Sunday, May 29, 2011

The core is adaptability

Above interesting image and a good write up on adaptability available here.

While imparting training one often wonders, what is the core output that one is trying to provide to the organization, as a trainer?

Is the concept of training, all about the ability of the raw MR trainee to understand what a visual aid is, and how to do visual aid detailing with pointer, or is it making him understand the importance of retail prescription monitoring? Or is it inspiring him with the interesting complexities of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of a drug?! Or is it impressing him on the approach to marketing, the way the brand is delivered to prospects and customers, ie., internal marketing?!

The answer is yes to all the above questions, yet training is much more than above elements. Verily, training's core output is IMPROVING ADAPTABILITY OF AN ORGANIZATION!!

Change management, adaptability and training

Adaptability is changing oneself or changing a process to fit in to the changes that are occurring (in the environment, internal and external)! In essence, organizations and personnel who are adaptable, are ones who finally grow and survive. Training is an approach that provides organizations and personnel, the knowledge and tools for adaptability!

The need for adaptability is at all levels. The top management, members of middle and lower tiers of management - all require adaptability. The concept of adaptability implies learning and applying new knowledge and tools for growth. Hence, adaptability, training and learning are intertwined processes.

Training for the new recruit

When new MRs or field managers grace training programs, they have definite expectations of empowerment. They are on the look out for product knowledge, field approach tips, and tools that will help them adapt and take on challenges in the market. This adaptability should help the field personnel in 'prospect conversion to customers', and facilitate customer retention. Only when training programs provide skills, knowledge and tools for adaptability, only then will they be perceived as vital and relevant.

Evolving training approaches, strategies, and programs

Training is a very delicate discipline. Trainees may find training experiences useful or useless. This depends on how relevant training programs are. Mere training on product knowledge will not be satisfying. After all, there is 'good to know knowledge' and 'good to use knowledge'. It is the latter type of knowledge that will improve adaptability of the trainees. So it is essential to give practice to trainees so they may equip themselves with talking points of products, only then will they be empowered and adaptable.

Training programs are successful when

a) they empower trainees and enhance adaptability of trainees (to the company culture/environment and to the outer market conditions)
b) during training programs, the trainees are kept highly engaged and they find it fun (while being useful)
c) trainers present training material in 'adult ego state of mind' (not in child ego or parent ego states). It is important to appreciate that trainees in firms are 'grown ups' and are treated as adults, by the trainers. Any delinquent behaviour, or inappropriate trainee behaviour should be dealt with by negative reinforcements, and rewarding positive behaviours of trainees, rather than being a 'controlling parent type of trainer', which will be detrimental to both trainer and trainee. This is easier said than done, because the requirement here is, the trainer should be a very mature, knowledgeable, and emotionally integrated person
d) the focus is on providing training inputs that enhance confidence (fearlessness) and future performance of trainees
e) the training programs provide HOPE. The content, style and presentation should inspire and give hope to trainees that the inputs are truly relevant for enhancing personal effectiveness.

Researching adaptability: Management By Walking About

How to bring in adaptability points in to training programs? The best way that brings in adaptability in to training programs, is MBWA! This stands for Management By Walking About. It refers to the need of trainers to be constantly interactive with present and future trainees, participative in the current processes, and at the same time have a keen mind to learn about market dynamics and environmental fluxes so that the trainer will know the needs of potential trainees in advance, and through his knowledge of market or processes or the environment, the trainer can design training programs that will enhance ADAPTABILITY of trainees (whether they are field personnel or office employees). Training is thus, in its final analysis all about enhancing the learner's adaptability. Only then will training contribute to organizational survival and growth.

PS: Just concluded a good training program at Lucknow!

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Disruptive technologies

We see above the evolution of audio-video products, each technology innovation has disrupted the earlier market! Today, where are the gramaphone records or audio cassettes?!

Innovation is vital for business growth, this is a well known fact - innovations help business enterprises with breakthrough products or services that provide transformational results. Normally, this huge outcome is a result of successful commercialization of a disruptive technology.

A disruptive innovation comes by applying new set of values. It disrupts the current market. For eg., if a EV (electric vehicle) transforms personal transportation, it is a disruptive technology which will affect fortunes of gasoline based vehicles. Tata Nano is such a disruptive technology car. It is all set to enjoy steady growth after its very poor sale performance (in Nov 2010, its sales had dipped to just 500 cars, today its growth is on!).

Sustaining innovations are non-disruptive improvements in products or service. For eg., combining diclofenac with serratiopeptidase for better efficacy in pain management or offering diclofenac potassium in lieu of diclofenac sodium for hypertensive patients (in pain management therapy). However, sustaining innovations need not disrupt the market, even though they can create transformational results.

The holy grail of innovation is now succeeding with disruptive technology in the market.

In pharma business, breakthrough drugs are disruptive technologies that out-date older molecules and create fortunes through the innovator molecule. In H2 receptor blockers, cimetidine created a wave, this was outdated by ranitidine. Today, cimetidine is off the market. Ranitidine in turn got a truncated market through launch of proton pump inhibitors: omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole etc. Thus, disruptive technologies create mega markets and sustained results.

Disruptive technology based products need not come through new molecules in pharma markets, new packaging concepts can disrupt the market and produce exciting results. This has been the case with electrolyte energy drink products in Tetra Pak aseptic technology packaging.

FFS (form fill seal) technology for parenterals that was promoted vigorously by the now defunct Core Laboratories, created a disruptive market and Core was a big name in 1990s for FFS parenterals.

From where do disruptive technologies come?

It has been observed by management experts, disruptive technologies do not come usually from established giants or well established companies, as they are used to working in a particular way. Hence, giants on noticing disruptive technology products or services from other smaller companies often buy them up! This is quite common in the international pharma industry.

Creation of disruptive technologies requires a system reorganization in companies. Most established companies like status quo with incremental product improvements or changes, not uncomfortable quantum restructuring! Hence, most well established companies normally do not produce disruptive technology products or services.

Application of mobile based communication in pharma marketing communication is regarding very disruptive. Biosimilar business is also reckoned to be a disruptive marketing model.

The innovator mindset

The amazing and ceaseless changes in society: empowerment, knowledge and idea dissemination, communication systems, and media improvements (like digital media) is heralding a new era of innovation. In the past, quality of medicines was a qualifier, today, an innovator mindset in pharma field is a necessity for survival and growth. One is forced to have an innovator mindset whether it is evolutionary innovation or disruptive innovation, INNOVATION IS A PREREQUISITE IN MODERN DAY PHARMA BUSINESS!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scenario planning in pharma


People work. Why? The reasons are many - such as, NEED, GREED, FEAR, PASSION, INTEREST, OBSESSION, LOVE ... however, the common denominator of every reason is - trying to achieve a particular idea of success. It is this vision of success that drives individuals to work or activity.

The success concept may be simple (such as going to a good restaurant for lunch) or complex (like producing a successful biogeneric). This drive to succeed makes people, teams and organizations work in a particularly way and in a certain direction.

The direction and intensity of work depends on the inputs of decision making. These inputs come from the internal or external environment. The direction and intensity of work sometimes comes from serendipity too. However, firms are always bothered about the direction and intensity of work, as it influences business results.

Companies look at past experiences to create a strategic work plan. Or companies look at possible future scenarios and then plan their work activities. For instance, the futuristic disease trend is CARDIOMETABOLIC disorders. Hence, a firm's activities will be to address the near- future scenario where there will be about 15 crore diabetic patients in India. Hence, scenario planning attitude implies, creating products and services that address this emerging market.

Scenario planning is heavily dependent on knowledge of present and emerging social, lifestyle, disease, economic, cultural, business, political and technological trends. Based on this understanding value delivery mechanisms are engineered so that a firm will have good sales in future time. Scenario planning is the bedrock of long term range planning. It involves understanding SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) matrix of a firm in present time, and planning future outcomes.

Rise of pharmacy power

The emerging scenario points out to the developing power of pharmacies. Organized pharmacy chains in India are getting stronger. Med Plus is today a well entrenched chain. Hetero Pharmacy (a part of Hetero group) is now executing expansion plans to have more retail outlets. Understanding this growing power of pharmacies, and the importance of pharmacies in influencing the outcomes of pharmaceutical marketers, pharma companies have now started chalking out robust plans to address and partner this pharmacy growth.

GSK (as per Chronicle Pharmabiz, 5.5.2011) is now setting up a strong community pharmacy team, which will empower pharmacies to communicate better with patients. By aligning with this pro-pharmacy trend, GSK will be in a better position to retain and expand its shelf space. Retail availability is very vital for pharma success.

In coming 2 to 3 years, we will see pharmacies getting pampered, as much as doctors, to improve pharma marketing fortunes. Hence, relationship management with pharmacies is inevitable for superior value delivery by pharma marketers.

Media power on the rise

Today, the Third Front of the society, the media, is a very powerful institution. Bureaucrats, rich capitalists, politicians AND MEDIA are the change agents of contemporary society. The jasmine revolution in the Arab world, the growing might of Al Jazeera channel, AND the electronic media coverage of assembly and parliamentary elections, are all examples of the omnipresent media. Attitudes and events are shaped by media. Marketers ought to take cognizance of the media might, particular electronic and digital media while crafting marketing strategies.

CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ has been kind enough to publish my article on THE ERA OF LONG TAIL in the May 5th issue, PLEASE CLICK HERE. However, will this esteemed journal continue in its present form and shape in coming years? Futuristic scenario trends certainly do not indicate this. Chronicle Pharmabiz will probably have an extensive digital footprint in coming 5 years.

For eg., a futuristic scenario may be as follows:

A registered mobile no. in the Chronicle Pharmabiz portal will get sms alerts on his mobile at regular intervals (for eg., everyday at 11.00 am and 4.00 pm) such as:

Benadryl sms headlines: GSK sets up community pharmacy team. Click to read full story.

If interested the internet mobile phone user will read the story, and pay through mobile currency. Digital and convergence technology will surely influence the way information, news and knowledge is consumed by individuals and groups of people. The way knowledge, news and information is presented will also change.

Another example of sms or e-mail alert would be: New Feature just published in Chronicle Pharmabiz: THE ERA OF LONG TAIL, please click to read further.

Hence, digital communication will gain traction, one has to understand the unfolding technology and incorporate it into scenario planning.

Savvy marketers of pharmaceuticals will also herald a new digital era of marketing by creatively employing cloud computing, mobile based internet communication, and portals to TRAIN front line pharma personnel, and communicate with target audiences to influence potential and actual prescribers.

Imagine a pharma marketing organization having a mobile phone database of say 300000 pharmacies across India. At the push of a button, the pharma organization can communicate retail bonus offers to them, or information of new product launches, this will create superb marketing results. This is what GSK is aiming for through its community pharmacy team.

Imagine another campaign: GSK launches special Periton lucky dip offer. Purchase 15 bottles of Periton with retail offer, send us the invoice no. and date. Registered Mobile Nos. providing genuine invoice no. will be automatically enrolled for lucky dip. Lucky mobile nos. stand to win a double door refridgerator!!

Such a seasonal offer will surely cause significant uptake of sales, since cough syrups can be pushed over-the-counter.

Communicating with pharmacies will not only be on educative lines, the connectivity can be employed for significant results across the COMMUNICATION MIX:

  • In personal selling, MRs will get better response from pharmacies that have already been primed with mobile phone based marketing activities
  • In sales promotion: retail bonus and gift offers can be communicated, and this will ensure retail offer benefits are transferred (not blocked by distributors)
  • From publicity angle, digital communication will enthrall pharmacists in an engaging way
  • It establishes a possible two way direct communication between database marketing division and the market retailers, improving business results
In years to come marketing activities will surely be two-way thanks to growth of media, particularly electronic and digital. Marketers will be forced to creatively explore the potential of new media and pharmacies for value delivery, catalysing exchange processes, and enhancing customer delight, while building brands, and enhancing market penetration. It is such efforts that will create the WOW factor, build on trust, improve relations, make a buzz in the market and finally, hold on to customers in this ever-changing and fickle world.

In a static world, where uncertainties, disruptions and changes are seldom, such as in protected economies, scenario planning has no significant meaning, it is only sales estimates that are required there.

However, in a globalized and fast-changing world, SCENARIO PLANNING gains significance. Emerging short term, medium term and long term trends need to be spotted, and activities to cash on them is required. It is the age of ECLECTIC MARKETING people - those who are alive to the world around them and creatively use the tools and trends!! Marketing belongs to such people now!! Growth is the outcome of good marketing. Positive change in sales cannot come in routine marketing activities. One has to look out and understand possible emerging scenarios, plan for addressing future scenarios and emerge stronger with time. Marketing muscle depends on scenario planning!

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