Digital Maturity Study for Pharma Sees Growth In Budgets, But Still No Shift In Satisfaction


For the ninth year running, Across Health conducted a survey of life sciences to assess their overall digital maturity called the Multichannel Maturometer. Results show that these companies are more into digital technologies, but are not realizing the desired benefits from the investments they are making into new projects and programmes.

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Boards are increasingly supportive 

Fonny Schenck, CEO, Across Health states, “Senior level support for digital has been historically a sticking point – but one of the biggest changes this year is that boards are (finally) getting behind these programmes. Around the world, we see several newly minted CEOs of industry majors and specialty companies taking charge of digital themselves, which is a clear change to the scattered “bottom up” approach seen in most companies so far."

Budgets make a rare surge

After five years of slow progress, it appears that companies have finally got onto the digital runway. Indeed, there has been a 20% uptick in digital marketing budgets. This brings digital up to 19% of total marketing spend (and even higher in the US). If you look at the total customer engagement budget (marketing, sales, medical and service), digital budgets are probably closer to 6-7% (vs 4-5% in 2016).

Satisfaction with digital initiatives continues its low plateau

We see a continuation of the historic low level of satisfaction with digital and multichannel activities. There has been no change since 2015, and only 13% are very satisfied. In addition, the level of expertise in digital in general and channel mix decisions in particular continues to be very low.

Digitizing the familiar?

Uniquely of the tactics surveyed, respondents were increasingly satisfied with the multichannel rep. This is the only space where knowledge and comfort continues to grow –  84% of respondents (vs 74% in 2016) feel quite or very confident here. Also, compared to 2012, the only two key MCM tactics that have increased in prominence are both rep-focussed channels (tablet detailing and approved emails).

Wariness with pure-play digital

At the other extreme, we see a very low level of comfort with marketing automation (44% - same as 2016), confirming this rep-centric trend. Fonny finishes with his view that: “it may be a case of “Multichannel Myopia”, with the industry widely digitalising the old model and considering it ‘solved’, while ignoring other segments and stakeholders, as well as new opportunities like health tech”? 

About the Multichannel Maturometer

The Multichannel Maturometer (n = 256 for the 2017 edition, with respondents from Europe, US as well as Asia and Latin-America) has been conducted by Across Health since 2008. Originally called the Digital Barometer, it has been tracking attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to digital maturity in the life sciences and biotech industries. The findings help pharmaceutical and biotech companies understand where they fall along the digital transformation continuum – and how to improve their position. If you’d like more information about the study you can view the presentation here or watch the webinar.

Customized benchmarking studies can also be performed to compare companies against our study averages along 4 key dimensions: strategy & organization, business processes and technology, channel integration and measurement, including strategic & tactical recommendations. 

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