- Global Pharma News & Resources

Why Pharma CIOs and CMOs need to get along

Why Pharma CIOs and CMOs need to get along


Why Pharma CIOs and CMOs need to get along
Last Updated: 11-May-2015

The pharmaceutical industry is currently going through a period of considerable upheaval. Indeed, as we’ve written recently, it could be suggested that the entire sector is in crisis and in need of fresh ideas. These challenges include the ever-nearing patent cliff and an overall lack of rendering many organisations unable to meet the demands of modern, global markets. One additional issue that hasn’t always initially sprung to mind is the lack of collaboration between Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs); however a recent Accenture study found that solving this particular issue could directly benefit businesses in a number of ways. So with this in mind, what did the survey reveal and how can these two roles work together more effectively?

The report showed that, while many CIOs are apparently looking to collaborate with the marketing department, pharma CMOs had one of the lowest levels of reciprocal interest of any industry. In fact, there was a 33% difference in opinion between the two groups, compared to a cross industry average of 14%. Another key area where marketers and IT heads disagree is over the very motive for their potential interaction. Chief Information Officers ranked analytics as their top reason for the two fields to be aligned; citing that relevancy in marketing is now driven by data. However CMOs reported this as their least important factor, highlighting the difference in opinion. The debate over the importance of managing big data also reaped similar results. Almost half (42%) of CMOs felt this should be the top priority for CIOs when it comes to improving marketing effectiveness compared to 62% of professionals already operating in these roles.

Aside from providing an impressive amount of information on why CMOs and CIOs haven’t collaborated as effectively as they should so far, the study also suggested a number of methods for how they could potentially unify in the future. However, even these weren’t agreed on. Half of the surveyed CMOs said they’d like to see marketing and IT trained together in emerging market technologies and platforms, which could potentially help to close the gap, but just 14% of CIOs agreed that this would be an effective approach.  An even more significant statistic was also reported. Just a third of Chief Marketing Officers reported that they see IT as a strategic partner and this is made even more damning when we consider that 71% of these professionals say their CEO actively encourages collaboration between the two departments. 

As you may have realised, the crux of the issue is that the two departments often aren’t, and don’t want to be, aligned. While CIOs tend to recognise the importance of working together – 77% reported that more collaboration is needed – just a quarter of CMOs agreed. And as long as this continues, it’s likely that the two fields won’t be able to effectively work together in order to meet the demands of the modern markets.  For example, while less than a third of CMOs feel very well prepared to exploit opportunities in digital marketing channels, over half of CIOs do – indicating that there’s obviously a disconnect between the two departments which is affecting their ability to do their jobs effectively.

From analysing the report, it’s clear that something significant needs to be done as not even direct instruction from the top level of a business seems to be able to convince the two functions to work together. However, with the industry in a state of flux and seeking new ways of operating effectively in order to drive growth and innovation, something needs to change. From our perspective as recruiters within the pharmaceutical arena, two things need to happen. Firstly, organisations need to be convinced how important it is to not only seek technical competencies in senior professionals in these roles, but also softer skills that can allow them to work across the siloes that have been developed. And secondly, they need to find these people, which isn’t necessarily an easy task. Faced with a relatively limited pool of talent, firms may need to look literally into other similar complex and highly regulated fields.

Obviously there are other changes that also need to take place; CMOs and CIOs must establish commons goals and objectives for both their departments, for example. They also need to collaborate much more in order to improve the patient experience and integrate customer focused skills throughout the company, rather than just at the front line. If they fail to do so and don’t look to source professionals with a balance of technical and soft skills, it’s likely that everything will stay the same, and while firms will continue to secure profits, they’re fast running out of time to make the revolutionary changes that the industry so badly needs. While collaboration between CMOs and CIOs won’t solve everything, it’s a step forward in reinvigorating the sector.

Abid Kanji is Associate Director at NonStop Recruitment