mechanisms and sales capabilities. Many other industries are also highly focused in one area, but are not in others."

To evolve, pharmaceutical companies need to start embracing cybermarketing, particularly to consumers, Martin said.

"Selling really changes its nature through technology. On the Internet, a company can collect vast quantities of information on its customers. This is really different than classic marketing, particularly through television.

"In cybermarketing, a company also makes a vast amount of information available to the customer on Web sites." However, a drug company must do this responsibly because direct-to-consumer advertising on the Internet is one area under close FDA scrutiny.

Drug firms could use the Internet to spread public service information and increase patient compliance to drug regimens, Martin said. "A company that solves that big money problem for the pharmaceutical industry has the potential of being bigger than Microsoft."

Cyber-reps

In sales, Martin predicts continued developments in sales force automation and electronic selling.

To ready themselves for the revolution, salespeople should make themselves comfortable with computers and practice electronic sales presentations.

Similarly, managers need to understand how technology changes the nature of doing business. "I find that a lot of sales managers are concentrating on what was important 10 years ago.

"What we are seeing today is a total revolution in all industries that parallels the globalization of business. The world is a melting pot, and many pharmaceutical companies are merging because they have got that message." PR

For information on Martin's book, call Amacom at (800) 262-9699.