CIO-CMO Gap In Pharma Deters Digital Growth

by CXOtoday News Desk    Mar 27, 2015


While the CMO-CIO gap is a much-debated topic across industries and organizations, reports indicate that the gap is much wider in the pharmaceutical industry than the rest at present. This is according to a survey from Accenture. The research firm believes that these C-level executives in the pharmaceutical industry may be missing the opportunity to optimize the impact of digital technologies due to a lack of alignment on how they should respond. This in turn will impact the bottomline, believe researchers. 

More than nine out of 10 large pharmaceutical company CIOs (91 percent) who participated in the survey of senior marketing and IT executives believe that their companies are in need of greater marketing/IT alignment. By contrast, fewer than two out of three pharmaceutical CMOs (58 percent) agreed with that statement – a discrepancy of 33 percent. This difference in perspective is greater in the pharmaceutical industry than in all other industries surveyed by Accenture at the same time – where the average discrepancy was only 14 percent.

Anne O’Riordan, senior managing director of Accenture’s Life Sciences industry group, said, “The reasons for the difference include traditional structures, cultures and sales representative-led commercial models. The industry faces a period of rapid change marked by digital advances, new expectations from health care professionals and patients, and a dominant outcomes-based reimbursement environment. This requires CMO-CIO collaboration to increase as patients and healthcare providers move more aggressively into the digital world.”

CMOs and CIOs in the pharmaceutical industry have different views of integration and overall investment in the marketing function. According to the report, pharmaceutical CIOs view analytics as the top driver of integration (cited by 52 percent of respondents), but pharmaceutical CMOs rank analytics near the bottom (cited by just 13 percent). Priorities for technology spend were similarly divided:

A majority of pharmaceutical CMOs (54 percent) have spent the most in applying technology on customer experience, while just 14 percent of CIOs cited customer experience as a priority to further market impact and outcomes. Only 17 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs have spent funds to equip a mobile-enabled sales force, compared to 43 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs. Just 13 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs said they have spent the most to invest in multichannel analytics, compared to 43 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs.

The survey also pointed to a lack of a common vision for technology and understanding between CIOs and CMOs in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, two-thirds (67 percent) of the CMO respondents do not view IT as a strategic partner, compared to 50 percent of CMOs surveyed in all industries. Additionally, while nearly 80 percent (77 percent) of pharmaceutical CIOs see the need for greater alignment with CMOs, just 44 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs feel that way.

CIOs and CMOs in the pharmaceutical industry also have differing attitudes on how to make alignment work between the two functions: Nearly four out of 10 pharmaceutical CIOs (38 percent) would favor co-locating IT and marketing staff, an option favored by only 13 percent of pharmaceutical CMOs. At the same time, nearly four out of 10 pharmaceutical CMOs (38 percent) said they would support creating an IT lead within the marketing function, and a marketing lead within IT, a solution that only 19 percent of pharmaceutical CIOs favored.

“We suggest key steps to closing the gap between pharmaceutical CIOs and CMOs, including establishing a vision and set of common objectives for marketing IT that leverage the power of digital and unifying around the customer and patient experience,” added O’Riordan. “They should also integrate customer/patient-focused skills throughout the company, and focus the IT agenda to empower marketing to exploit digital technologies.”