The #PreCommerce Summit welcomed Dina Rey, Head of Digital at Roche, to the stage as the first speaker…highlighting the duality of digital in dynamic world.

Digital is a representation of an ideology. intra

It is a belief that capitalism is no longer a monologue. 

That customers are entitled to have a dialogue with the producers, distributors, and sellers of products and services.

How do you bring this ideology to a highly-regulated environment like Pharma? 

How do you “hack” an organization to help them not only embrace the tools of digital, but also the ideology it represents? 

How do you make digital meaningful to them without sacrificing the meaning of digital? 

Dina started her career in the consumer goods industry as a sales rep, but was quickly recruited to Citibank to help integrate technology with consumer offerings. After successfully helping to propel consumer banking into the digital world, Dina was recruited into Pharma. Pharma believes they are a unique industry based on the regulations to which they must adhere, but Pharma uses this as an excuse to distance themselves from their customers. Banking also has regulations, but this isn’t a barrier to a relationship to the customer and be truly customer first.

In order to transform an organization to a digital mindset from the inside out, the key is to be a chameleon. You have to understand the type of organization you are trying to transform. Are they barren of any digital experience?  This would likely be viewed as the most difficult environment because you need to create infrastructure…but even more difficult is groups that have tried initiatives, but haven’t fully engaged and go cold with the concept because they don’t see immediate results.  Digital is about relationships, so instant gratification isn’t part of the exchange.  Others are overgrown with digital assets and projects which don’t readily add value to the business.  In this environment, you have to navigate teams who have embraced digital in their own way and gently cull the failures from the successes.  Finally, and most importantly, you need to asses if the organization has embraced digital change from the top down based on the organizations code.  Do they have the digital gene?   

Dina highlighted three key insights from her career as a digital agent of change :

  1. Pharmasaurus: regulated rigid industry and the days of this model are numbered.  Google has been around since 1999, Roche for over 100 years and yet the market capitalization of Google has surpassed that of Roche.  You need to enter this territory carefully.  The Pharmasaurus is friends with the sales reps so you need to work with the product team and the sales reps to help tame the Pharmasaurus.
  2. Venture Capatalists: your senior management are funding your digital impact both from a financial standpoint and a reputation standpoint.  You need to speak to them in a way that they understand.  What is the business case?  How will this improve ROI?  Co-creation with this group is a critical success factor.  Over time, this group with evangelize your language and that is transformation in and of itself.
  3. Attitude: hire for ideology not just skills.  Your team need to be passionate, rebels who are not afraid to disrupt.  You need to rally your team around a mission of “intrapreneurship”.

In the end, the truth of digital is about customer responsiveness, sometimes before a customer has even realized the need.  There is a lot of discussion around the military acronym: VUCA.  This stands for:

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity

This is a valuable construct for thinking about the future of digital. 

There is a great deal of volatility as change is happening fast with a multitude of new platforms launched yearly.

There is increasing uncertainty as we cannot definitively say who the key players are now let alone in the future.

There is mounting complexity as the ecosystem is interwoven and required integration of channels.

There will always be ambiguity as there will not be a static answer to any of these issues.

A digital agent of change must take on a mission understanding all of this, and still inspired to initiate transformation.