Embracing digital

There seems to be no shortage of conferences on digital comms these days. I attended the DigiPharm event in London, we have the m-health event, a UK social media event and at least two European events devoted to pharma e-marketing.

To look at these, you’d think the industry had fully embraced the subject and was leading the digital revolution.

But we know better.

Having attending these events for around 6 years now, the reality is that they’re attended by a core of like-minded industry specialists that changes very little from one to the next.

There has been an evolution in the type of projects and technology being discussed, with social media and mobile now well established, so this group is on top of the latest trends. But the average brand manager is conspicuously absent.

The reality is that the delegate profile is relatively narrow and the people who would benefit most don’t attend.

This is symptomatic of the scenario back in the office, where so many are unconvinced or unaware of the opportunities for digital communication.

They are still uncertain about building physician and patient relationships through online channels.

It is something of a catch-22, in that people don’t attend the meetings because they aren’t convinced of the need, and perceptions won’t change until people see what the best of the industry is doing at these events.

In the meantime a select few have an uphill challenge to drive change and keep up with fast-moving customer expectations.

Google’s industry lead Jens Monsees says that Pharma is the last industry to fully buy into the internet.

Until these events can reach beyond the enthusiasts and attract mainstream marketing managers, the industry will remain a late adopter and these events will be preaching to the converted.