W2OSXSW Recap: PreCommerce Summit (PT. 1)

W2O hosted the eighth annual edition of the PreCommerce Summit from our office in Austin, Texas. We always pack lots of great speakers into one event and this year was no exception. Like Aaron mentioned in his #W2OSXSW preview post, many of this year’s sessions focused on healthcare, featuring speakers from some of the world’s most innovative companies.

I’ll be doing a series of recaps from the summit, check out part 1 of my recap below.

Built to Suck

The ever-proactive Joseph Jaffe (Co-Founder, HMS Beagle) kicked things off by talking about the inspiration for his brand new book called Built to Suck: a chart in his daughter’s classroom that showed the rise and fall of global civilizations over 5,000 years. It made him wonder what happens if we look at corporations the same way as civilizations over time?

After studying several large companies, it became clear to Joseph that the very things that made corporations successful—size, economies of scale, efficiencies, cost-cutting, etc. eventually start working against it to impede growth. That’s why in his view that corporations are built to suck. Organic, customer-driven growth is key. If a company isn’t growing, it’s dying. As examples, he cited that 50% of Fortune 500 companies from 2000 no longer make the list; Also, 51% of the Fortune 500 companies have had declining revenues, on average over the last three years.

According to Joseph, here’s the 4 horsemen of the coming corpocalypse:

  1. Size – For all big corporations, budget cuts, restructures or reorgs are inherently part of the corporate cycle. He refers to this as death by 1,000 budget cuts.
  2. Age – After a certain point, age works against corporations. Current younger companies like Google or Amazon don’t suck, but some day they will.
  3. Being a public company – He calls this the kiss of death because of the focus it places on short-term financial performance.
  4. Culture – Marketers’ obsession with customer acquisition has made us focus on courting strangers rather than our fans, advocates and zealots.

He then gave us a preview of what corporations could do to avoid the inevitable fall. If you’re interested in learning more, then Built to Suck is for you.

Joseph’s one of my friends from the early days of corporate social media who I have a ton of respect for. When he says Built to Suck is the best he’s written, it’s well worth investing the time to read it.

Real Talk, Real Life and How the Federal Government Is Applying Data to Solve Real World Problems 

Our own Jennifer Gottlieb sat down with Dr. Mona Siddiqui, the Chief Data Officer for Health and Human Services for a fireside chat. Dr. Siddiqui is an internist, data scientist and self-proclaimed “recovering academic.”

How did she end up working for the federal government? Dr. Siddiqui knew she wanted to work in a place that was mission-driven, where she could have the biggest impact. She’s been able to build teams almost like a startup leading the White House Social and Behavioral Science Team and working with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

As chief data officer, she focuses on how data will be used to drive evidence-based policy. This work requires lots of collaboration and prioritization—Dr. Siddiqui mad the point that HHS itself is a collection of 29 different agencies, including FDA, CDC, NIH and others. Those agencies collect health data independently, which results in siloed data. Fixing that is a long-term process. She’s setting the vision for how data is used across HHS, demonstrating incremental value to help sustain continued momentum.

When she first started as the chief data officer, one of her challenges was to explain the value of data to agency leaders not trained in data science. That’s where her team partnered with data scientists from Google to attack the opioid crisis to create an HHS hackathon that brought together 250 coders using 70 unique data sets. It resulted in solutions that helped drive prevention, treatment and understanding usage. One example: plotting take-back programs to make it easier for patients to return unused pills. HHS and Google them worked with CVS, Walgreen’s and 7 states in to plot the take-back programs nationally on Google Maps.

Areas she expects the most innovation in health care over the next 10 years—home and community-based services. In her view, making progress will mean big step toward the goal of a patient-centric model. But it will require a massive re-architecting of health care delivery.

Being Patient-Focused in a Value-Driven World – Do We Understand Their Voice and Values?

W2O’s Chuck Hemann set the stage for the panel discussion by saying most companies across industries focus on producing value to their customers. In health care, though, it’s more complex: Patients tend to have a narrow definition of value. But there’s many other stakeholders in the mix. He kicked off the panel discussion asking how each define value.

Mary Michael, VP of Patient Advocacy at Stakeholder Management for Otsuka, responded by saying she doesn’t know what value is until I find out what the stakeholders want.  Mary’s approach: look at all as individuals first, making the point that we’re only patients when we’re visiting a doctor. Beyond the individual is stakeholders—maybe a son, a mother or father, friends who care about us, etc. That’s the ecosystem she and Otsuka are reaching out to when defining what value means. One of Mary’s key roles is to bring the ecosystem and community voices inside Otsuka. That allows her to educate the organizations and teams inside the company who building the initiatives and programs.

Rita Glaze W2O Group’s Practice Lead, U.S Market Access also agreed that listening to those audiences with intent a critical component. She attributes some of the friction to the disconnect between the health care industry and individuals: the industry tends to value as an equation: access + affordability, whereas for individuals and other stakeholders, that definition is very personal. The good news: many more on the industry side are focused on viewing from the lens of the individual.

For Mary and Otsuka, the key to putting the individual (patient in the center) starts with social listening. They spend a lot of time and effort understanding all the stakeholders in a patient advocacy organizations or external groups. In pediatrics, it’s simple: mom and dad are the key stakeholders. In other areas, like the mental health space, it’s not so simple: stakeholders may be a parent, a son or daughter, another loved one, family friends or even an employer. To Mary, the true value of social listening is the naturalistic element: it provides visibility into the lexicon, the attitude, the sentiment—all aspects you don’t get from the clinical side. Doing social listening well is key to understanding stakeholder needs. In many cases, effective social listening will surface new stakeholders that companies weren’t aware of.  An example: the banking industry is tied to Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. Why? Because when a person gets diagnosed with dementia, their personal wealth declines. That’s why banking institutions are hiring geriatricians.

Both Mary and Rita agreed that having celebrities speak up about health issues is a positive trend: Justin Bieber on struggles with depression and Selma Blair’s amazing efforts to shine a light on multiple sclerosis are two recent examples. Their speaking out raises awareness, and more importantly humanizes and removes the stigma connected to these conditions.

Gender Parity as an Indicator of Relevance

W2O Group’s Angelia Gillespie kicked off the next session with some positive recent trends that point to progress for gender parity: there’s a record number of women in Congress, General  Motors’ senior executive team now features a female CEO and CFO and female-focused  companies like Revlon recently appointed its first woman CEO in its nearly 100-year existence. But how is the health care industry doing when it comes to gender parity? That’s the question Angela and Meredith Owen set out to answer when they added gender parity and diversity to our W2O’s Corporate Relevance Index beginning last year. This research culminated in a whitepaper from W2O Analytics: The Role of Gender Disparity in Corporate Relevance.

Angela cited two STAT news stories to illustrate the gap. On the eve of JPM 2018, STAT published an article Men named Michael outnumber female CEOs presenting at #JPM18. In advance of #JPM2019, STAT published a follow-on story. This year, female CEOs presenting at the conference (33) outnumbered speakers named Michael (19). Still, 90 percent of the presenters were male.

So, why is this important? Angela pointed out that data shows that companies that invest in both gender parity and diversity benefit from increased revenue, decreased costs, maximized profits, improved retention and enhanced corporate image.

Before diving into the findings of the gender disparity whitepaper, Meredith Owen started out defining relevance. To W2O, relevance is the intersection between what companies need to say, want to say, are saying online and what stakeholders want and are saying about the company online.

When these two things align, powerful things happen. Meredith cited Sanofi’s reply to Rosanne Barr’s tweet as an example. Sanofi’s response received over 250K engagements from people, the large majority of which were hugely supportive of the company’s reaction. And that’s before you even consider the huge amount of earned media attention it gained.

Our research shows that health care companies have much progress to make as it relates to gender diversity. W2O looked at the 62 health care companies that make up the Fortune 500. Meredith and team started with Relevance Index benchmarks, factoring in the relative size of the conversation around health care diversity to score them. Unfortunately, only one health care company received an “On the Fence” ranking. All other 61 companies ranked either as “Weak” or “Susceptible.” This means health care ranks near the bottom compared to other industries in terms of diversity and gender parity.

That said, there are signs of progress. Compared to last year, gender and diversity scores for health care companies increased an average of almost nine percent year over year. According to Meredith, health care brands that deal directly with consumers tended to have higher gender diversity scores. Also, the overall conversation around diversity is increasing, up 126% in terms of total conversation from 2017 – 2018. It’s even more pronounced among physicians, growing 256% year over year.

More reason for optimism: there’s clear evidence that health care companies are paying attention to diversity and gender parity. 2017 – 2018 marks a 62% increase year over year in the number of posts related to diversity. Even better, there a 109% increase in terms of engagement with diversity-related content. It’s also worth noting that 100% of the health care companies that ranked in the Top 15 of our Relevance Index have Chief Diversity Officers on staff, and more companies are looking to hire for the role in the future.

For more insights, check out The Role of Gender Disparity in Corporate Relevance whitepaper.

There was so much goodness coming from our PreCommerce Summit that it couldn’t be contained in one post, so that’s all for now. Stay tuned for parts #2 and #3!

Lionel Menchaca
Lionel Menchaca

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