Transforming pharma commercial models in the age of the digital citizen

Transforming pharma commercial models in the age of the digital citizen

By Brian Fox and Paul Magill
Transforming pharma commercial models in the age of the digital citizen

Digital citizens—astute consumers of information and social media—require pharma to meet their expectations at each point on the decision journey. Leading companies are updating their commercial models in five ways.

“Listen to your customer” is a business truism that approaches cliché, but the consequences of not adapting commercial models to market shifts can be severe. Ask anyone who experienced IBM’s near-death in the 1990s. Its customer base had largely shifted from centralized IT departments that bought mainframes to decentralized buyers of desktop computers, but IBM hadn’t responded (Fortune magazine labeled it a “dinosaur”). It took a CEO change and a decade of commercial transformation—major layoffs, massive reallocation of budgets across sales and marketing, and billions of dollars in acquisitions—to create new go-to-market capabilities such as a business consulting front end to the salesforce. IBM, of course, famously survived that transition and went on to thrive again in the era of e-business. Rivals who did not adapt, such as DEC, did not thrive.

This lesson is as germane in today’s hyperdigital world as it was in the 1990s. IBM’s commercial model had been the envy of the world for decades before the 1990s. IBM only changed it after understanding the extent of its customers’ changes. In today’s pharmaceutical industry, many companies have strong, effective sales, marketing, and go-to-market activities, but a market shift is under way: the digital era is changing how millions of people think about and manage their health.

About the author(s)

Brian Fox is a senior partner in New Jersey. Paul Magill is an alumnus of McKinsey’s Stamford office.
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