Álvaro Duque
Digital Marketing Leader
Novartis
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View from the Top

Big Data: A Pillar in Digital Era

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 15:49

Q: Digitalization is changing the healthcare industry. How is Novartis restructuring its internal processes to take advantage of progression in both clients and end consumers?

A: Our efforts focus on providing better solutions and differentiated drugs to our patients. Companies are subject to external market pressures, as pre-established consumer trends must be followed. According to the Mexican Internet Association (AMIPCI), Mexico will see 60 million Internet users in the short term, creating enough pressure to get companies moving. Mobility should be kept in mind as the number of smartphones has surpassed the volume of PCs owned by consumers. All things considered, companies must adapt their communication mechanisms to patients, doctors and end consumers.

Q: What opportunities are there for pharmaceutical enterprises in emerging markets?

A: The market is undergoing an important change. The digital era is considered a crucial time in the fourth industrial revolution and Novartis has benefited from it. A few years back the company implemented its digital transformation initiative. Although it involved multiple areas, it primarily focused on the company’s marketing division. Also, the creation of a digital drug portfolio has placed Novartis at the forefront. We will tackle this new digital inclination from multiple perspectives but mainly through strategic alliances, technological platforms and digital laboratories and marketing. Virtual congresses have become the industry’s latest communication and capacitation format. Through virtual platforms, thousands can access the same information.

Q: How has digitalization impacted both consumer behavior and Novartis’ operations?

A: We find ourselves disrupting previous technology implementations. We are adapting to new working patterns with patients and doctors and they are trying to acclimatize to the new technological wave. Although webpages are nothing new, the market was lacking a comprehensive digital ecosystem to face a new and broader operational modality. It is still too early to have reliable hard data but the trend is swiftly spreading throughout the pharmaceutical industry and results will soon be presented. Although governmental agencies have not caught up to the latest technology trends, we must always consider a country’s health regulations. Novartis’ digital interaction methods must run parallel with Mexico’s legal framework at all times. Data privacy is a huge concern in the industry and we base our work around enforced regulations. Marketing law is quite intricate and Novartis is adhering to it verbatim.

Q: What developments will we see from Novartis’ collaboration with Google?

A: After its digital transformation initiative was put in place the company began creating strategic alliances with key players. The Internet tycoon and its Google Glass development was a perfect fit. Novartis is tackling ophthalmological conditions creating a medical device application with Google Glass that can measure some clinical parameters. We find eye pressure and glucose readings among those. These initiatives will give life to new health and technology applications, which will serve as the foundation to the future of the industry. Big data is a pillar in the digital era and we have partnered with data management enterprises. The amount of analytics needed in this segment is overwhelming. Partnering with them was a natural progression. Even at its most basic layer, sales representatives have a significant amount of big data to manage and process, especially as multi-communication channels shift the face-to-face perspective.

Q: Novartis Mexico invested US$50 million in R&D activities. How will the company benefit from this type of investment and how will it impact the company’s global operations?

A: Novartis bets on R&D, which translates to the number of product developments in the company’s pipeline. It is the largest of its kind. Mexico is one of the leading countries in our headquarters’ global strategy not only because of its large demographics but also due to the interests the company has in the country. We are looking to maintain our position as an R&D leader and Mexico will help us keep on track.