Pharma: Leadership is the most decisive factor for a digital program’s success or failure.

Small-Ad-Agency-AdvantageAccording to McKinsey Global Survey results executives most often attribute the success of digital programs to managerial factors—senior management’s interest and attention, internal leadership, good program management, and alignment between organizational structure and goals— and are less likely to cite any technical considerations.  In fact, across most of the C-suite, larger shares of respondents report that their companies’ senior executives are now supporting and getting involved in digital initiatives.  However, this is an area where pharma still lags badly.

When was the last time you saw a Chief Digital Officer at a pharma company ? [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]McKinsey says that 30% of companies surveyed now have a Chief Digital Officer[/inlinetweet].  Yet organizational issues can also hinder companies’ efforts to meet goals and see the real impact of digital. As in 2012, executives most often say misaligned organizational structures are the biggest challenge their companies face in meeting digital goals. This is followed by insufficiently reworked business processes (to take advantage of the digital opportunities) and difficulty finding functional talent (such as data scientists or digital marketers). 

What are considered poor organizational structures?

(1) Taking more than 1 week to add relevant content to your website because you need internal buy-in.  When news breaks around your product or disease state patients want answers now.


(2) Requiring weeks/months of meetings, even to make small changes to your website.

(3) Using vanity metrics to quantify the success of your digital marketing – it doesn’t matter how many people saw your online ad, what matters is what they did as a result.

(4) Having a digital marketing represent a small part of your marketing analytics dashboard because other channels come first.

(5) Not having a dedicated digital marketing department with an experienced eMarketing person at the helm.

In the end good leadership can overcome obstacles and transform pharma into digital marketing powerhouses.  However to get there they need to look at processes as much as talent.