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Why Collaboration is Digital’s Next Killer App

JERRY

In the movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise’s character has a crisis of conscience. One evening during a league meeting crafts a manifesto of sorts about how sports agents, colleagues, and competitors, could all do a better job serving the best interests of their clients. In the fever pitch of finishing this document, he distributes copies to every single person at the meeting and is greeted with uproarious applauses of approval by his fellow agents.

A week later Jerry had lost all but one of his clients, and his career was in ruins.

Hopefully this won’t be my Jerry Maguire moment, but much like Tom Cruise’s character, the manifesto that follows is probably long overdue because it’s 2014 and pharma still stinks at digital marketing.

Having been in the industry for 18+ years now, I continue to observe the same recurring challenges that plague the business and severely impact the quality of the work. These challenges typically take the following forms.

On the agency side:

  • Work is often done in silos: With little to no collaboration between agency teams the end result is almost always very transactional programs. Media, web, mobile, social, PR, etc., are more often than not being managed by different agencies with little or no incentive to cooperate and collaborate
  • Ideas are transactional: Isolated thinking more often than not translates into an extremely low value ideas with little to no enduring value or utility.
  • Agencies are built to sell: They approach work as a zero sum game. Less for you is more for me. Instead of focusing on brand growth, they are incentivized to try and take revenue from other agency partners.
  • Teams are highly suspicious of one another: Internal or external, the territorial behaviors associated with the previously mentioned challenges kill the scale of a program, as working with another group or agency puts your own revenue at risk.

It’s incredibly easy to focus on the agency side of things, but all is not rosy on the client side of things either. Agencies are, for the most part, a reflection of the clients that manage them, and their behavior is a result of the leaders who manage them.

Some challenges on the client side include:

  • High turnover rates = short term management: Most clients don’t stay in their roles longer than 18-24 months, so programs aren’t designed, built, or managed for mid-long term success.
  • An over-emphasis on innovation: The hunt for ‘the next big thing’ is a constant churn, and comically ineffective. Pharma clients typically define innovation as “new” instead of “better.” Any innovative program by that definition typically can’t build the kind of meaningful scale needed to be effective in the short term, as the audiences and utilization need to be grown. That lack of immediate scale leads to, you guessed it, the eventual hunt for the next ‘next big thing.’
  • Clients are built to buy: Given the relative lack of marketing experience most pharma clients have when they enter their marketing roles, the focus is almost entirely on generating tactics. This leads to an“ I’ll know it when I see it” culture that constantly churns through vendors and pitches with the end result being little to no cohesion in a marketing plan.
  • “Vendor” mindset: The end result of all of this is a disposable attitude towards a client’s agency partners. Any effort to provide strategic council is often rebuffed, and if a client is counseled that an “exciting “ idea may not fit with the overall brand strategy, the consequence for the agency is to be told “if you won’t build this for me, I’ll get someone who will.” Read More…

Initial Impressions of Sphero 2.0: The Best and Worst of the Digital Age

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 10.15.29 AMLast night I picked up a Sphero 2.0 from the Apple Store as I needed to test it out for a client project. After about 5 minutes I remarked to my wife that, “This is exactly what’s good and bad about my job. On the one hand, I get to play with these neat kinds of toys and call it work. On the other hand, it’s a $129 dollar ball.”

Initially, I thought my 8 month old puppy would love it, as it was more interactive then her usual analog tennis ball, but she was terrified by the thing. My 3 girls however, were enamored right away.

I’ve been using it for about 24 hours now and the thing is remarkably fun. It is after all a Bluetooth controlled robotic ball. It has a range of about 50 feet and is surprisingly fast and nimble on the controls. When on, it activates a color changing LED that adds to the overall whimsy of the experience.

Update: I was remarking to a few folks at the office that I was surprised that it didn’t have a camera, as it can be hard to pilot around walls. One of our admins remarked that if it had a camera, people would use it for upskirt pics. Fair point.

Sphero comes with a ton of potential apps, including games that blend digital and real-world environments for seemingly unique gaming experiences, most of which I haven’t tested yet but will do so soon. The hardware and software platform are open source, making it ripe for experimenting with. As such, here are some of the things I’m going to attempt to try with it over the next few weeks. Read More…

What To Watch For In 2013

“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson

2013 is already shaping up to be a groundbreaking year for health technology. In just the past few weeks we’ve seen stunning technology announced, including LCD contact lenses, iPhone enabled EKG monitors, and brain controlled artificial limbs. I’m pretty sure we’re just at the beginning of a tidal wave of advances that push the human experience forward dramatically.

What follows are a few things I think will reshape our expectations and experiences in healthcare, some for better, some for worse.

The Zettabyte

For a sense of scale, the size of the data we’re talking about is as follows:

1,000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte. 1,000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte. 1,000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte. 1,000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte. 1,000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte. By 2015, global IP traffic is expected to pass 1.3 Zettabytes per year, with 39-45% of all that traffic happening wirelessly. 51% of that traffic will be video based, with HD video compromising 79% of that. For all of the talk about big data and how healthcare marketers can use it, the fact remains the industry is woefully under-resourced to create or leverage the kind of sophisticated algorithms needed to analyze and predict trends in order to stay relevant with customers. And, given the scale of the data involved, the problem is only going to get worse. Read More…

Predicting The Future Of Medical Terrorism

WILE E. COYOTE - GENIUSRecently I had the privilege to yet again attend WPP’s technology and innovation conference, STREAM. Held in Marathon, Greece, the setting provides its own magic, but the attendees are an eclectic group that leaves me inspired and always sends me home with all kinds of new ideas. Exactly what you want from a conference such as this.

On the last night there, a bunch of us were fighting it out playing Mindflex, a concentration game where you battle for control of the game piece by wearing a headset that measures your brain activity and concentration. I did not do well. (I blame the cocktails). I was struck about how quickly science fiction level tech is becoming a mainstream reality. We all can probably remember a time when we dreamed up some fascinating gadget or gizmo that was controlled merely by thinking about it, but it always seemed impossible.

Yet here I was, sitting in Greece, trying to focus my way to victory by playing a game with my brain. Welcome to the year 2012. Where mind control devices are now affordable retail hardware.

When I was done with my turn, I left to apply some alcoholic salve to my humiliating loss and struck up a conversation with a few techies that worked at various start-ups. Each was telling a story or two about how they knew someone who tried hacking into this site or that server. Mostly harmless stuff, but it fostered an idea. In the age of seamlessly integrated network technology and data collection software appearing all over the healthcare space, are we asking for trouble? More importantly, could an organization like Al-Qaeda or Anonymous hack into medical technologies and wreak havoc on a large scale?

Read More…