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How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Impacting Pharma Sales Interactions with Healthcare Providers | Blog

With the world facing an unprecedented health crisis, one group shouldering the brunt of the challenge is our healthcare workers, who are battling the threat from the front lines. Under the circumstances, their interactions with pharma sales representatives have naturally taken a back seat, with many healthcare providers closing down access. This reality is accelerating pharma firms’ shift toward a virtual sales organization, and not only for the short term.

The amount of time, access, and influence hospitals have been willing to grant pharma sales reps has been dropping for quite some time now, and face-to-face engagements have declined significantly over the years. According to a survey from DRG’s 2019 annual ePharma Physician Report, 54 percent of physician respondents said they saw pharma reps in person in 2019, down from 67 percent in 2018.

DRG ePharma Physician Report 2019 – % of physician respondents on pharma rep interactions

Source: ePharmaPhysician® US 2019

Today, given the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers, including hospitals and clinics, are increasingly refusing in-person visits from pharma sales reps, and pharma companies such as Biogen and Global Blood Therapeutics have themselves suspended face-to-face meetings. In turn, virtual interactions between reps and healthcare providers are increasing, with BMS, GSK, Pfizer, and Sanofi – to name a few – scaling up the use of remote technology to ensure continued engagement with healthcare professionals. We expect this progress to continue even after the pandemic’s threat has abated.

However, not all pharma firms are well equipped for this shift; there’s a wide degree of variance when it comes to the maturity of their virtual healthcare provider engagement capabilities. Not surprisingly, the many digital solutions that exist in the current market can help them. Several software vendors and IT services providers have developed innovative CRM solutions, such as around personalized engagement, interactive detailing, and live video through intuitive mobile apps and web portals, in order to effectively engage healthcare providers virtually.

In response to the crisis, many vendors have recently begun to enhance product functionality. For instance, Veeva recently introduced new capabilities for remote drug sampling in Veeva CRM Engage Meeting. The company also announced several alliances for digital field engagement.

Yet, going forward, getting virtual sales right could be a major deciding factor for whether or not pharma firms are able to convert extensive R&D efforts and patent wins into commercially successful therapies.

Here are our suggestions on how pharma firms can successfully pivot to a virtual sales :

  • Realign budgets Drive C-suite endorsement of initiatives whose goal is improving virtual engagement with healthcare practitioners. Money saved on aspects such as travel and organizing marketing conferences/gatherings should be diverted to investments in IT and content creation.
  • Engage technology partners to have the right solutions in place Assess the landscape of solutions from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and IT services providers. Look for verticalized CRM solutions meant particularly for healthcare provider engagement. Prioritize quickly implementable and scalable solutions that give the assurance of little downtime and offer omni-channel (email, web, mobile, etc.) and personalized engagement.
  • Create compelling content Rethink marketing strategies. Content delivered virtually needs to be all the more engaging, detailed, and easy to consume. Such content could include live videos, webinars, intuitive brochures, and web/mobile portals. Generating personalized content can improve conversion rates. Finally, content needs to be such that healthcare providers can consume it in their own time and follow up on as needed, minimizing the need for live interactions.
  • Train representatives to effectively engage and deliver information in virtual settings Facilitate a cultural shift in sales operations from being in-person to virtual through dedicated training programs. Representatives need to utilize the time saved on travel to draft strategies for more engaging interactions. They also need to be trained on using specific technology tools for provider engagement.

While healthcare workers are bound to be overburdened and under tremendous stress in these times, this is also a tough time for pharma sales representatives. Assertive sales behavior might come across as being insensitive, but at the same time, healthcare practitioners need to be kept aware of new therapies for ailments apart from COVID-19. Shifting to a virtual model represents a huge change. Engaging with empathy and showing flexibility in working around physician schedules will be paramount in the near term, as pharma enterprises come to grips with what could potentially be a new, or next, normal.

 

A New ‘Working’ Model | In the News

Let’s talk WFH, the new ‘Work from Home’ concept that has gripped corporates in India and the rest of the world, as businesses progressively embrace this new, forced phenomenon in a world crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic and its inscrutable death-grip on companies and economies. Here again, there have been two distinct huddles in industry sectors worldwide — the corporate haves and the have-nots. The ‘haves’ include sectors such as information technology and IT-enabled Services (ITeS), creative writers and journalists, communications agencies and bloggers, etc. They can function, albeit on crutches and at a slower pace. For the ‘have-nots’, the battle is going to be long and gory, for airlines, the hospitality sector, travel and tourism, real estate, automobile manufacturing and ancillaries, and so on. For them, the writing is on the wall. There will be no quick-fix or succour available for a long time.

Companies, while letting go, are getting their own back as well. As stated, desperate times call for desperate measures. ‘Quartz’ recently reported that some Indian IT companies have implemented employee productivity trackers like webcam-based movement capture, hourly time-sheet entry and of keyboards to ensure that employees at home are, indeed, working. Yugal Joshi, vice-president at Texas-based consultancy Everest Group, was quoted by Quartz: “This indicates a deep-rooted malaise in Indian IT & ITeS industry where the senior management generally mistrusts people,” he added.

Read more in Millenium Post

COVID-19 Is Truly a Black Swan Event, and We Can’t Rely on History to Predict the Outcome | Blog

The last thing the world needs is another “hot-take” on COVID-19, but the biggest fallacy I see as people think/talk/write about the post-COVID-19 economic scenario is to compare it to previous economic recessions.

Why is this different?

The 2008-09 crisis couldn’t be more different than what we are seeing today, and the post-COVID-19 world is going to be wildly different across dimensions. The genesis of the 2008-09 crisis was badly crafted financial instruments, which impacted developed markets more than others and necessitated select bailouts to resuscitate consumer demand.

COVID-19 is much more broad-based in impact. Not only will it reshape business, but it will reshape intrinsic human behavior and consumer preferences. At this point, I would disregard any economic projections of this pandemic’s impact. We don’t know enough at this stage, nor how long it will take to play out (is the current stimulus enough? when do we recover, if at all? – you get the drift).

What do we know?

So, what we can say with a degree of certainty at this point? This pandemic will have wide-ranging implications:

  • Asset ownership will need a rethink – nobody wants to “own” risks on their balance sheets
  • CX will be paramount and essential for productivity – consumer expectations will never be the same
  • We will see a fundamental transformation of how and where work gets done – there’s a new recognition that a remote and distributed model works, if done right
  • Enterprises will try to conserve cash and look for self-funded transformation – no, it is not an oxymoron
  • Piecemeal digital transformation doesn’t work – go big or go home
  • Sourcing will not be linear and needs a rethink – organizations will truly need to rethink how and where they derive value

We are continually monitoring the situation to help our clients understand how this situation plays out. Our COVID-19 resource center has our latest and evolving thinking. Short-sighted and clickbaity takes do us no favors in this effort to understand the post-COVID-19 world. Please stay safe and curious.

Customer Experience During COVID-19 | Blog

This is one blog of many that explore a range of topics related to COVID-19 issues and will naturally evolve as events unfold and facts reveal themselves. The blogs are in no way intended to provide scientific or health expertise, but rather focus on the implications and options for service delivery organizations.

These insights are based on our ongoing interactions with organizations operating in impacted areas, our expertise in global service delivery, and our previous experience with clients facing challenges from the SARS, MERS, and Zika viruses, as well as other unique risk situations.

Every day, new and more rigid social distancing and quarantining measures are put in place to address growing global concerns over COVID-19. The rising number of people under lockdown around the world is leading to huge shifts in customer demand, behavior, and expectations.

Some industries are being hit harder than others. For example, travel and hospitality is struggling with huge drops in revenue while trying to meet skyrocketing customer service demands for cancellations and date changes. Demand for luxury goods is declining as consumers cut back their consumption. E-commerce is booming with in-store shoppers moving to home delivery. Supply chains are under pressure, and healthcare is transforming with increasing adoption of telemedicine.

Near the end of 2019, we conducted a market survey on key enterprise issues and enterprises’ global services plans for 2020. As you see, survey participants believed customer experience (CX) would be their top priority investment area even if the economy weakened.

It’s true that the severity and impact of COVID-19 is higher than what organizations expected when they thought about a possible economic downturn. But we believe that enterprises that continue to focus on their customers and invest in CX have an opportunity to emerge after this crisis abates with a running start.

And one of the key levers they should pull to help satisfy their customers’ needs and expectations is their customer-facing talent.

Work-at-home agents

With the health and safety of the agent workforce top of mind, organizations and their contact center leaders, across industries and geographies, are leveraging the work-at-home agent (WAHA) model as an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis. Social isolation edicts mean that agents can no longer report to work at brick and mortar centers, so enterprises and service providers alike are scrambling to ramp up their work-at-home capacities, asking their existing brick and mortar agents to keep the lights on by working from home. Understandably, they’re facing multiple challenges while ramping up, including procuring laptops and headsets, moving desktop computers from centers to agents’ homes, ensuring security and compliance measures, and training and upskilling agents for a work-at-home environment.

Enterprises and contact center providers that are outperforming their peers in transitioning their agent workforce to a work-at-home model are excelling in three areas:

  • Level of preparedness: Organizations with experience and protocols around WAHA operations, access to prospective agents, and requisite technologies have been able to cope with the transition better than others
  • Foresight and planning: Organizations that reviewed the COVID-19 outbreak statistics regularly and worked with their partners to understand agent availability, technology, and environmental constraints were much better positioned to react appropriately and plan for the transition
  • Speed of execution: Organizations that have been able to make the swift decision to migrate to a work-at-home delivery model (even if the model did not exist in their business previously), work with government agencies to obtain necessary sign-offs and waivers, and develop out-of-the-box solutions to challenges during the transition have had greater success in delivering CX consistently during these uncertain times

Accessing more talent

Organizations may well need more agents to help them deliver the best CX during this pandemic. And because the economic downturn is displacing a lot of people, particularly in service-oriented jobs, there’s an opportunity to access a large pool of newly available talent. This gig economy-oriented model matches the needs of millennial customers and employees who are digitally-savvy and belong to the ”anywhere, anytime” philosophy toward which the world seems to be moving rapidly.

While global economies are grinding to a halt, some businesses will come out of this crisis better than others. During this period of extreme uncertainty, companies that take speedy action to adopt flexible staffing models and shift to newer ways of working are more likely to succeed.

In subsequent blogs, we’ll be discussing other levers that organizations need to adopt to drive sustained success, such as digital channels, self-service, and chatbot solutions.

In the meantime, take a look at a replay of our recent webinar “Coronavirus – Beyond Hand Sanitizer: Mitigating Business Impact and Uncovering the Positive.

Visit our COVID-19 resource center to access all our COVD-19 related insights.

Infosys Sees a Spot as Insurance Companies Look to Vet Cyber Infra of Clients | In the News

Software services exporter Infosys is looking to win deals from insurance companies to assess the cyber infrastructure of potential clients before they firm up contracts.

While analysts say the market for cyber security services in insurance is growing, Indian service providers are facing competition from global players in this space. “It is unclear that there is a large cyber security TAM (total addressable market) for Indian service providers. It does, however, provide them with a nose under the tent if they can utilise it to engage clients and their cyber security organisations as aresult of the need for this insurance. But I feel this is a clever trick shot, not a fundamental component of a successful cyber security channel to market,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of research and consulting firm Everest Group.

Read more in Economic Times

Analyst Relations Newsletter Q1 2020: Key Highlights from Custom Research

Case #1: Strategic Business Review: Talent Acquisition Services (RPO, MSP, and TTA) market opportunity assessment and detailed recommendations for capturing those opportunities

The client, a leading global MSP & RPO provider, wanted to understand the MSP and RPO landscape – specifically, the MSP and RPO market characteristics and competitor scenario – in 20 countries and strategize its investment priorities. The client asked us to perform a detailed assessment of its capabilities across the countries and help formulate a future plan of action.

We employed a comprehensive and structured approach to perform a detailed outside-in market analysis and assist the client in formulating its strategic plan to expand in the prioritized segments. We created detailed country profiles that included market characteristics (such as size, growth, potential, and penetration, adoption drivers, and competitor scenario. We also looked at our client’s capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses across each of the 20 countries and prioritized segments based on that understanding as well as the market segment’s general attractiveness.

We provided recommendations on the suggested approach – including service offerings, delivery locations, and technology-related issues – for expanding in the prioritized countries. The client used the analysis and recommendations to strategize its investment priorities.

Case #2: Price benchmarking and SLA & KPI analysis for a major MSP & RPO provider

The client, a large North America-focused provider of MSP & RPO services, wanted to benchmark its prices for professional and hourly hires in the US, segregated by volumes and job types. It also wanted to understand commonly used SLAs/KPIs and service levels in the market.

We provided detailed price benchmarks, highlighting the 20th, median, and 80th percentile benchmarks for multiple hire types, across both professional and hourly hire categories and varying volume scenarios across healthcare (clinicians), IT, engineering, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and call center, among others. The client used the benchmark data to validate and adjust its pricing to reflect market rates.

We also provided information on critical SLAs & KPIs used in the market and highlighted the typical service levels used in different deal situations.

Strategic Business Review: Talent Acquisition Services (RPO, MSP, and TTA) market opportunity assessment and detailed recommendations for capturing those opportunities | Case Study

Case #1:

The client, a leading global MSP & RPO provider, wanted to understand the MSP and RPO landscape – specifically, the MSP and RPO market characteristics and competitor scenario – in 20 countries and strategize its investment priorities. The client asked us to perform a detailed assessment of its capabilities across the countries and help formulate a future plan of action.

We employed a comprehensive and structured approach to perform a detailed outside-in market analysis and assist the client in formulating its strategic plan to expand in the prioritized segments. We created detailed country profiles that included market characteristics (such as size, growth, potential, and penetration, adoption drivers, and competitor scenario. We also looked at our client’s capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses across each of the 20 countries and prioritized segments based on that understanding as well as the market segment’s general attractiveness.

We provided recommendations on the suggested approach – including service offerings, delivery locations, and technology-related issues – for expanding in the prioritized countries. The client used the analysis and recommendations to strategize its investment priorities.

Want a Digital Transformation Dream Team? Here’s Who You Need | In the News

The importance of cross-functional teams to digital transformation can’t be understated: They have always been important, says Tony Saldanha, a former IT executive from Procter & Gamble, and the author of ‘Why Digital Transformations Fail.’

According to Jimit Arora, partner at management consultancy Everest Group, “The most effective digital teams have low attrition rates, are co-located near business users, exhibit breadth across multiple disciplines – and depth in a few – and tend to include more experienced professionals rather than recent graduates.”

Read more in DX Journal

For Better or for Worse, the Pink Slip Culture Is India INC’s New Normal | In the News

In 2009, when Tech Mahindra acquired Satyam Computer Services and said it would lay off around 10,000 “surplus staff,” the government intervened and ensured the retrenchment was called off.

“When Indian IT companies chased rapid growth—which is hard to come by now—they kept adding people without realising demand patterns in the future,” Yugal Joshi, vice-president at Texas-based consultancy Everest Group, said. “Indian IT companies created bloated middle management that was pushing paper and managing projects rather than upskilling itself. As the teams become more independent and self-governing to serve the digital world, the need for a classic project manager goes down and therefore, this layer comes under a bigger threat (of getting laid off).”

Read more in Quartz

Everest Group Enterprise Managed Blockchain Analysis Places IBM and Microsoft at the Summit | In the News

The enterprise managed blockchain, or blockchain as a service (BaaS) space, is one which though nascent has many of technology’s fastest horses running in the race. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, who continue to conduct their battle for cloud infrastructure, have well-known stakes in blockchain, as well as many of the ‘second tier’ cloud provides, from Alibaba Cloud, to IBM, to Oracle.

A new report from Everest Group has assessed the runners and riders in managed blockchain platforms – and has put IBM and Microsoft Azure at the top of the tree.

Read more in The Block

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