Q&A with Alida Rossi, AbbVie

We were delighted to have spoken with Alida Rossi on a recent webinar, to understand how AbbVie have aligned Global and Local priorities, to deliver on their omni-channel aspirations. Here’s what she had to say:
 

Hi Alida, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where AbbVie is at on their omni-channel journey?

I’ve been the Customer Excellence Director at AbbVie for eight years now and have worked in the Health Science industry for 30 years. ‘Customer Excellence’ at AbbVie serves as a support function, whereby we build capabilities for the here and now, with an eye to the future. Over the past few years, we have made big leaps and strides towards omni-channel, there have been mistakes along the way, but these are inevitable. What I’ve learned is that capabilities take time to build – but having that underlying curiosity or a team with an innovative spirit really helps.

“What I’ve learned is that capabilities take time to build – but having that underlying curiosity or a team with an innovative spirit really helps.”

What have been some challenges when it comes to aligning Global and Local priorities?

There’s this thinking that Global will develop all the capability and systems and hand it over to you as a gift, but this does not exist! As an Affiliate, you have to be thinking about the platforms, processes, skills and mindsets required to deliver on these Global capabilities – whilst being realistic with what you’re able to achieve in the time you’ve allocated. You will also need to influence or guide Global if they are not moving at the pace required, because that will determine how quickly you’re able to accelerate.

Whilst COVID-19 has been helpful in fast-tracking this mindset, it’s also made people panic and rush into things without looking at the change holistically. Being driven by the systems is a mistake we’ve made; if you’re not thinking about execution, insights, or how to maximize value – you will end up unpicking a lot of the mess along the way.

"As an Affiliate, you have to be thinking about the platforms, processes, skills and mindsets required to deliver on these Global capabilities – whilst being realistic with what you’re able to achieve in the time you’ve allocated."

How did you prepare for omni-channel transformation at a Local level?

Our Affiliate was actually ready to run before Global were, however, despite significant Local progress made on processes, tech enablement, data capabilities and organizational design – the big acceleration didn’t happen until Global got behind us with a common ambition. Given the execution of this requires internal transformation – it’s important to get the infrastructure, and mindsets in place before articulating what this means for our HCPs. What we found resonated really well was to show real-world examples of what omni-channel looked like in the Pharma industry, and what this could mean for our business.

What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen at AbbVie when making the move towards omni-channel?

We’ve moved away from theoretically knowing about our segmentation, patient journey and channel preferences. Previously, we didn’t have the data points internally to validate what was happening because we were using lag indicators. Now, we’re deploying more digital channels than ever before, and are collecting accurate data, meaning we have access to real behavioral insights. As a result, we have a tighter understanding of behavioral segmentation, and can optimize how patients and HCPs progress through their journey, including where we can improve at their ‘Moments that Matter’. This has really helped us address any issues regarding our content and channel strategy.

Aligning your Affiliates around your Local customer and growth strategies is an interplay between Global enabling the systems and data to drive instant insights into brand teams. Brands have had to fast-track their planning cycle around this real-time data. There will be moments throughout this journey where you will make mistakes and have ‘regret spend’ in either people or content. I urge leaders not to worry about getting it perfect the first time; it will be messy, but ensuring seamless communications between Global, Affiliates and Therapeutic Areas is key to seeing success.

"I urge leaders not to worry about getting it perfect the first time; it will be messy, but ensuring seamless communications between Global, Affiliates and Therapeutic Areas is key to seeing success."

What role has technology and data played in executing on your omni-channel aspirations? 
We’ve seen a real change in how insights are gathered from the Affiliates, all the way up to Global. The design, process, tech enablement and capabilities now are centred around the end-customer. Any new processes or technology is always deployed in a ‘pilot’ country before we roll it out to the rest of the organization. This allows us to think about how we can leverage omni-channel to suit a large company like Germany, and then scale this down for a smaller country like Thailand.

From an execution perspective, agility in planning is critical. Traditionally in Pharma, you have a three-year plan and a one-year plan, and you tick as you go. That’s simply not going to work anymore. Planning cycles must become faster, data-driven and agile in nature. The more you do this, the better you become at shortening these cycles and pre-empting some of the pivots that may arise.

How can you ensure your Affiliate is set up for success throughout the journey?

It’s critical for Global to provide a roadmap that is optimized based on maturity levels for each market – enabling the Affiliates with the tools and resources needed to deliver on it. The key is to trust global and regional decisions because they have the Affiliate input – it’s better to receive something that’s going to have power across everything you need to do.

Needing to continue explaining the ‘why’, or the purpose of the transformation when you’re actually implementing the change at a Local level is also important. Content and confidence are key to driving engagement – how confident you can make your Local brand teams in enabling new capabilities is where you start to see results.

"The key is to trust global and regional decisions because they have the Affiliate input – it’s better to receive something that’s going to have power across everything you need to do."

What are your key tips for leaders embarking on a similar initiative?

1. Know who the end user is.

Global should be viewing the Affiliate as their end user, so they can build out the specific capabilities needed to accelerate digital maturity. Whereas the end user for Affiliates are the HCPs – so it’s important to make sure you’re getting insights from these groups to drive your omni-channel strategy.

2. Clarify Global, Affiliate and Therapeutic Area accountabilities.

At a Local level, you must invest in new capabilities to support the omni-channel vision. However, there will also be brand new roles that are needed to bring the whole journey to life – so, preparing to bring in people and shape their skills to have a strong go-to-market model is critical.

3. Gain competitive advantage through scale and speed.

How quickly you can change, and how agile you are – whilst still meeting your end user’s needs and leveraging the right resources in a sustainable way – will be critical to seeing success.

Watch the full webinar recording for deeper insights on how to bridge the Global and Local Affiliate divide.