From b2b to a2a

From b2b to a2a

It is Friday.

Like all Fridays, it is a moment in the week quite good to reflect back on some learnings, experiences and discussions.

At the latest eyeforpharma conference in Barcelona, I had interesting exchanges concerning the evolution of our customer experiences and interactions, and especially the role of digital technologies that is changing those.

b2b > business to business

In the pharmaceutical industry, most probably you’ll think first about the rep or a KAM (key account manager). We do have a lot to prepare for helping our reps to spouse the new expectations of our HCPs, finding new ways to provide values. This led our industry to shift mainly to customer centricity, changing our messages from products facts and sheets and identify our “why”.

b2b4c > business to business for consumers

Naturally the patient pops up fast in these discussions and we bring him in the center which is a good thing. We talk more about prevention, our role in adherence and even our role in lifestyle and environmental issues that could induce the conditions we are trying to treat.

This is also the root cause of why we want (try) to shift to a service model as an industry. Some create the capability in-house but most of house partners. We have seen the rise of a lot of players, association and groups “representing” the patient needs, the patient voice and sell us a b2b2c model: in other words pay me and will take care of the burden of talking to consumers for you.

p2p > platform(s) to platform(s)

This is the last decade bringing us API and open data model where the company X sells a seat for you to publish your content or services and the company Y sells a seat to a doctor or a patient for a perceived value.

This model is a natural evolution from partnerships to an automated way to do business now that anyone has a connection and a phone. Is it bad? Not really but it is worth mentioning that it is not working every time and everywhere.

We usually underestimate the amount of time required to make the most out of an automated eco-system especially when you speak about patient support platforms or simply websites that are driving content and curating data for HCPs.

a2a > applications to application / artificial intelligence to artificial intelligence

While this remains mainly technical, the rise of bots powered by machine learning or home/pro assistants getting smarter is creating new opportunities and questions. What if tomorrow the behaviour of our patients will be triggered by assistants who themselves needs to be convinced by the AI of a doctor that is itself exchanging with the AI of the industry. Sounds far from where we are but if you push that not for our generation but the one coming, I could easily see it soon.

Then it means that not only our value will be transformed to a transaction but this last one is backup by measurable proof. New game in perspective.

What to do from here?

Well you might ask yourself what all of this is about and why I am interested in this. I see more and more platforms and partners selling part or a whole ecosystem to our industry. While it is great, because you can’t be a data or tech expert in weeks organically, you could leapfrog through a solid partnership and provide a new set of value to your customers and patients.

That said, what would be the end of the funnel? If this is an a2a model, then loosing the customer interface and looking at data lake is definitely not our forte but the one of data centric company that would do that better than us. Worse, we will depend on someone else to understand our market dynamics and audiences (I’ll say we are already in that with online ads platforms).

This is also provoking new definitions: what does it mean to disrupt healthcare? Are we talking about simply shaping new habits and healthcare will be much broader than what we have now? Will we see the emergence of new players owning new kind of relationships that these new business models create?

Would love to hear your views on the comments below.

Have a nice week-end folks.


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