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The Rise of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) as Foundations for Commercial Operations

Antiquated and separated data platforms make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to create useful customer segments based on behavioral, demographic, or transactional engagement data. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) can provide a valuable and long-lasting solution to these challenges. 

The Current State of Data Wealth and Debt 

Healthcare providers (HCPs) and the pharmaceutical organizations that serve them faced a rapid digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of this radical online shift, many pharmaceutical organizations are still struggling to bring their data management platforms up to speed. Customer data is frequently siloed across different teams and departments across the commercial, medical, and marketing operations, threatening conflicting and even inaccurate information between them. In this piece, our life sciences experts dive into customer data platforms and the impact they can bring to healthcare providers and pharmaceutical organizations.

CDPs and the Full Customer View 

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is software designed to unify first-party demographic, behavioral, and transactional customer data from multiple resources to create an easy-to-understand customer profile. Once created, marketers can use these comprehensive customer profiles to tailor disease awareness and branded communications and campaigns to specific customer needs and behaviors. The unification of all first-party data allows companies to improve both their customer data, segmentation, and activation, setting them up especially well for Next-Best Action (NBA) algorithm development to satisfy the needs and exceed the expectations of the HCPs they are engaging with.  

CDP vs. Data Lakes 

CDPs and data lakes both serve as valuable data management tools, but there are a few important differences worth noting. One key difference lies in the composition and organization of the data housed within each tool. Although a data lake may house all customer data (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured), this data isn’t organized in such a way that allows users to identify a single customer segment across different channels. As a result, although it’s a centralized data repository, it cannot build a comprehensive customer view or a 360-degree view of the physician.  

A CDP can also be viewed as a centralized data repository; however, this repository comprises select customer data pulled together into a single source and format. Additionally, data in a data lake may not have standardized refresh requirements, while CDP data is updated in real time. This data composition requires less time to clean, organize, and maintain than that of a data lake, making CDPs easier for users without a data engineering background to use.  

CDP vs. CRM 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology allows users to track and improve physician interactions. CDPs and CRMs share a lot of overlap and similarities, and the differences between the two are subtler and less intuitive than those between a CDP and data lake.  

CDPs and CRM both act as centralized sources of customer data. The key difference between the two lies in the focus around relationships with the customer. CRM focuses entirely on the direct, one-on-one interactions between the customer and business, with the primary goal of supporting field force engagement with the physician. Here, the data largely comprises customer contact information and interactions with an HCP or HCO account. CDP customer views are much more comprehensive, stretching beyond direct support of the sales cycle.  A CDP not only captures the direct interactions between the field team and customer – it also maps the overall customer behavior among different audience segments across the entire customer journey.  

A CDP can hold great value for companies with well-developed CRM. Once a CDP collects and organizes customer behavioral data, a CRM (or marketers) can then use the profiles crafted from this data to manage direct, customer-facing interactions. It can ensure data mastering and deduplication mechanisms are in place across digital platforms. Then, organizations can see and engage with physicians as one individual across the digital ecosystem (e.g., branded site, disease awareness site, corporate site). A CDP layers sophistication to the CRM in segmentation capabilities, content tailoring, and other journey-specific customization, an asset to any marketing team. 

Benefits of CDPs in Life Sciences 

The segmentation that CDPs allow is especially useful in the life sciences industry, where different physician segments have vastly different needs and behaviors. Let’s say a pharma company is looking to lift HCP conversions and revenue. All their targeted HCPs share one common goal: finding the best medications for their patients. However, the needs for reaching this goal can vary dramatically among different HCPs. The daily routine, communication preferences, and patient demographics of a radiation oncologist will be drastically different from those of a pediatric oncologist that frequently works night shifts. The types of engagement will look very different with a physician involved in the initial diagnosis of a patient vs. those the patient is referred to for ongoing treatment, disease management, etc. One will benefit from red flags symptoms while the other for watch outs around discontinuation – one size does not fit all! In these very real situations, the pharmaceutical organization benefits from comprehensive customer segmentation that helps tailor marketing to these different doctors.  

Foundations for the Future 

Enabling a Customer Data Platform can have significant benefits on the effectiveness of customer engagement for a pharmaceutical organization.  A well-structured CDP aids personalization across channels, improving effectiveness and satisfaction of the healthcare provider. In fact, a Treasure Data study reported that 70% of HCPs do not feel that pharma marketing is tailored to them, with 41% saying that a more tailored marketing approach would improve interactions with salespeople. 

Setting the CDP foundation will set an organization up for success as they move down the path of modular content, where a more tailored and segmented approach to content development can be executed much more seamlessly. All aspirations for advanced analytics on commercial teams depend on proper data foundations. Next Best Action, ML-based segmentation, and predictive analytics will all yield disappointing results without it. A CDP implemented and designed right can be the bedrock for a wealth of insights to create long-term, effective, and targeted engagement. 

To chat more about the value that a CDP can bring to your organization, connect with one of our life sciences sales and marketing experts today. 

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Contributions from Cecilia Williams

Tags: Life Sciences Trends, Sales and Marketing Technology