How Pharma Can Embrace the Transformative Potential of Commercial Analytics

Updated on April 27, 2023

Commercial analytics-led insights and opportunities are critical to customer leadership in the digital era. Here is what pharma leaders must do to navigate the challenges – that hinder success – and unlock the full potential of their commercial analytics programs.

The role of commercial analytics in enabling pharma companies to align their engagement strategies with the needs of Healthcare Professionals (HCP) and patients while driving effective, differentiated initiatives cannot be overemphasized. A well-managed commercial operations function enabled by data, analytics and digital expertisecan significantly influence top-line growth by enabling value-based engagements to deliver true customer leadership. This means putting the customer’s needs at the front and center of everything they do. 

However, too often, we see the absence of a clear, concerted strategy prevent pharma companies and healthcare providers from taking advantage of the enormous opportunity commercial analytics offers. Siloed working and a lack of synergies – among commercial, technology and data leaders – and collaborative tools mean pharma companies miss out on critical opportunities to improve customer experiences and revenues. It is vital to understand and anticipate the customer’s needs and acknowledge the different experiences across HCPs and patients. Yesterday’s analytics practices will neither conquer the rapidly developing predictive applications, engage and support HCPs in virtual settings nor deliver an improved patient experience.

Therefore, what actions must pharma companies take to benefit from the true potential of commercial analytics?

Collaborative and operational synergies are vital

According to PwC, a differentiated customer experience can replace pharma’s share of voice-driven promotional models within five years or earlier.

Commercial analytics and customer leadership feed off each other. The latter is crucial to making the most of this innovative and rapidly evolving new technology. When combined effectively, customer leadership and commercial analytics can assist pharma companies in engaging customers proactively, anticipating their needs and developing commercial processes (rather than taking a reactive approach). This can translate into more intelligent targeting, better-informed strategies and improved commercial performance.  

Customer leadership requires clients in the healthcare community and their suppliers to be transparent as they work together to identify their short-, medium- and long-term strategies. Sharing data and information, wherever possible, can help accelerate digital transformation. According to Gartner, data and analytics leaders who share data externally drive business benefits three times more than those who do not. It further predicts that by 2023, enterprises that promote data sharing will outperform competitors on most business value metrics.

Business leaders must also be aware of the opportunities to unlock operational synergies. Investing in technology is merely part of the answer. Value-based engagement also needs the right virtual content and support tools for HCPs in virtual care settings. Most life sciences companies have aspects of their operations executed in-house and outsourced/driven through captive centers. Each function has its strengths, weaknesses and constraints, and some are better placed than others for certain activities. Exploiting the full potential of commercial analytics requires that these facets work together. However, this is easier said than done. An initiative like this warrants a mindset change. Therefore, leadership teams must ensure that cultural and day-to-day work practices change to meet these goals. Incentives will be pivotal in driving effective behavioral change in terms of external contract structure and internal rewards. 

Strategic initiatives merit C-suite buy-in 

According to McKinsey, advanced analytics could improve EBITDA for pharma companies by 45-75 percent. However, the lack of a holistic strategy and buy-in from the executive leadership often results in companies failing to extend their analytics projects beyond pilot implementation. A disconnect between various internal stakeholders often impedes businesses from realizing and maximizing value. 

The commercial, clinical, pharmacovigilance and supply chain departments are the ultimate beneficiaries of analytics-driven insights. Within the commercial space, there are many stakeholders – therapy areas, product owners, regions, countries, sales force effectiveness departments, market access teams and pricing functions. However, the tech and data teams typically control the infrastructure and systems that deliver them. Technology alone is not the answer and there must be incentives in place to harness innovation from wherever it occurs, leveraging domain knowledge and supporting both enterprise and local needs.

The C-suite must take the lead to ensure all departments are on board. It should be prepared to lead by example, demonstrating good practices in terms of cooperation and integration. 

Co-creation is essential

This involves mutually identifying opportunities for competitive advantage, efficiencies and deeper insights to create solutions tailored to the situations and requirements of the HCPs and patients they serve. Pharma business leaders must be proactive, working with suppliers to understand customers’ overall strategies, technical environments, data standards and markets. They can then bring the challenges and the initiatives to the table to ensure they fit neatly together.

An innovative mindset is also paramount. This means bringing together perspectives and progress from all parts internally, the life sciences industry and other verticals. Forums, structures and incentives must enable common learning opportunities and sharing of new ideas, technologies and the latest best practices. The creation of entirely new solutions through “prototyping” with suppliers and internally may ultimately be demanded, but often the wheel has already been invented elsewhere. 

Opportunity to leverage commercial analytics, demonstrate customer leadership

The current business environment has resulted in once-in-a-generation challenges, namely ruptured supply chains, surging inflation and new, agile disruptors eating the lunch of larger players. 

It has, therefore, never been more important for pharma companies to leverage every tool available – and today, commercial analytics is the most significant among these tools. However, exploiting its true potential requires all teams concerned to align on a shared business vision and demonstrate authentic customer leadership.

In conclusion, the advantages of superior analytics in the pharmaceutical enterprise are clear. However, barring a complete approach and buy-in from the C-suite, many groups will fail to maximize their value. It is fundamental for all departments to work collectively and for the management to set an example of cooperation and integration.

Co-creation with suppliers and a revolutionary attitude will allow frequent learning of possibilities and sharing of new ideas. To learn more about this topic, we inspire you to study similarly and continue to be up-to-date with the industry’s ultra-modern developments and exceptional practices.

Finally, the modern-day commercial enterprise environment allows pharma businesses to leverage business analytics and exhibit patron leadership. To obtain this, it is fundamental to align on a shared enterprise, be imaginative and prescient, and work collectively towards a frequent goal.

Mark Halford
Mark Halford
Mark Halford is Corporate Vice Presidentfor Client Services, Life Sciences and Healthcare, at WNS, a leading provider of global business process management.