CRM Is Rx for Pharmaceutical Companies
Analytics functions boost widespread adoption
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CRM is quickly becoming the technology drug of choice to the pharmaceutical industry. Due to the benefits of analytics, the pharmaceutical industry takes advantage of CRM technology about two thirds more than other fields. In fact, 60 percent of drug companies are currently rolling out or already have implemented CRM, contrasted with 38 percent of other global companies, according to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc. The findings resulted from a survey in which 20 pharmaceutical companies and 1,026 other companies were asked where they were in the CRM implementation process. Forty percent of pharmaceutical firms reported having a CRM rollout in progress, and 20 percent had already completed an implementation. That compares to 17 percent of other businesses that reported implementations in progress, and 21 percent with finished implementations, the report said. CRM vendors focusing on the pharmaceutical space were not surprised by the findings. "Finally, someone who isn't wearing a shirt with a Dendrite logo is saying what we've been saying for a while now," says Rick Rose, senior vice president of Dendrite, a Morristown, N.J.--based provider of CRM and sales force automation solutions to the pharmaceutical and medical markets. Dendrite's customers include Pfizer Inc., Novartis Corp., Eli Lilly and Company, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. "The key to CRM in pharma is analytics," says Eric Brown, research director for Forrester Research Healthcare Group. By using analytics pharmaceutical companies can uncover, analyze, and leverage patient data to improve the effectiveness of their sales forces and, ultimately, boost prescription volume. Rose agrees, saying that analytical tools are needed because of the unique sales methods in the pharmaceutical space. Unlike other businesses in which a service is being provided directly to customers, pharmaceutical firms influence doctors, who in turn write prescriptions to patients, Rose says. That means that these companies do not have direct contact with customers. "Just having tech-enabling tools doesn't solve the problem," Rose says. "Pharma is very unique and so is the way data is collected and analyzed compared to other markets." According to the Forrester report, 74 percent of pharmaceutical firms embrace CRM for sales functions and 68 percent for marketing. Only 16 percent of pharmaceutical firms plan to integrate CRM with customer service and market research. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say that the biggest challenges to implementing CRM is getting commitment and internal buy-in, while 32 percent say they face the challenge of organizing around customers versus organizing around brands. --Lisa Picarille
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