With the new emphasis on customer-centric business models and the customer experience, and the mad dash to make everything digital, life sciences companies need to find ways to provide a more cohesive experience for customers—and that’s going to take digital creativity and innovation.
Some companies are already exploring creative digital solutions for communicating with customers. Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA), for example, worked with a creative company to launch a new sun-safe campaign called “Melanoma Likes Me.” They used an application to search social media for popular sun-related hashtags and geolocations for posts from young Australians in the sun, and then the agency’s social media team, liked, followed and commented on people’s posts using an online persona—Melanoma. Messages from Melanoma were retweeted, shared and re-shared through a vast social media network, helping to increase the click-through rate of MPA's Skin Check mobile site.
Most companies, however, have not yet embraced creativity as an important part of their business processes. That could be because infusing digital creativity into the business of life sciences requires a change of mindset. Instead of focusing on constraints—the traditional operational method of the life sciences industry—companies must focus on outcomes. When they do this, the natural result is the promotion of innovation and creativity.
For companies wanting to take creativity a step farther, I see three broad opportunities:
Move from design thinking to design doing
As with corporate entrepreneurship, it is crucial to embed a methodology within the business that enables teams to create more innovative customer-centered solutions. In life sciences, digital and marketing teams often experience two degrees of separation, or more, from patients. This distance leads to teams jumping directly to finding solutions without fully understanding the issues and what the true value or success of an initiative might be.
Nestle is one company within the industry that has prioritized digital creativity—by establishing a digital acceleration team, which acts as a training ground for future digital leaders. A digital pioneer, the company has built teams with an impressive set of digital skills and shaped a culture where digital is at the forefront of everything they do.
Build innovation labs and embrace rapid prototyping
The concept of innovation labs and rapid prototyping is one that is slowly being adopted by pharma companies. Promoting a culture of “fail faster” encourages the normally conservative and cautious pharma industry to embrace change. Rapid prototyping allows for potential breakthroughs at low cost and it is this low, short-term impact that helps to foster a culture of “what if?” and decreases the fear of trying new ideas.
The value of this approach has been discussed by Bruno Villetelle, Chief Digital Officer at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, “We set up an internal digital accelerator and innovation fund … and we run a regular Dragons’ Den competition to identify and fund development and pilots for the best ideas. The competition helps us avoid waste and bring speed, focus and energy into digital innovation. When a pilot proves its value, we stand ready to put in the resources to scale the idea up quickly to the rest of the enterprise.”
Raise the profile of digital content
Long gone are the days when embracing digital meant having a multi-platform mobile app or a flashy corporate website. With surveys indicating that patients and other stakeholders don’t trust the online presence of pharmaceutical companies, it is clear that life sciences companies need to win back this trust and gain the confidence of consumers. To do this, they need to provide personalized, un-biased and vibrant content assets that focus on changing user behavior.
One role I think has been overlooked by the industry to date is that of the Content Strategist. I see this role as key to the success of any digital strategy. Understanding who is reading what, why, how and where is a vital insight that is the bedrock of any “beyond the pill” service offering. By combining the skills of a Content Strategist with those of analytics experts and brand managers, companies can understand what the consumer needs and so ensure that content is focused, relevant and engaging.
At Accenture, we provide a range of digital consulting and digital marketing services for the life sciences industry. If you’d like to infuse digital creativity in your business or talk about these three areas of opportunity, feel free to reach out to me directly.