The State of Leading CRM Vendors in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Vyom Bhuta

Several technology shifts in the pharmaceutical market have put pressure on CRM software vendors for the healthcare industry. The leading players are Siebel, Dendrite, IMS Health, Synavant and Oracle. The key to true CRM success in the pharmaceutical industry is greater process and technology integration among disparate groups within an enterprise, such as customer care, marketing and sales. Companies are also demanding integration of multiple touchpoints to interact and communicate with buyer/prescription writers (i.e., Web self-service), in addition to the standard field sales rep/marketer. In response to these trends, technology is shifting toward an integrated solution, which offers sales force automation and mobility; marketing and data analysis; and call center management. The attraction is to reduce the number of core systems and applications in an organization's portfolio and, as a result, lower total cost of ownership (TCO).


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In response, CRM software vendors have increased their focus on the pharmaceutical industry and have made strategic alliances.


Synavant, with increased competitive pressure from Siebel and Dendrite, decided to stop further investments in product development and would only support their install base for a limited time. This is another reason many pharmaceutical companies are looking at alternate CRM solutions.


Back in July 2000, Siebel Systems and IMS Health Strategic Technologies (ST) announced a strategic alliance in which Siebel delivered CRM software to the pharmaceutical industry. As a result many users of ST applications were given a migration path to implement Siebel ePharma as a replacement. IMS Health focused on implementation and support of Siebel ePharma. Siebel ePharma is part of Siebel Life Sciences and includes end-to-end marketing automation, sample budget and control, sample order management, field rep qualitative note capture and centralized analysis, along with call center integration. As a result Siebel gained significant market share with its vertical integrated product and the new partnership with IMS Health. Siebel has an impressive list of clients that includes Johnson & Johnson Managed Care, Dura Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme Surgical Products, Amgen, Aventis (Japan), Roche (France) and SmithKline Beecham (Canada).


Dendrite has been one of the leaders in the sales automation space for the pharmaceutical industry, with a 30 percent market share. However, its offering has lacked other key CRM components, such as incentive compensation, contact center configuration and marketing campaign management. Oracle was struggling with integrating its E-Business Suite with the specialized vertical processes of pharmaceuticals.


In June 2000, Oracle and Dendrite International announced a partnership to bring CRM applications to market for the pharmaceutical industry. The Oracle/Dendrite partnership was intended to combine "pharma-specific" knowledge, proven industry experience and analytical capabilities from Dendrite with an extensive e-business suite plus business intelligence and data warehousing tools from Oracle.


The intent for the partnership was to alter the market perception of both companies. Dendrite has struggled with the market perception that it "does SFA well, but not CRM." On the other hand, Oracle had not penetrated the pharmaceutical industry.


Together there is the potential for Oracle/Dendrite to provide "one solution" to cover more areas within CRM, such as call center, marketing campaign management, collateral management, data warehousing, interactive selling and incentive compensation.


Functionally, there are some potential benefits as well. Dendrite has some superior analytical capabilities in its Analytika product, which provides a deeper insight into prescription data and patient behavior. It also provides historical data that shows prescriptions over time, and hence, patient persistence with a medication, rather than merely looking at new prescriptions being written. This data is Dendrite-proprietary, and because it is voluminous, this could be a benefit to clients because of Oracle's expertise in storing, sharing and manipulating data.


It seems that there is a strong race between Siebel and Dendrite (w/Oracle as a partner). However, one could speculate that there could be more significant vendor consolidations in the pharmaceutical market to really heat up the industry.

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