Study Quarter 2013 : Digital Analytics Fundamentals From Google

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As a part of the above said “study quarter”, I found this course on Digital Analytics Fundamentals to revisit the fundamentals of digital analytics for the month of October 2013 and just starting with the course.

Sharing so that you can take a look and take a plunge, if interested.

More to come…

How To Start Pharma Digital Journey

courtesy: HubSpot offers

courtesy: HubSpot offers

Context

I recently had a discussion about “going #digital” with a pharma executive. I showed him this. He confided that he believes digital as the way forward but simply does not know how to propose to his management. He also said that it all looks fantastic to talk but when you want to start, you go nowhere. He was sure that his management will not accept any proposal which talks about a budget for gadgets.

We shall go about discussing some aspects of it to the extent a blog post would allow it. I confine this discussion to what pharma can internally decide and execute because that’s where I want them to start with their learning curve. I welcome you to join this discussion by reading, making notes of your thoughts and sharing your comments.

Pharma Campaigns

Pharma marketing operates with 3-6 campaigns every year. On an average, a minimum of 4 meetings (one per each quarter) are called for, to meet with the reps within the company. The expenses incurred for such a campaign briefing meeting (every company has different names for such meetings) include

  • Expenses of Reps travelling from the towns they are based to where the meeting is held (to and fro)
  • A place for them to stay for 2-3 nights
  • Food for them on all these days
  • A meeting place
  • Paper-based stationery and training material
  • Going by our own experience, atleast two working days get spoilt other than these meeting days (yeah! you can contest that)

What happens in a campaign briefing meeting? The following list (indicative but not limited to) gets discussed

  • Product priorities (seasonal, new launches etc.)
  • Mapping the product priorities to the Drs List (a term pharma people understand well)
  • Sampling strategy
  • Detailing strategy
  • Detailing priorities within that individual detailing strategy
  • Follow-up calls (Number of times to visit each category of doctors)
  • Targets (primary and secondary)
  • Training/briefing reps to execute these
  • Analysis of last  quarter sales figures or YTD sales (year-to-date)
  • Announcements of incentives against achievements and for future achievements

You will find that most of the above are mere communication except the training part. In my experience such meetings will not allow time for individual attention of reps and hence not much of individual discussions happen during these briefing days. They happen with respective bosses after these meeting days (mostly while working in the field).

Now consider the fact that most of these can be done through digital platforms with much more efficiency at a fraction of the costs that are currently incurred.

Efficiency because

  • The training material as videos can be played back any number of times by the rep to learn without additional costs. A series of 2 minutes video learning in between Dr calls might be more effective than once in a quarter learning.
  • Mock sessions through digital platforms, which will improve the rep, costs next to nothing and can be a continuous process as part of the work regimen.
  • Product quizzes can be done online and can be part of the evaluation for further training.
  • Feedback Systems that I spoke about here

Generally I get two objections:

1. Nothing like physically being together for motivation, team spirit, blah, blah, blah…(I come from the traditional background and hence I know every inch of that territorial objections to give soltuions).

2. Investment costs of gadgets are high

1. Being together:

You can do the 3-6 campaign briefings through digital platforms and use that savings to take your reps to exotic locations for being together, develop team spirit and for unwinding once or twice a year. That way, you fund yourselves and, I bet, the reps will like both being sophisticated in work with the gadgets, learning and also the exotic unwinding trips. You will start a trend which others shall follow. You will attract the best talent too.

2. Investments

This is a false objection. Because you dont need to be a maths genius to know that if you calculate the costs of all those campaigns over a period of 1-3 years you can fund yourself for the gadgets and still might save some money. And listen, the benefit is not just the cost. Imagine how your company will get transformed through this and also how customers will perceive your reps and your company. Hence investing(initially) and transforming your company through digital platforms should be a no-brainer. It is an investement that pays itself off and also ensures your future. In the long-run you can have huge cost savings too. All those digital creations can be used in the training departmernt for new comers. That again is a big benefit because these are created for real situations and a huge experience with instituitional memories come along. Such realistic company owned training materials will stand you in good stead for years to come. So much of ROI. Think about it.

Have Both?

Some still might feel that their successes live on their physical campagin briefings. Even if you conduct your briefings in a traditional way, digital platforms can help you increase effectiveness by follow-ups in a bettter way. Traditional ways and digital ways are not the same. Hence a word of caution here. Old strategies with newer tools dont work. But you can make a start by demarcating some parts of it to go the digital way. This is not something that you have to achieve overnight and it is not possible too. But you can make a start towards survival for the future.

My question (or rather answer) to those pharma executives

As pharma person, you know from where these false objections come from and why. You also know how to overcome them. Why will you not apply them interally and convince your management to move forward? We are not even talking about rep-physician relationship or relationship with distributors, chemists and finally patients. We are talking about internal implementation with your own people. What say? You are the best judge.

Is there anything that I did not factor in? Add them. Feel free to share your comments. I will be willing to talk to you if you need help.

Workshops: My Point Of View

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we are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.—-aristotle.

Normally a workshop is conducted wherein everything is taught or shared in 2-3 hours time(including some hands-on exercises) and then the participants are left to carry their learning back to their businesses and figure out how they can apply what they learnt to their businesses.

I agree workshops are a great way to learn. But just that my format of a workshop is slightly different especially for teaching the social tools that you can use for your business growth. I email an action plan to the participants everyday for 2-3 weeks. They try their hand with those self-explanatory instructions and do some learning around. Once they do that, they have lots of ideas themselves. They can think through these tools with respect to their functions or businesses. Then we have the regular format workshop where we can debate, argue, promote, understand and learn much better.

Thanks for your time. Feel free to comment or buzz me.

 

Technology For Medical Representatives

This article was written for “medical representatives” as target audience. If you are not a sales representative or have sales representatives in your organization, you can skip this post.

Medical Representative : A medical representative is a title given to one who is hired by a pharma company to take care of its business in a given geographical area. Though the designations vary with various companies, the basic job remains the same, that of a medical representative. Hence let us use this as a basic term to describe the job function.

Background/Context of the job:
The job of a medical representative is tough to define. It is not limited to but includes the following basic realities:
      The job is to primarily maximize the prescriptions from doctors in that geographical area for the chosen brands of the company.
      Though companies have policies, guidelines, training and recommendations to the reps, generally they are inadequate in reality. Reps learn a lot from peers and also from their own experience in the field. The managers who work with them try to pass on and impart as much as possible both in the best interests of the company and the individual. This is a sound ecosystem that functions.
      Pharma reps who can think and translate their thoughts into new ways of approaching the business are free to do and hence they do well in creating business and also either go up the ladder or get better opportunities from other companies.
      Purely by experience, reps know their territory well and where business comes from. In line with the company’s policies and using their own innovativeness they arrive at a work plan for each day and execute it for productivity and maximizing the business.
      The work pattern involves both appointment calls and walk-in calls of doctor as customers and then once inside the chamber of a doctor the job involves prescription oriented detailing, sharing samples, documents, campaign gifts and so on.
      The reps learn to factor all the territory knowledge that they have into their plan for time management.
      They also do mass detailing in hospitals, medical colleges or with resident doctors(interns and PGs in medical college hospitals).
      Experienced reps learn to visit chemists to get more information on doctor’s prescribing habits, availability of stocks, competitor’s information etc. These also involve timings as chemists prefer to see and are willing to have a chat only when they don’t have customers to be attended to. Such information gathered help in fine-tuning objectives while visiting doctors either to request for more prescriptions or to thank them adequately to continue those prescriptions to maintain business.
      Reps also fulfill other requirements of the company like weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual sales reports, campaign reports of sales and samples, feedback reports, expense reporting, other special budget expenses etc.
      Maintaining a primary sales(company to distributor) and secondary sales(distributor to retailers) along with monitoring of take-backs(like expiry) and so on comes as a part of the job.

      Any knowledge, training skills, promotions and your career depends solely on how good you do this fundamental job in your early years and how well you have imbibed them into yourself to demonstrate when required.
The above is not a complete list but an indicative one. May be one can add much more that goes into making a successful medical representative. In a nutshell, a medical representative is trained to be his own business guy within his territory and the skills he develops stand him in good stead for life.
Current Status
Before writing this article, I interviewed a few national level sales managers of some pharma companies who are supposed to have moved the digital way and some have gone even mobile on it. But to my disappointment, I found most of these companies have bought bloated software at a big cost and are stuck either with the implementation or with obsoleteness after they had implemented with no way of forward integration without incurring huge costs again. Also buying costly software is not a solution for smaller companies.
Cloud Computing Technology that can be useful for medical reps
Read the following tools and imagine their places within the job functions of a medical representative. When you imagine, note that all these tools are available today independent of device and location. In other words, one can access these anytime, anywhere and through any device that is connected to Internet. You do not need powerful hardware(laptops etc) and also you need not buy any software. You can scale up or scale down your requirements. This would mean you can use it if you are a 5-reps company(SME) or a 2000-reps company(Enterprise). Size does not matter. You pay for what you use. You can use computing like electricity or water from a tap. You take a subscription and use everything. You can customize to your format. And much more.
I have categorized all the functions of a medical representative into these six major categories.

Data Storage and Management: Examples of this could be MSL(must see list) that every territory has which is a customer database, Chemists lists, rankings, all kinds of reports, detailing tools, detailing stories to go with it, photos/videos of CMEs/medical camps, expense and stock accounting, HR related documentation and all kinds of backups needed. All these can be available a click away.

Communication Tools: These include all your communication tools to be used within your team, with the rest of your company colleagues, partners and also customers.
Publication Tools: These can be used productively and innovatively in many situations in a representative’s life and business like training, updating trends, opinions, networking etc.

Information Management & Search Tools:Representatives are required to stay ahead with knowledge of current affairs, knowledge with respect to therapy areas and product category. Reps can use such tools to stay ahead of market. They can search for information and also they can let information come to them through such tools. While handling important business contacts, such information on customers and other relevant market news can provide the much needed competitive advantage.

Personal Information Manager: A rep needs to be a savvy person to plan his work and work his plan. Juggling personal and professional life can be a big task. The job demands a lot of personal time and accountability in handling the given area. So some of the easy tools can help them do things productively to stay ahead and achieve the much needed work-life balance.

Business Tools: Remember we talked of innovative ways. These tools will make the rep innovative in how he handles his customers, territory and the business. They can arrange web conferencing for some key clients with HO, collaborate well with distributor friends and manage invoices and payments in a much better way.

Each one of these tools can be mapped to existing ways of work of the representative. Organizations can integrate these in a swift and productive manner to have real time data and gain immensely from introducing such tools from the ground level of a representative.
Understand Cloud which is a boon today from the business perspective and optimize business processes for maximum efficiency. Once you map productivity and efficiency of your organization with traditional IT systems vs cloud, you will see the value in Cloud services.
What do you think? Feel free to comment. You can reach
me at www.varadh.com or @varadhkrish

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Where Pharma Can Start With Social Media

When people talk of “Pharma and Social Media” they think of replacing in-house reps. They think “out-of-the-box”.  My idea of pharma and social media is completely different.
Introduction
I am using the term “doctors” to denote medical practitioners in this post. In the Indian context, pharma generally refers to them as Doctors. Doctors include all kinds of medical practitioners. The general practitioners, physicians, surgeons, all specialists (including dentists) and super-specialists. In short, anyone who can legally prescribe your medicine to the patient. 
How Pharma Sells
In pharmaceutical sales, the most important customer is the doctor. Though patients buy and use the medicines, it is the doctor who prescribes it and hence doctors are their customers. Pharma companies try and visit as many doctors as possible through their representatives. In general, the numbers of visits to such doctors determine the results. Top-of-mind-brand-recall means more prescriptions. Hence they also try as many numbers of visits as possible to doctors. The whole of pharma strives to increase the time they spend with doctors who wield a lot of power in prescribing their brands.
Quality Time With Doctors
Some doctors see reps every day, any time during their practice hours. Some see on specified time every day. Some see on specified time on specified days. Some do everything to avoid meeting reps. The amount of time that reps get to spend with doctors is severely limited today. So there is an ever-shortening of the time that you get to spend with doctors to influence their prescriptions.  I don’t know how many companies have a record of the average time spent inside the doctor’s cabin by their reps. We used to have such parameters long back. This was used to plan the length of the detailing story and also the number of products to be promoted. Even patients, the paying customers, don’t get to spend quality time with their doctors. 
Challenges
Pharma faces major challenges with their sales forces today. I already wrote about what plagues the industry. Reps today are not able to manage even the normal list of activities that makes the job.  Unless your reps are extremely smart in spending quality time with the doctors and influence them, you have no chance of winning in the crowded market place today. 
My Prescription
You have to fundamentally change how you sell your products in the future. The model of tens of thousands of reps meeting doctors will not go away over-night but greatly reduce in the future. Find out how much time doctors spend online. You will be surprised it is much more than the time they spend with representatives. Go where your customers go. Online. Its not a quick fix for growth. But the way to the future. 
It is high time that the companies learn to use Social Media tools to supplement and strengthen what they already have through their reps. Pharma can use social media tools and do the following to start with
  • Opening more doctors doors
  • To gain valuable time of doctors (supplementing visit time of reps)
  • Relevant exchange of information with quality conversations (share more clinical and informative data surrounding your products)
  • Strengthen your rep-doctor relationships (because of SM activities the prescription push will become more effective and also the time spent will stretch during visits)
  • Build meaningful relationships
  • Train your reps better
  • Improve productivity of reps

This list is only indicative. We are working on a list of objectives, tools and actionable items and possibly a pilot program soon. 
What Next
Using new age tools with old strategies is a sure recipe for disaster. So you need to learn new ways of doing things to use social media tools. I believe Pharma is capable of bringing about “game changing” practices. It just needs to dedicate more time, energy and money. 
My thoughts have been shaping up well for actionable results. You can keep a track of it here http://blog.varadh.com/search/label/Pharma
 Feel free to comment. Call me and I will be happy to talk to you. 
Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Will Social Media Transform Your Business?

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To understand this question, you should not start with social media tools or the technologies behind them. You should start with primary functions of your business and see what business metrics you need to achieve as results. 
Repeatedly I get the question if social media will help achieve the next month’s target. Sadly it is a “no”.
To understand Social Media and use it well for your business, think about the following:
How your business gets done–has it changed? I mean the nature of your business and how your industry/sector has changed. List out the changes.
How you do business-has it changed? With respect to your own customers, what are the changes in your activities that have been implemented or to be implemented? List out the changes. 
How you run your organization-has it changed? What are the organizational changes that you have brought in or needs to be brought in? List out the changes. Is it in sync with the above two changes?
Most importantly, what has been driving these changes? 
This will be a good starting point to understand what changes have happened and what you should change. This is the hardest part. Understanding this change. Once you realize this change, you will easily understand it has three parts: cultural, technological and operational. The first and hardest part would be the cultural change. Rest two can be done relatively easier. The first change i.e. cultural change will help you implement operational changes. You will also realize that any one individual in one of the functions cannot bring about such changes in an isolated way. It has to be across the board. The organization as a whole has to change to get the results. 
Forget the tools initially. Appreciate the basic ideas behind them and how it can be useful with respect to your business functions. This will help you understand the tools that you need. 
Now look at what kind of social media tools will fit.  You will start understanding how social media tools can fit your business. There is no one single answer. Last few years the answers have been changing. The impacts of tools are dynamically changing. Keeping track of things and catching up has been hard.
Depending on your engagement, social media tools will help you in all-round development of your business. This will include sales, better customer satisfaction, market intelligence and productivity of your employers. The list is only indicative. You can decide how Social Media will transform your business. 
Try this method. Let me know what you arrive at. Want to talk specific about your business? Just buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

What Next After Email?

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Email has transformed the way you do business. Email has transformed the way we live our lives. Email on mobile has made it instantaneous.
Have you gone beyond this? If not, what is next?
In Email, access to past information becomes a big pain. How do you access information in email or instant messaging? They tend to be like private conversations and lost. How does the organization access this information? How can this necessary information be made available to those who need them, when they need them and where they need them?
If you have moved to CRM or ERP like applications, do you have access to those information in real-time?
Personally are you using Facebook and/or twitter? Have you thought of Facebook-like or twitter-like applications customized to your business process and work-flow? 
Easy micro-blogging tools are available for enterprises today. You can share information, build teamwork and can have real-time notifications. You can still get notified by email and reply by email. When you want to find information you can find them well organized in one place. Such tools can help locate answers and/or relevant people within the group.
Attractive real-time collaboration platforms are available. You can integrate all your applications. 
Some of the information you may need in real-time. Not all information are needed in real-time. People mistake real-time collaboration with relay of information. Relay of information in real-time leads to information overload. Hence you need to carefully select and build your business processes and work-flow into these real-time activities.
Interact. Collaborate. Improve your business performance. 
Feel free to comment or share. 

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Fear Of Online Social Marketing

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Are you afraid of Social Media? The biggest worry for marketers is that someone can detract their message. They fear that someone can contribute negatively to their existing brand reputation. They do not want negative comments. They do not want Social Media.
Consider the example of any popular product online. There will be 100s of reviews for the product. Apart from these reviews, there will be 1000s of discussions on the product. Where are they happening? Anyone with a gadget and an internet connection can talk today. Someone can talk in his blog or in a social network. Not necessarily all talk will be negative. They can also promote the product with positive statements, photos, videos and share their enthusiasm for the product. It can go both ways, negative or positive. And everyone with an internet connection can have access to these for free. Businesses also get these promotions, endorsements and loyalty free of cost. If you are using social media tools, you can monitor these and you can use these references for free in your engagement. Such positive endorsements can promote your brand much better than your messages. You can also reduce misunderstanding of your product when you monitor negative sentiments or complaints. Or even rectify and can have a better product for future in genuine cases.
A whole lot of websites today serve as a place for such positive and negative sentiments which make or break a brand. Whether you participate or not, consumers have a voice today and they are only getting louder by the day. 
Social Media is people talking to people. Hence your message cannot be controlled by you. It is not an announcement which people will just listen to. You can talk and they will keep talking too. The people whom you address are part of your message now. Hence you need balance. Their voice is equally(if not more) powerful. 
Avoiding Social Media is not the answer to this. Educating people about your objectives will help. Being transparent should help. You can handle negativity in many ways.
The only way forward is to learn and use Social Media the proper way. 

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

How Are You Served By Cloud Computing?

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Cloud computing has already moved a lot of stuff from desktop to cloud. For example, most of your applications and documents have moved to the cloud. Now the desktop is not very important to you. Web has taken that place. How does Cloud Computing serve your business? You dont need to know much about the architecture or the infrastructure part of the cloud. As a user, how are you served by Cloud Computing? 
Advantages
Computers that are high-priced and high-powered are not needed. Not much traditional software is used and not much backup is done on the computer. Nothing to save and nothing to load. In your office, even CD and DVD slots in your computers become unnecessary or  optional. You can use low-cost computers.
Improved performance of the computer as the computer is not clogged with unnecessary programs. 
No loss of data if your computer crashes. Cloud keeps data safe. 
Lower costs due to less investments, maintenance work load(both hardware and software) for your IT department. No peak load worries. Hence no idle resources. No software costs. Either they are free or rental is far lower than software costs. No software updates. Happens automatically with Cloud. No obsolete software.
Increased computing power. 
Unlimited storage capacity.
Operating systems do not matter when you share. 
No format incompatibilities for your documents.
The Biggest For Businesses
You can access your applications and documents from anywhere through the web. This relieves you from your physical constraints and not necessarily you are tied to your office as you can access these via web. Since anyone in your office can do the same (i.e. all of you can access the same document,when shared), this also allows group members to collaborate and work from being in different places. No need to wait for sequential work through email. Updates are instantaneous and can work simultaneously to co-create. Latest version is available to all. 
You can change devices. You can go mobile. Your documents and applications follow you. Work seamlessly without worrying about specific formats with specific devices. 
Many businesses need people working together to reach a common goal. Right information at the right time to the right people serves to make a right decision. Collaboration is more than communication. It is how people function together. Cloud helps you do that better. 
Go Cloud. 
Be well informed. Take speedy decisions. Get work done. 
What impacts have cloud computing played on your business? How has it transformed your business? Feel free to share.
Got Questions? Feel free to ask.  

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

The Only Way To Propel Your Company

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Is your company restrictive at work place?  Time to question Why spend time and money on restrictive policies?
Being connected 24×7 is the norm today. Younger generation bring gadgets and use social networking tools at the workplace, whether you like it or not. While you can restrict them from using official resources for such personal networking, you cannot prevent them from using their personal gadgets and discussing official things. Within colleagues of the same organization, to do their job better, work effectively, to cut time and location issues, they tend to discuss official matters using personal gadgets or using social platforms, especially when there is no official platform to collaborate. This exposes companies to the damage from content outside of their control and processes. Added to that, when the employees leave the organization, all the content created thus is lost and creates huge communication gaps. This creates great loss with time, energy and money.
Think about it.
If you don’t embrace it officially, people will use it unofficially. They will learn and use it elsewhere when they join. Better use it for yourself productively. 
To know what you are missing you have to use it and see it for yourself. Being open to new ideas is an important part of the new culture. If you ask me, the only way to propel your company into the next level is culture.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com