It’s easy to see the impact of digital technologies on industries like travel, retail and banking. Less visible has been the impact on life sciences. Yet, as Gartner’s Stephen Davies notes, “Over the past several years the theme of digital business generated many inquiries with our life science clients.” As more life sciences companies choose to digitally transform their organizations, what exactly will the CIO’s role be in that process and what can they do to excel?

A new mandate for the CIOs. . . and say hello to the CMO

According to our recent study, 84% of CIOs in the life sciences industry see their role as essential to enabling digital transformation in their organizations. They see their main functions as: digital strategist, transformational leader, functional leader, manager of process change, and also to evaluate and oversee the deployment of new digital technologies as well as ensure effective implementation.

Interestingly, we found that despite digital technologies offering an abundance of opportunity in many functional areas, the digital adoption rate in life sciences is highest on the marketing side of the business. Perhaps it makes sense for CIOs to connect with their CMOs to jointly lead digital initiatives across their organization.

Key skills for the successful Digital CIO in life sciences

Joining forces with the CMO also gives CIO exposure to the work styles and skill sets that improve outcomes, based on our research.

1. Focus on the customer experience

As CIOs and marketing executives look for common ground and alignment on strategic direction, customer experience proves to be a powerful unifying goal that can drive transformational initiatives throughout your organization.

How can you improve your customers’ experience? Begin by asking broader questions, such as: how digital can help 100% of patients obtain coverage? How can digital improve care? How can digital extend the reach of rural doctors? Based on your vision for the future, a journey map can be developed to depict a unified view of your customer experience, with the CIO focusing on the tech layer and the CMO focusing on building the service map.

We recommend a shared focus for delivering an extraordinary customer experience to keep attention focused on the entire digital ecosystem, rather than obsessing over particular channels and tactics.

2. Identify customer-centered KPIs

Building on that shared commitment to enhanced customer experience, you can now create a common set of customer-centered key performance indicators (KPI). Once again, these will be shared between CIOs and CMOs, with each respective stakeholder being held responsible for specific goals and outcomes. We encourage your leaders to focus on a new mutual set of experienced-based metrics that emphasize service, satisfaction and outcomes rather than internal efficiency and the typical technology and marketing metrics of the past.

3. Harness collaborative innovation

innovation workshopsShared innovation workshops can be another powerful bridge between CIOs and CMOs as they spend time shaping a shared roadmap for overall corporate success — while respecting the dual mandate for organizational efficiency and customer-led innovation. Properly framed, and backed with high-level sponsorship and follow-through, these working sessions will lay the foundation for your team’s digital transformation throughout their enterprise and raise the bar for all customer touch points.

4. Walk the talk

It’s often said that “brand inside drives brand outside.” If we can align our internal employee experience and performance with our customer-facing experience, then we are walking the talk. Mobilizing and building internal digital skill-sets will help internal groups collaborate in new and powerful ways and allow them to more skillfully approach, evaluate and meet the needs of external customers.

5. Transform the commercial model

When CIOs and CMOs align their core operating strengths, they lay the groundwork for companies to truly operate differently. As the collaborative economy1 continues to evolve, this CIO-CMO partnership will help your company incubate, hatch and implement new economic models to deliver the highest value to your customers. The highest level of success is achieved when the transformation is focused on meaningful customer experiences.

CIO’s spend their careers evaluating opportunities, overseeing transformations, and overcoming challenges during those processes. Much can be gained when CIOs and CMOs join forces. If your CMO can shed light and lend guidance to help ensure the success of your initiative, we say, seize the opportunity!

Let me know which recommendation makes sense to you and check out our latest research study:  A New Mandate in Life Sciences.

Bhaskar Sambasivan

Bhaskar Sambasivan

Bhaskar is a Senior Vice-President and Global Markets Leader of Cognizant's Life Sciences Business unit. He and his team focus on delivering... Read more

  • Hari Tammana

    Interesting… Do you have any insights into why digital adoption rate is high in Life Sciences companies?