Booster Shots

Booster Shots

Even the highly competitive, high-cost pharmaceutical industry is starting to sit up and take notice—for cost-cutting benefits and in response to pressure from regulators to meet marketing guidelines. London-based AstraZeneca, for example, the maker of the $2 billion heartburn drug Nexium, is using DAM to help ensure it meets its internal standards for accuracy and consistency across its 170 public Web sites and 1,300 intranet sites. The company, among a dozen being investigated by U.S. Attorney's offices in Boston and Philadelphia over allegations of inducements used to persuade doctors and health plans to prescribe its drugs, wants to better control how its content is written and distributed to customers. According to Stephen Taylor, the company's business engagement manager, the firm is thinking of ways to use DAM to communicate directly with doctors, via the Web, about the merits of a new drug. The goal, says Taylor: To reach those doctors who don't have time for a physical visit from one of AZ's sales agents. "There's always a certain core of doctors who haven't the time nor the desire to see a sales representative," Taylor says, "and the average time you get with a representative, especially in the U.S., is usually about 30 seconds." DAM, he says, might help AstraZeneca sell more drugs, but it also "gives doctors a way to view an infomercial about a new drug on their own time."

Down the road, says Gistic's Moon, DAM could hold even more promise. For example, he says, managers could use DAM to track which assets sales agents use most, and help identify which sales people are the best. "The chief marketing officer could use this to look for differences among A-team members, to find out, for example, why the A-team member in the northeast territory is doing something that the A-team member in the southwest isn't doing—and then tie that to figuring out why the northeast territory is 11 percent over quota while the southwest is 5 percent under," says Moon. "That's a piece of data that closes the loop for the CMO to come back and say, 'Something's going on here'— and then be able to fix it."

How to get started? BBDO CIO Pannuto advises other CIOs mulling DAM to look at it as a business strategy, "not a technology implementation" or failure is a sure thing. (See "Viewpoint," page 54.) Gartner Inc. analyst Toby Bell suggests companies might want, as a first step, to name a content strategist whose job it would be to create an inventory of corporate media assets, start cataloging them and then convene executives to consider their potential for strategic business use. "A lot of IT shops are looking for cost recovery, doing some ROI calculations, trying to eliminate a large number of moving parts," says Bell. "At the same time, though, they should review what the prospects are for using their existing information assets."

Just ask Martha Stewart. Last spring, the company, pressed by Kmart's financial woes as well as its own, sought to expand its line of Everyday products into the Canadian market. Sears Canada Inc. was interested, but needed a rundown of the company's products—and fast. Before the DAM system was in place, putting this sort of presentation together would have taken months, as the needed images and product information would have been in multiple locations, and "there would have been no way to pull all of that together and create it fast enough," Beauchesne says. What's more, the presentation would have been delivered in an enormous, clunky, paper-stuffed binder that would have taken "multiple people multiple weeks" to assemble. Thanks to DAM, Beauchesne says, the company was able to create a package, all on CD-ROM, within minutes. The payoff? By summer, Martha Stewart products will be available in all 162 Sears Canada stores, as well as in the Sears Canada print catalog and Web site.

Was DAM the only reason MSO won that new partnership? Beauchesne says no. But there's no doubt that it helped seal the deal in the time required—and that, agrees Beauchesne, was a really good thing.

Debra D'Agostino is a reporter at CIO Insight magazine. Staff researcher Bijal Saraiya contributed to this report. Please send comments about this story to editors@cioinsight-ziffdavis.com.

This article was originally published on 05-01-2003
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