Cegedim’s annual industry survey, 2012 US Pharma Insights, reveals that while more pharma companies are using social media and mobile platforms to enhance their sales and marketing initiatives, budgets did not reflect an increase in social media spend. Internal alignments are also shifting, with more people citing executive management as the main sponsors of investment in new technology platforms rather than traditional IT departments.
Pharma employees have more readily embraced key social media venues in the past year, with 96% of participants present on LinkedIn, 70% on Facebook, and 37% on Twitter, compared to 54%, 32%, and 9% in 2011, respectively. Together, they account for an average 36% increase in use of these platforms. While social media use among survey respondents have shot up, budgets fail to reflect an enthusiasm for such exploits: 29% of companies spent less than 5% of their budgets on social media in 2011 and 50% have spent only that much in 2012; spend in the 5-10% range increased by a mere one percent and declined in the 10% and beyond range by an average of 4.5%. Overall, it means that while more companies are participating in the medium, as companies engage they tend to spend the same or less.
Another interesting find in this survey is that companies have undergone a marked shift in priorities. Compared with 29% the previous year, 55% of participants cite strategy/business planning/business development as the primary driver of business model and process change. Marketing/brand teams, commercial operations and regulatory/compliance all saw declines in the neighborhood of 11% in terms of leading the pace of change. This aligns with executive management being seen as the primary driver of technology changes, growing from 28% to 46% in 2011, in contrast to IT’s decline in influence, sliding from 28% to 18%. What is clear here is that the imperative for a more robust technological infrastructure comes from those with the primary role in allocating capital investment and assessing budget spend.
With social media and mobile use becoming more prevalent in the marketplace, pharma is coming to embrace new communications and information technology. The big question is how well individual companies do in leveraging this investment to accurately inform the business and create new opportunities with the customer base.