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January 19, 2015
Can better CMO and CIO integration accelerate digital adoption in pharma?
By: David Logue

In Accenture’s recent global survey of CMOs and CIOs in the pharmaceutical industry, we wanted to understand the options, challenges and points of view of senior marketing and IT executives on the impact of digital strategies and capabilities on their business.

From the results, it became abundantly clear that pharmaceutical CIOs see a strong need for marketing and IT alignment and interaction—the highest, in fact, of any industry group surveyed, at 80 percent. On the flip side, significantly fewer CMOs in the industry (only 44 percent) see a need for collaboration. Given the historical sales rep, in-person, paper based approach to marketing and selling in pharma, the need for integration was less prominent. Of course, in today’s digital world, where one in four sales reps has been replaced by digital outreach1, we can easily argue that it is rapidly become critical.

Our survey revealed there is a lot of opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to work more closely together. To start, the pharma CIOs and CMOs we surveyed have very different perspectives on the role of IT in marketing. A staggering two-thirds of CMOs in the pharmaceutical industry do not see IT as a strategic partner, compared to just half in other industries.

The two groups also have different views on what is hindering their success. Half of CMOs cited wrong solutions as being a key obstacle to improving marketing effectiveness, whereas only 8 percent of CIOs saw wrong solutions as an issue. And half of CMOs indicated that insufficient budget and funding was a barrier to success for projects, compared to just a quarter of CIOs.

Marketing and IT also say they have different reasons for their company’s lack of digital readiness—less than a third of CMOs and only half of CIOs feel well prepared to exploit opportunities presented by digital marketing channels. CIOs see the biggest problems as being the complexity of change management for physical channels as well as IT resistance and opposition to solution sourcing, whereas CMOs suggest there is not enough funding for digital marketing channels. However, both groups agree that solution complexity and integration difficulties are a major issue.

To sum up, the rewards of mastering new digital channels and ways to reach patients and customers during this period of rapid change are significant. The time is ripe for CMOs and CIOs in pharma to join together and tackle this head on by aligning around a common technology vision, unifying around the customer and patient experience, integrating customer-focused skills throughout the organization and focusing the IT agenda to empower marketing to exploit digital technologies.

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