Future-proofing your business is about big data and advanced analytics, not crystal balls and guesswork, says UCB Chief Marketing Officer, Bharat Tewarie
Earlier this year, Professor Stephen Hawking submitted his final research paper, “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation”, which sought to tackle an issue thrown up by his own 1983 ‘no-boundary’ theory.
This earlier theory predicted that not only did THE universe burst into existence with the big bang, but that an infinite number of universes burst from infinite big bangs.
Only time will tell whether Hawking’s last theory will prove the existence of parallel universes, but one thing is certain – it will stimulate discussion around the nature of the universe in research labs, in classrooms, maybe even in pubs and bars.
In fiction, multiple universes are often conjured to explore a simple question – where does the road-not-travelled lead? What if I had turned left, not right? What if I had chosen to skip work today and taken a bike ride? What if I had become an internationally renowned theoretical physicist and not a pharmaceutical industry editor?
Daydreaming about multiple futures might seem like a nice way to spend a few minutes between meetings, but for some, including Bharat Tewarie, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at UCB, asking future-gazing questions is rapidly becoming an essential part of commercial preparedness.
“Nobody can predict the future but you can prepare for multiple possible futures through the discipline of foresight – in other words, insight into the future,” he says. “Accepting that there are multiple iterations of the future, then envisaging what the business model would need to look like for the long-term success of your patients and your enterprise, enables you to remain agile and to react quickly.”
For UCB, patients are a key element in all possible futures. “What is most important is that we spend as much time as possible in our patients’ shoes – today’s patients, of course, but also the patient of tomorrow.”
The patient of the future
So, what will the future patients be like? “Today, we already see ‘hints’ of the patient of the future –highly connected, well-informed and highly aware patients with strong unmet emotional needs. As a company, we need to understand these changing needs in order to help patients reach their goals.”
Three current trends are emerging, says Tewarie. “The first is that patients want information and services when and where they need them, the concept of instant gratification. Secondly, they expect companies to proactively anticipate their needs and wants – as an enterprise we need to know them before they do. However, the challenge is that what the patient wants and needs is constantly changing.”
The third trend is rising expectations. “Every patient is a consumer, and we will increasingly be held up to the standards of the consumer industry, so we need to truly understand what it’s like to see the world through our patients’ eyes. The winner in this patient experience space will be the enterprise that truly understands who the patient is – who they are as people, what their behaviors are, and how they want information and services delivered to them, on their own terms.”
While patients are central, other trends are incorporated into Tewarie’s future gazing. “There are many factors to track – the shifting needs and expectation of patients is crucial but so too is how the patient interacts with their ecosystem, how that health ecosystem is changing, how healthcare provision is changing, how the doctor-patient relationship is changing. To decide which factors are important, you have to look at your business model and see which trends are likely to have the greatest impact on it.”
Companies have a choice whether to view these trends, or emerging shifts, as s threats or opportunities, says Tewarie. “At UCB, we try to proactively anticipate these trends over the longer term, then we ask ourselves whether we should spend time and effort on it, whether its impact on the company will be great or small.”
Connecting the dots
The task of sifting through the data to find the precious nuggets of insight – by “connecting the dots” – will inevitable fall to virtual hands.
“It’s very important to understand where the value will be created when you start focusing on the patient experience. There is a sea of data that is growing exponentially and many companies have incorporated real-time data into their day-to-day business processes, but the bigger questions are: How do you incorporate that into your decision making? What data do I need to give us an advantage as a company? How do we link different datasets together and mine the data quickly? And of course, ensuring that the collection and use of data is always conducted in an ethical and transparent way,” says Tewarie.
“Through the use of technologies, we can create huge opportunities either by improving business performance, gaining efficiencies, rolling out new business models or improving customer insights. The latter, for example, will help us create solutions and patient experiences that are measurably better than what we had before, although a few things need to be in place.
“You need to be clear about what business value you are trying to create – the value for the patient. Don’t do analytics for the sake of doing analytics. Second, the mindset in the company has to change to become a data-driven mindset – hard data, not guesses, should be used to solve problems. Thirdly, data should be regarded as an asset of the enterprise – you can only be successful when the people who need the data have access to it,” he says.
Bharat Tewarie will be sharing his insights at the eyeforpharma Philadelphia 2018 event taking place between April 10-11.
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