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March 08, 2012
I’ve Bought iPads For My Sales Force – Now What?
By: Doug Mowen

Mobile solutions are becoming central to functions in the life sciences ecosystem – at the same time mobile functionality is expanding and devices are multiplying. Now is the time for companies to lay the groundwork for mobility solutions that meet the needs of stakeholders and strengthen the bottom line. To expand on the topic of mobility, I’ve invited Accenture’s Life Sciences Mobility Enablement team lead, Akash Patel, to share his observations on life sciences companies who were quick to embrace the iPad and insights on how all companies can capitalize on iPads and other mobile devices to drive value.


Over the past 12 months, Life Sciences companies have been enamored with all things iPad. It’s gotten past the buzz word stage as real investment has been made in the technology – going into 2012 we estimate that over 10,000 iPads have been purchased or committed for Life Science sales organizations. Are these impulse purchases? We’ve seen some sales organizations purchase of iPads without a clear plan, investment rationale or approval from IT and security organizations – as if to say ‘we will not be stopped’.

A year from now, will the decision to adopt iPads for sales seem like a smart move? Looking beyond the obvious ‘form factor appeal’, what will emerge as compelling benefits, e.g., cost takeout plays through device consolidation, enablement of new methods of marketing content delivery, innovations in channel collaboration?

Most organizations have spent the past few months covering the basics – sales force automation, email, and calendar. Sales Operations and IT groups are focused on enabling COTS iPad SFA solutions (Veeva’s iRep, Oracle’s iSales, etc.) along with foundational mobile infrastructure to manage the mobile devices.

Given the above doesn’t reek of innovation, the key questions going into 2012 revolve around a viable business case that doesn’t make outrageous assumptions, e.g.

  1. Can we provide additional (and perhaps differentiated) value with these tools?

  2. Can we save money through device consolidation or adopting a BYO model?

  3. Can we re-use assets that currently exist or do we have to ‘App’-ify everything?

The simple answer to all of these questions is ‘Yes’, but it does require some planning and leadership. We believe that successful iPad deployments need to go beyond SFA and should include integrated governance across sales, marketing, and corporate IT organizations. In addition, we believe there isn’t a ‘killer app’ available on the marketplace that can tap into the full capabilities of the iPad. The secret sauce is linkage to your selling model and having the architecture to integrate external COTS capabilities with internal apps in a way that delivers a seamless [a great?] experience for the end user.

Each of these organizations can help deliver benefits by taking advantage of the iPad and establishing an integrated roadmap for delivery across these business areas with a flexible architecture will help get to real value case sooner.

In Marketing, this can start as far upstream as creative content creation process with agencies. Some clients have already implemented decoupled models for content creation, management, and production services for the web channel and that model can also be extended into mobile content/apps.

In Sales, the days of heavy sales forces are over so efficiency and collaboration with customer and other channels are keys to success. As an example, sales team members can take advantage of built-in mobile specific capabilities such as location services (GPS) to enhance sales planning and decision making even further. With location-based alerts and customized notifications, representatives will be able to gauge their proximity to various customers, target them more effectively, and provide more relevant product and selling information.

What about cost reduction opportunities? Over the next 9 to 12 months we expect device consolidation to occur in order to reduce support-related (e.g., help desk, data plans) and hardware costs. Issues will be addressed to manage security and access, usability and productivity as well as support and lease agreements. Some companies will use ‘bridging mechanisms’ such as stipends to use home-office devices and we will see improvements in Web access application consolidation.

Clearly, iPads could be part of a powerful solution to help life sciences companies reach their customers more economically and effectively. The question is whether your company is simply deploying iPads as the ‘next device’ —or whether you are challenging cost models and figuring out how to fully maximize sales force effectiveness as part of a comprehensive multi-channel strategy. We believe that the life sciences companies that pursue a holistic approach to mobility will look back on their iPad decision as a ‘smart move.’

We see our clients embracing the move to SaaS and changing their mentality from upgrades every few years to continually evolving solutions that will take advantage of new features and capabilities as changes become available. What’s interesting is that after Life Science sales organizations are rapidly evolving from the past decade of SFA implementations with the mantra of ‘don’t impact my sales force – get it all right to start’ to a ‘start with basics and evolve along the way and if solutions are easy and intuitive – people will embrace the technology’.

Learn more about Accenture’s Mobility Service for Life Sciences Companies

For specific questions you may email Akash directly at akash.s.patel@accenture.com

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