It’s been nearly a decade since the first sales reps walked into doctors’ offices armed with the first iPads. Back then, this was innovative, and with a few interactive digital detail aids, the novelty of this “closed-loop-marketing” capability created new opportunities for customer engagement. Back then moving the CRM to the cloud was also a great business case in itself.

Today, customer expectations and field force needs are very different. An app with animated slides built-in and some basic features such as call planning, sample tracking, the ability to capture meeting details, and the few digital features that have been added on since then like triggered email and next best action, aren’t enough to keep your customers engaged and your field and medical experts motivated. The “move-it-to-cloud” cloud business case has also run its course.

Adapting to the New “Digitally Savvier” Normal

The field force from primary care and specialty reps to MSLs, KAMs, and other types of modern roles now needs more intelligent tools to keep up with their digitally savvier customers. By 2020, it’s expected that 67% of HCPs will be digital natives, which means, in just a few years’ time, all medical doctors who graduated after 1995 will represent two-thirds of all HCPs and will prefer the information and services delivered to them digitally and in perfect coordination with analog ways for a wholesome customer experience.

​As such, there is no time like the present to start gearing up for these higher digital expectations, if only to get ahead of your competition. It’s not just about having more multichannel capabilities and just capturing the “move-to-cloud” cloud benefits; to keep up with these new customer expectations and field force needs, omnichannel must climb completely new heights, new compliance issues like consent and privacy need to be addressed, even all the surrounding operations such as content creation and data management must also make giant leaps toward modernization. With this in mind, and after several discussions, surveys, and industry insights, we have gathered a list of top reasons why most life sciences leaders are looking to move to a more modern CRM.​

1 – Doesn’t Meet the Needs of Many Markets

Not all markets are made equal. Several markets have important field force and compliance needs that are very different from others. For example, China uses WeChat for customer engagement; digital consent is as much customer engagement as anything else in the European Union; Russian privacy regulators approve only a few countries for personal data transfers; a channel dedicated to live medical inquiries using MSLs instead of the traditional sales reps in doctors’ offices is becoming more norm than innovation in the United States; using smartphones instead of tablets for customer engagement is unavoidable in several Asian and Latin American markets for various local cultural reasons; and so many more.

2 – Not Everyone Can Justify the Business Case

CRM platforms are a big ticket today and the economics don’t work for several countries, divisions, or product groups with intense pricing or other business pressures. Even when provisioned centrally, many users still refuse to use its key features, or worse, barely use the platforms beyond call recording and sampling. To top it off, after rolling out the platform, there usually is a realization that there were all kinds of unmet needs or operational requirements that lead to further costs. And what about the cost of doing innovative things like AI? Well, in most cases these features are not only extra – they break the bank.

3 – No Real Intelligence for Users and Customers

Its 2018, isn’t it? Time to teach that virtual assistant new skills! Oh, wait… there is no virtual assistant built into your CRM, is there? What about bots to answer simple medical questions? Still no? What about predictive insights based on deep customer graphs?… Not familiar with that term? It’s time to catch up! And as for the missing intelligence in your CRM; don’t feel bad. You aren’t the only one feeling a little behind the times!

Most life sciences leaders aren’t taking advantage of these great advances in data and technology, but a few pioneers are starting to innovate. According to Gartner’s recent research, nearly 50% of CIOs currently plan to deploy AI in some form.2

4 – The CRM is Seen as A Burden, Instead of A Benefit

Can you believe utilization rates for CRMs, beyond simple meeting recording and sampling, are as low as 22%?3 Outrageous isn’t it? In fact, it can be as low as 10%. Makes you wonder why there is so much money and effort put into the whole thing?…

The issue may be that users feel like they have to work for the system rather than have the system work for them. Consider the usage rates of other systems; LinkedIn is a great example. As of April 2017, LinkedIn is estimated to have more than 250 million active users!4  Wow – now that’s usage!

It’s not about enforcing a procedure or tying it to a monetary incentive, users must have something in it for them. New insights on how they should improve their performance, knowledge, and relationships, as well as an intuitive interface, are needed for everyday use and should be available on any device. This is how users fall in love with their business tools.

5 – More Data Management, Less Insights

Data is king, indeed! – but, pharma and biotech still have a lot of difficulties getting to real insights about their customers. There are so many data sources in the mix, so many metrics to standardize from various channels, markets, and divisions, and so many data residency and interdependency issues to consider. And most of all, automation in managing and harmonizing, and validating the data flows is limited. CRMs also typically don’t seem to be able to output impactful insights requiring third parties and the add-on data warehouses or data lakes or ETLs are heavy investments. Even after all kinds of investment, Microsoft Excel might in the end be the tool that is most used.

What’s interesting is that other industries that are able to generate truly insightful customer metrics, tend to also more easily manage their data flow through modern advances in automation and other modern techniques, leaving room to invest in the actual generation of insights.

6 – Content Creation Takes Ages

You may have noticed that content like detail aids or email templates is taking longer and longer to create and get approved. Even if the central teams develop the strategic vision and hand over the wireframes and assets to local markets or agencies, it takes too much time and too many dollars to get to field deployment, due to local considerations and because all the promotional review committee procedures are essential for compliance.

On average, a detail aid can cost up to 500k USD and take many months to deploy in the field – customers are waiting too long to see something new and interesting, and field force teams are left frustrated when they can’t show it. Advances in content creation and management can alleviate this burden and is necessary to improve customer engagement.

7 – Customer Engagement is Just Average or Below

You may have noticed that your customers just aren’t engaged nor reporting as many positive experiences as compared to how other industries engage their customers. The monopolization of life sciences CRM by one or two providers over the recent years has created a very tactical approach to customer engagement, where deploying a system, even just the same system everywhere, has become an end goal. A more strategic approach could allow your business and IT leaders to seek a competitive edge by carefully evaluating the impact of your CRMs on customer experiences – giving you an opportunity to consider the full gamut of functionalities, innovation, operational enablement, and overall economics needed to win customers’ attention today.

It’s time to demonopolize life sciences CRM, look for new strategic choices that create more intelligent experiences for customers and users, remove the barriers to meaningful engagement, and raise the level of digital operations for content and data so they are a true enabler rather than a limiter.

Connect with us to see what modern customer engagement like Exeevo Omnipresence could look like for life sciences when the needs of your digitally savvy customers are built into your CRM.


  1. LBi Health and PM Live. PM Live Website. February 2014. “Infographic: Digitally-native HCPs” Accessed May 16, 2018.
  1. Stamford, Conn., February 13, 2018. “Gartner says nearly half of CIOs are planning to deploy artificial intelligence. ”Gartner Web site. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  1. Digital Savvy Healthcare Sales Rep Report May 2017.
  1. Fortune, April 23, 2017. Accessed July 1, 2018.
  1. TGAS, August 2017. Advisors, Brand Marketing Database.