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inVentiv Digital at ExL Paris

on February 21 | in inVentiv Digital, multichannel marketing, Pharma | by | with No Comments

So, last week saw the launch of inVentiv Health’s new digital brand in Europe: inVentiv Digital + Innovation EU.

We’re part of the global inVentiv Digital + Innovation group and are obviously excited about our industry, our network and our opportunities to continue doing world class work.

As part of that activity we put a number of channels live, including this blog and a SlideShare on European Digital Healthcare Trends which appears to have been a particular success.

Likewise, my current personal manifesto on how pharma might want to reframe its investment in innovation received far more love on Twitter last week than I thought possible.

Thanks to all of you.

Most importantly though, we put ourselves out there to have some real world conversations at ExL Pharma’s Digital Pharma Europe event over at BMS HQ in Paris.

My colleague Ritesh Patel (@ritters90 for those of you who don’t currently follow him) is going to be giving his thoughts from an event chairman’s perspective in the near future, but when it’s fresh in my mind I thought I’d give a perspective from the floor.

To me, the most important thinking fell into three categories:

Pharma is finally putting multichannel in its proper context

Joanna Mercier from BMS made this particular geek very happy with her reframing of William Gibson’s justly famous quote: “The future’s already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

By turning this on its head with the line “The past is still here too – it’s just so evenly distributed that no one notices” she made a key point echoed by almost every speaker:  traditional ‘real world’ channels still remain popular with Pharma’s customers – in many cases more so than the transformative El Dorado quested after through current app-based and social initiatives.

Likewise, to paraphrase many participants (including Bayer’s @ChrisSchulze  and inVentiv’s own @gvanantwerp), much of the industry is trying to walk before it can run – looking ahead to new channels rather than focusing on efforts to get the basics of ‘grown-up’ web and analytics approaches embedded in their organisations.

To hear a general consensus that getting multichannel right requires a proper focus on customer behaviours as well as a rethink of internal capabilities might sound like a small step, but it marks something of a sea change in the way that the topic’s been presented on the conference circuit in the past.

The missing context from our perspective? It would have been great to hear more thinking on opportunities in emerging markets where the lack of baggage in the form of legacy websites and systems could see organisations leap-frog much of Europe’s current stasis and get their strategies correct straight out of the blocks.

Social is getting serious

The presence of @AlisonWoo, Social Media Director for BMS was something of a coup for the event organisers.

Unlike many of the sector’s social commentators, Alison has worked out there in the real world and her personal experience and affiliations are far closer to the likes of the Altimeter Group’s @CharleneLi and @BrianSolis than to just the often insular social voices from within the world of pharma #SocMed itself.

A very welcome perspective all round – particularly when coupled with the insights of @pharmaguapa and the perennially crowd-pleasing @Jedi_Roach.

Most striking in the event’s discussions on social was the focus on the increasingly mature global HCP network players (a well-deserved focus, and one long championed by @LenStarnes who must be delighted to see more and more people coming round to his brand of thinking).

Again, kudos to @DigitalPharma for bringing on board not just the familiar – and always welcome – voice of Tim Ringrose from Doctors.net.uk, but also global perspectives from Oxana Kolosova of Russia’s Ivrach and Erden Asena from Doktorsitesi in Turkey where the opportunities in terms of HCP volumes are staggering (here’s hoping we hear from China’s DXY next time around…).

The missing context from our perspective? There was a palpable buzz in the room during the panel on Physician networks. Particularly when HCP participants lavished praise on the professional benefits they reaped from their participation within Doctors.net.

Would have loved more discussion around how might pharma gain similar advocacy for its own HCP social initiatives – these include sponsored communities delivered through partners such as Physz or (as highlighted briefly at the event) Esanum’s COOL community, provided to Italian oncologists thanks to support from Eli Lilly.

Gamification is gaining proper meaning

A lot of discussion of Pharma’s exploration of digi-jargon buzzword de nos jours “gamification” has centred on Boehringer’s Syrum.

It’s a topic that’s been done to death elsewhere, but having Sylvester Arnab from Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute up on the Digital Pharma stage helped re-frame the key concepts that properly define this space.

Much like the guys over at Games for Health in the States, Sylvester’s team is focused on using the mechanics of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to drive better patient behaviours and outcomes.

In short, a properly serious look at a serious topic rather than just a simplistic skating over the surface of a topic that’s about far much more than ‘games’ themselves.

The missing context from our perspective? To replay my own contribution from the floor in response to the question of how to “sell gamification in the board room”, I think the topic needs to be reframed not in buzzword terms, but in the language of ‘motivational design’.

There are also some key frameworks and approaches (behavioural economics being the most obvious example) that can be brought into play to help build cases for investment in this area. The US offering of Healthprize for example might be a bit too nakedly commercial to play well for European pharma, but the thinking is clearly there – so learn from it.

Likewise, I’d recommend a deep dive into some of the pioneering initiatives from US insurers such as Humana – who when I met them at the inaugural Games for Health Congress in Boston back in 2009 both blew my mind and shaped my current thinking in this area.

Finally, as with all these events, it’s genuinely interesting to hear the perspectives of my own peers in the consulting and agency space and to observe how they try to get their viewpoints across to current and perspective clients.

On this note, a very special mention needs to go to @darcyemma from Complete Digital.

Rather than taking up podium space, she contributed from the floor not as a supplier but as a deeply involved participant in real world healthcare issues. Considered, incisive and inspiring – very much how it should be done. Thank you.

Duncan Arbour is European Digital Strategy Lead at inVentiv Health. Obviously, these views are entirely his own and should not be seen as being endorsed by anyone. 

On that note, thanks again to all at @DigitalPharma for having us, and for @JMercadoExL, six words for you my friend: “Park Avenue leads to Skid Row”. See you on the other side. 

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