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Wave 3 CRM solutions for Pharma: It is all about benefits

It is not often that we can talk about waves of automation that come in such quick succession. That is what is happening in Pharma CRM and SFE space. The time gap between these developments is reducing rapidly, throwing significant challenges to the software industry that serves Pharma.

“ Traditionally, Pharma has been slower than FMCG in IT adoption. However, things are changing rapidly now. We are ready to absorb anything in IT that can give us real benefits”, says the CEO of a mid-tier pharma company in India.

And so-it is all about “benefits” from a solution!

What do I mean by Wave 3? What were the first 2 waves?


In India, Wave 1 automation started over 15 years back. Companies began to invest in “Capex based” solutions that were typically web based. Then came the “Cloud” which merely helped companies move to”Opex” solutions-but the solutions were the same-largely helping in measuring parameters relevant to field activity.

Then, with the adoption of smart phones, along came Wave 2. Companies realized that they could capture the same data “near real time” by having MR s use their smart phones and local apps. But the data and information made available to the stake holders was still the same-only the user consumption mode changed.

And so, what next? What is the industry expecting in Wave 3?

I have been interacting with many senior executives, and also holding meetings, knowledge sharing sessions and webinars. Most senior executives are now asking

  • We have invested in mobility, may be even E-detailing. What has it given us?

  • Can you suggest solutions for more effective customer engagement?

  • Can you tell me how to get the most out of CLM? (Closed Loop Marketing)

  • How do I measure ROI on E-detailing and on all our investments in promotion?

From these interactions, it is very clear to me that the industry is now sending a strong message to software vendors—i.e. Show me the benefits, and I am willing to invest in the next generation of CRM solutions.

What will Wave 3 solutions need to have?

I asked this question of a senior CIO of a large MNC pharma company recently. And he said—“I don’t know. It must be truly useful. Must give value for money”!

Major software vendors around the world seem to think that, with E-detailing, all industry’s woes are solved, and they have done their job. Far from it, in my opinion. The CIO that I have quoted works for a company that implemented E-detailing 3 years back. He is still looking for that solution which will give him true value!

Wave 3 solutions will have to be true enablers on multiple fronts, just some of which are:

  1. Better HCP engagement

  2. Collaboration between teams in Sales and Marketing

  3. Predictive analytics

  4. Unbridled focus on ROI for every dollar invested in promotional activity by a pharma company.

These are interesting times for CRM software vendors. Vendors, who can deliver value, will succeed.

1 Comment

  1. Very well articulated. Some of the questions about ROI is very commonly raised in all companies these days, specially for e- detailing etc, which most of the vendors / implementors find it hard to answer.

    Actually in my opinion, ROI for an e-detaling project is hard to justify, as sales in pharmaceuticals is indirect, and is governed by so many oaths factors, unlike FMCG’s.

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