Digital capabilities strategy for leading pharma company

We created a digital capabilities strategy based on customer and internal stakeholder needs and insights.

Sector: Pharmaceuticals and Health Care
Services: StrategyAudience Research

Our team recently completed a project to understand and map the changes required to increase the digital capabilities of the UK teams responsible for digital customer engagement.

We broke the project into two phases, the first of which saw us conduct qualitative research with customers based on initial internal stakeholder workshops. The second phase involved a deep dive into the team's capabilities through several techniques.

The output provided the UK division of a leading global pharmaceutical company with a solid understanding of where they sit with their digital maturity and where they can get to.

When implemented, our recommended actions will rapidly increase maturity and improve customer engagement, satisfaction and retention. All of this will help acheive commercial business goals, including revenue uplift.

Here we show why this work was needed and what we did to provide the client with a clear pathway to improve their digital capabilities, while prioritising efforts based on customer needs.

The challenge

Our client is in an evolving sector landscape, fuelled by health sector changes brought on by the Pandemic and the wider NHS digital transformation plans. Additionally, a recent launch of their global group corporate 2030 strategy included a key digital transformation requirement.

Strong general customer knowledge exists within the organisation, but there was a need to dive deeper into specific digital needs and behaviours. We combined the information with the requirement to better understand their internal capabilities and show where and how their digital maturity needed improvement.

One of our client's team had collaborated with us previously on a project when they were working in a previous role. Their knowledge of us meant they knew we were the right partner for them, based upon our strategic thinking and research skills and our ability to help solve challenges, such as the ones they faced and provide actionable solutions

The overall project aim was to provide recommendations on where to improve and mature (and improve) the digital capabilities of the UK teams, aligned with the company's digital transformation goals and informed by audience needs.

Our solution

Initially, our client requested guidance on improving the in-house team's digital capabilities.
To do this, we recommended conducting a first phase of customer research to provide in-depth insights into their customers' needs, behaviours and attitudes. These insights would allow us to focus digital improvements on the most relevant and impactful areas.

Phase one started with an internal stakeholder workshop to understand the priority audiences, including their typical journeys. Combining this with website analytics to provide any relevant quantitative data and insight to help shape the audience research.

In total, we conducted 18 in-depth online interviews with representatives of the three priority audience groups, which included:

  • Hospital pharmacists
  • Consultants
  • Specialist nurses.

The interview outputs were then analysed, collated and included as part of the phase two recommendations. We shared additional insights from the interviews in a research report with the client team.

Phase two involved a comprehensive review of internal digital capabilities, utilising several different elements:

  • Fact-finding session and situational analysis – provided further essential background information and shaped the final deliverables for the project output
  • Digital capability audits, including:
    • RACI matrix – documenting the typical digital tasks the team are involved in and for each who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.
    • Digital skills assessment - a document that asks people to list their digital skills and what level they rate themselves to be at. Additionally, they can indicate if they have any formal qualifications for any given skill.
    • Digital Marketing Maturity Assessment - provides a marker in the sand for how mature or sophisticated your operations are. The survey focuses the questions around crucial dimensions critical for digital marketing success.
    • Tools and Third-Parties review - a document that lists all third parties employed for digital activity (e.g. external marketing agencies), plus compiling the usage of online tools for digital activities.
  • Stakeholder interviews – we spoke to eight UK team members to understand how they use digital to engage customers and patients within their roles.

The findings from this, coupled with the insights gained from phase one, were then combined into a written report that included:

  • An Executive Summary of their current situation - an overview of the priority areas to focus on improving their digital capabilities moving forwards
  • A Vision statement and Digital Capability' strategy on a page' – these provided an instant summary of where the team are aiming to get to and what they need to do to achieve their ambitions
  • Digital capability audit insights – the summary of learnings from the various audits carried out
  • Stakeholder interview insights – the summary of the key learnings from speaking with the team members
  • Opportunities and recommendations – best practice recommendations and specific prioritised actions, grouped under their relevant digital maturity dimension.

Based upon our business and customer insights from both phases of the project, we could then group these actions into achievable timeframes while labelling them as either 'foundational' or 'optimisation and innovation', depending on the level (and complexity) of maturity required.

Across the project, there were helpful milestone meetings with the client's digital lead, allowing for collaboration and additional context. These meetings helped ensure our final output was relevant regarding the realistic vision and required actions, but importantly, the plan aligned with their own needs and those of their customers.

Headshot of Fresh Egg's Strategy Director, David Somerville

This project has been interesting and enjoyable to work on, especially because of the team's level of interest and commitment to improving.

With our recommendations and the strategy in place, I'm confident that our client will be in a great position to increase their digital maturity and capabilities over the next 12 months and beyond.

David Someville, Strategy Director

The outcome

Our team delivered the consultancy project in May 2023. At the time of publishing, activity planning is currently underway by the client. However, there are some clear valuable outcomes already from what we have done:

  • PRIORISATION: A clear roadmap for digital improvement which improves the business's digital capability and supports its customers' needs.
  • INCREASED CUSTOMER KNOWLEDGE: Customer research provided valuable insights that fed into this strategy and gave deeper customer understanding, feedback, and ideas to which the business can respond.
  • CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Customer research was received positively by the audience. It helped demonstrate the client is interested in their views and willing to invest in this.
  • EFFICIENCIES: Capability audits, such as RACI and Digital Skills assessments, provided the leadership team with documented evidence that will form improved personal development and training.
  • BENCHMARKING: The Digital Marketing Maturity Assessment provided a clear benchmark for the future to track and show the direct impact made against the recommendations.
  • ACTIONABLE: The range of recommended opportunities means there are quicker wins to action, as well as more significant longer-term changes. It will be possible to demonstrate impact quickly.
  • ENGAGEMENT: The UK team members inputted their knowledge and ideas for improvement across the project. The enthusiastic team was already motivated and excited to be able to make a start on implementing recommendations.

We look forward to supporting our client through their digital maturity over the coming months and are excited to see them excel with this.

Headshot of Cath Foster

It has been an exciting and rewarding project to work on due to the complexities of the pharma sector whilst working with such collaborative and engaged stakeholders and their customer base. 

It's fantastic to see a company embedding their customer needs and insights directly into their digital capability roadmap to underpin its digital transformational strategy.

They are already meeting many of their customer needs, and while transformation can seem daunting to some, the UK team can make some impactful change and seem eager to do so!

Cath Foster, User Research Director


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