Phygital: Future of Pharmaceutical Industry
Dr. Sandeep Narular
Professor at School of Pharmaceutical Management
IIHMR University, Jaipur

Technology adoption has spun the way healthcare and pharma industries are operating these days. This article explains how going Phygital - a marketing term that describes blending digital experiences with physical ones - will help to bridge the gap between technological possibility and real-world application in pharmaceutical industry.

Mobile Technology:

As per Hootsuite report, with total 8.05 bn mobile connections, and with total 4.92 bn mobile users worldwide certainly unleashes huge untapped potential to business organization forcing them declare their business strategy as "mobile first" strategy and compelling them to think new ways to get connected with the customers with latest mobile apps and mobile technology with mobile-friendly promotion of products and services.


Recent proliferation of data on social media platforms and eagerness of people to leave their digital prints is simply enticing the business organization to discover new techniques to study consumer behavior, usage patterns and market trends and then offering customized solutions. Advanced and real time analytics, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Neural networks are competent enough to derive and offer right product to right customer at right place and at right time.

Cloud platforms:

To be digitally progressive in the current business scenario, organization have to invest in cloud platforms as without cloud computing digital transformation will be incomplete. As per recent Dell report, companies that invest in cloud computing, big data, and mobility, have 53% faster revenue growth than competitors. Business organizations can have the advantages of cost-saving, security, flexibility, mobility, insights, Increased collaboration, quality control, disaster recovery, loss prevention with cloud computing.

Internet of Things (IoT):

Connectivity with daily working devices is certainly now a routine for the society. With increased usage of sensors and smart devices, connectivity is going to touch its new height in coming times. Manufacturing operations, smart building, smart cities, connected cars, smart lighting are some of the most common areas where IoT is in full swing. Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Blackberry, Gartner, SAP is some of leading companies in IoT business, with Intel and Microsoft leading the race.

Pharmaceutical companies need to fully leverage the existing potential of SMACT elements, by combining the digital elements with traditional physical channels and making them Phygital.

The Phygital World:

Since majority of the business organizations are using SMACT, but when it comes to Pharmaceutical industry, the picture is dismal and far from satisfactory, as per YellowElephant report, only 6%-7% of the pharmaceutical companies are using Digital Mediums for their product promotion. As compared to Banking and Insurance sector, where they are claiming of Omnichannel customer experience, for Pharmaceutical Industry this appears to a distant reality. In context to the pharmaceutical product, the companies can start from Stage 1 and eventually they can scale up to Stage 5, as shown below:

The Omnichannel experiences with the customer gives the business organizations a great amount of leverage to interact with the customer and to improve the understanding and relationships with the customer, hence which can lead to loyalty and ease of implementation of CRM strategies and the CRM tools obviously gives us the platform to use Sales and Marketing Automation tools which helps in sending customized SMS, emails or even personalized messages too. Among this probably, the best tool which comes to my mind is Beacon (in fact Beacon is small Blue tooth radio transmitter), so far in my knowledge at least in the pharmaceutical sector, this tool has not been explored, where as in retail business, this is nowadays used aggressively. In Pharmaceuticals, the companies can use it ESP. In CMEs, Drug Promotion conferences, API gatherings or any other promotion platforms which the companies can explore, esp. in case of geolocation services (again a blend of Phygital) it utility becomes significant. The same can be used in a wearable device (IoT, again Phygital) by a patient (in OPD or IPD) can offer a great help in patient navigation /hospital services. It also offers great advantage in data transmission too .

Digital Transformation-Need of the hour

Pharmaceutical companies should think to transform their business in a holistic manner; it is not an individual responsibility, but it's a collective responsibility. Like in past for a CEO, knowledge of finance was extremely important to run the business, similarly in the current business situation, it is imperative for the business leader to have a sound and comprehensive knowledge of digital technology, as from now onwards every processes, every product, every services, which are going to be delivered will be using digital technology. Since it is very difficult to chart out the specificities of digital transformation in this article, but one thing is sure, the process need to be initiated by revamping the existing Management Information System. In my opinion the following in terrelated themes, as shown in the table above, needs to be revamped/upgraded in order to make the organization digitally transformed:

The story of Phygital world and Digital Transformation is not to end here. Pharmaceutical companies must need to address the need of the hour diligently and must take long strides in achieving the Digital transformation activities. In my opinion this is the best, sound and safe strategy. The five elements, SMACT is simply setting the pace towards the Phygital world.