Are We There Yet? Reaching “True” Omnichannel

with Deborah Cava

In Episode 13 of Contextual Intelligence, we interview Deborah Cava, U.S. Oncology Portfolio Strategy Marketing Director at Merck—the company she’s called home for her entire 32-year career. From the field sales arms race of the 90s to the industry’s current obsession with omnichannel, Deb has seen the commercial model grow in complexity from more vantage points than most.

Thirteen years after taking on her first “multichannel” role, Deb reflects on the state of pharma’s digital transformation and explores what’s working, what’s not, and what the industry can do to simplify and improve the customer experience. Listen as she shares her perspective on the industry’s current omnichannel fervor, the increased pressure to be customer-centric in oncology, and her advice for getting honest about what customers really want from pharma. This is a fantastic listen, but if you’re short on time, start with our list of key takeaways below.

Key Takeaways 

[3:46] – The most significant industry shifts that Deb’s experienced during her 30+ year career

The advent of AI and other advanced technologies to make smarter decisions about therapeutics, diagnostics and supporting physicians is one of them.

[6:34] – The big leap that life sciences organizations still need to make in order to better serve their customers

The industry keeps investing in new data and capabilities, but are they leveraging these assets to their fullest potential? Not yet, says Deb.

[9:47] – Deb’s reaction to the current fervor around omnichannel 13 years after her first multichannel marketing role at Merck

“I’m relieved that people are finally looking at engagement channels more holistically.”

[11:49] – Is omnichannel, in the most literal sense, a feasible goal?

Dynamically defining engagement preferences for every customer may be commercial pharma’s North Star, but it’s also a Herculean task.

[16:22] – Striking the balance between global efficiency and local differentiation

Global may make purchasing decisions, but markets need the freedom to quickly localize solutions to fit their needs and regulations.

[19:02] – Adapting to the complexity of the oncology market

“In my 32-year career, I’ve never seen an area just exponentially explode like oncology.”

[21:09] – “Are we helping with the overwhelm, or are we contributing to it?”

Multiple brands, multiple indications, multiple promotions—and that’s just at one company. The net result is an enormous amount of content and tactics hitting the customer at the same time.

[24:32] – What career would Deb pursue outside of life sciences?

Building a career out of one of the most fulfilling aspects of parenting.

About Contextual Intelligence

Contextual Intelligence is a podcast by Aktana that conducts discussions with smart and interesting people from different avenues of life sciences and artificial intelligence. Focused on important, relevant topics within these industries, the podcast shares learnings from industry experts that you can apply to your own business situations.