mindtalks artificial intelligence: How to design an omnichannel AI ecosystem for optimum customer engagement – MedCity News – picked by mindtalks

Healthcare professionals (HCPs) have never been easy to reach. But today – between the deluge of communication through digital channels, the increasingly complex landscape of therapies and treatment protocols, and the expectation for highly personalized interactions in all aspects of consumer life – the bar for what merits HCP attention is higher than ever. If brands want to get through to physicians in a meaningful way, commercial teams must ensure everything from the message to timing and channel is clearly tailored to their needs and interests.  

A decade ago – prior to artificial intelligence (AI) becoming such a powerful tool to engage customers – life sciences organizations often had to rely on monolithic, single-vendor solutions instead of specialized, best-of-breed technology providers. In addition, the benefits of specialized solutions were more difficult to measure and realize. Today, this ecosystem of technology can integrate AI and data into a coordinated plan of customer engagement. With advanced technologies easing the integration burden of data, strategy, AI, workflow, and analytics, organizations are no longer forced to place ‘all their eggs in one basket’ with a single vendor…nor should they.

By taking an ecosystem approach, life sciences organizations can enjoy solutions that are ready to perform as soon as they’re implemented with the flexibility to adapt in the future. This approach also enables companies to take advantage of the power of modern intelligence solutions. AI and big data/analytics have been identified as the top technologies that will transform pharmaceutical drug discovery and commercialization – according to GlobalData. Nearly one-third of survey respondents believe that AI/analytics will play a major role in optimizing marketing and sales.

Here are three tips for designing an omnichannel AI ecosystem that maximizes investments while remaining nimble in today’s dynamic and competitive market.

  1. Focus on core competencies: How do vendors position themselves within the larger ecosystem? 

Challenge technology partners to explain their sense of urgency for working well with others to generate value for customers. Break down your needs into six ecosystem categories, where there are a range of platforms, tools, and technologies that may be in various stages of maturity at your organization.

  • Internal & External Data
    Data companies compile or generate the critical inputs for commercial strategies, analytical models, and more. The types of data sets can include HCP profiles, markets, social/media, EHR/claims/Rx, research publications, insurance and government information, socioeconomic and behavioral, lab/diagnostic, ERP, budgets, personnel/performance, channel engagement metrics, and more.
  • Data Integration & Curation
    The platforms or systems for managing and integrating data, applications, and APIs from disparate sources, including both cloud-resident and on-premises endpoints, allow data to be leveraged effectively by other tools and users. These include data warehouses, Extract/Transform/Load (ETL) and integration systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, traditional insights/analytics applications, and customer data platforms.
  • Strategy & Planning
    Methodologies and algorithms to rank and classify HCPs into segments for different go-to-market campaigns and programs, which are composed of tactics and rules for specific actions based on a triggering event or series of events. Examples include HCP segmentation, content and creative development, marketing campaigns and customer journey design.
  • Omnichannel Intelligence & Optimization
    Algorithmic analysis, distillation, and prioritization of all possible actions to determine the next best action within and across channels for both the user and the target customer. For instance, omnichannel optimization, next-best-action, and predictive insights.
  • Omnichannel Execution & Channel Activation
    Technology that enables marketing, sales, and medical affairs teams to engage with HCPs across multiple, in-person and digital channels. These solutions include marketing automation, sales and medical user apps, and third-party publishers.
  • Systems Integration & Professional Services
    Services vendors and consultants that implement and integrate systems by deploying a team of IT consultants to provide professional services for a specified scope and rate are a key, final part of the ecosystem.

There are key players in each of these categories, and while some may fit into several, each category typically has one standout. Therefore, the key to maximizing success comes from ensuring that the best of each category integrates with the whole ecosystem.

For instance, some companies’ primary focus is omnichannel intelligence and optimization. As a result, they invest considerable effort integrating with the upstream data and strategy layers of the ecosystem as well as downstream execution channels. Even with modest upstream data, omnichannel AI can start to generate impactful next-best-action recommendations and insights, growing smarter and more powerful as organizations layer in richer profiles and data sets.

The downstream systems are an equally important consideration, as the best insights and suggestions have little impact if they’re not acted upon by marketing, field, and medical teams. To make user adoption as frictionless as possible, companies need seamless integration with omnichannel execution and channel activation platforms to reach users when and where they already work.

For sales and medical teams, users need to be able to plan and execute their engagement plans with HCPs with well-curated and timely suggestions and insights about their accounts and key opinion leaders – whether that’s on a desktop, via video conference, or in-person with a mobile device. For brand teams, this can mean ensuring suggestions and insights integrate into marketing automation, journey orchestration and campaign management systems.

  1. Start with a smart foundation: How can the right combination of data, strategy and technology amplify impact?

There is often low-hanging fruit – i.e., existing internal data sources – that generates impact while also laying a good foundation to expand in the future. There is a misconception that companies must start with optimized, clean, and fully organized data to see any results from an AI solution. However, companies with even an imperfect data foundation can be successful if they practice good data hygiene with systems that most organizations already have and use daily, such as the CRM. With clean CRM data and up-to-date territory alignments between teams, and other fundamentals, commercial teams can start leveraging the core competencies of each technology partner to ensure HCP interactions are relevant to their specialty, practice setting, and personal preferences.

For example, a company may have rich data on HCP activities in research publications and social media that can now be used in targeted field rep suggestions to test how well a new campaign strategy is performing. Or a team may be leveraging a new marketing automation platform for better digital communications but need a way to optimize and coordinate which messages are delivered by global marketing campaigns and which are better delivered via in-person visit or virtual rep detail.

Each of these capabilities alone can have value. But together in an ecosystem, companies can supercharge these investments and better measure how each is performing relative to its cost.

  1. Evaluate with the future in mind: Whose roadmaps will activate and accelerate your organizational vision?

While vendors may have areas of focus, the market will continue to evolve in new and unexpected ways that challenge those focus areas. Therefore, it’s important to develop a vision that spans multiple years. In addition, adopt solutions that not only integrate seamlessly but do so in a way that enables a company to measure the impact of each ecosystem component quickly.

For example, you may have recently invested in analytics models to improve HCP segmentation, but it takes an ecosystem to verify whether the new models are working effectively and where they can be improved. Or, you may have an agency developing interesting new content and campaigns for your brand, but with only modest ability to measure the short- and long-term results. By integrating those campaigns and content into an omnichannel ecosystem, you will be able to continuously measure, adapt and achieve your vision.

Life sciences companies cannot prolong adoption of AI to guide customer interactions without risking the loss of HCPs’ attention, or worse, their trust. There are too many channels for commercial teams to adeptly coordinate and burnt-out HCPs are increasingly overwhelmed by impersonal content pushed out to them from all directions. Fortunately, some organizations now recognize the urgency to invest in AI.

Our 2021 analysis showed an unprecedented 45% increase in AI-driven omnichannel actions by customers, directly impacting the customer experience of more than 700,000 HCPs. Further, leading life sciences companies are now scaling AI capabilities simultaneously across multiple geographies, therapeutic areas, and brands rather than taking a market-by-market approach. One top-20 biotech has expanded use of its AI platform across 46 countries. Also, 2021 marked the first year that more than half of new omnichannel programs included smaller markets at program launch. It’s a start.

As Bill Gates famously said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Likewise, it’s important to craft both a pragmatic and ambitious vision to drive progress within your ecosystem of vendors – especially when it comes to the complexity of implementing an AI-driven commercial solution to improve engagement with physicians.

Photo: LumineImages, Getty Images


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