By Michael ten Hove

Intelligent omnichannel transformation can tether your company to commercial success with human-like AI that continuously reshapes unique customer journeys at scale. But long-term omnichannel success doesn’t come from quick wins, and the change management approach that secures agile commercial transformation is not out-of-the-box.

So how can you collect the rewards of next-generation machine learning with your real-world difficulties—including diverse stakeholders (senior representatives, brand to sales, analytics, digital teams, IT, and even MSLs), complex content requirements, evolving digital programs and adoption challenges?

Organizational alignment is critical to driving omnichannel momentum, and your company risks failure out of the gate unless you support the implementation with three change management best practices.

1. Align senior leaders and sponsors around the fire of common purpose

The critical first step to strengthen the probability of your successful omnichannel implementation is ensuring unification between the senior stakeholders. These senior leaders not only secure executive sponsorship and provide the required funding, but they’re also the people who will prioritize the transformation against global agendas and create the cultural expectation of transformation.

Organizational Change Management

This senior group must be comprised of every key function needed to realize your omnichannel ambitions, which should be as relevant for the field force as they are for the business (marketing) and the supporting MSL team.

This same level of diversity is also necessary for your steering committee, and its members must have the right level of seniority to be effective in supporting change decisions with the administration of resources. Additionally, each senior stakeholder must be clear about the real business value of omnichannel transformation, which includes its overarching purpose, specific goals and the planned steps in your change program.

Senior leaders must understand the following:

  • the strategic content delivery that will effectively support business strategy and objectives
  • why particular channels deliver content that resonates more meaningfully with each audience
  • organizational readiness with respect to technology and resource allocation and capability
  • the key data priorities that will trigger intelligent AI processes

In other words, the outcomes must be real and achievable. Otherwise, the effort required in terms of investment and FTEs will spur doubt, breed hesitation and place your transformation at risk of abandonment.

Consider: What would happen if we didn’t change? 

I highly recommend exploring of the consequences of failing to deploy the omnichannel intelligence program. With a clear-eyed look at potential profits and penalties, your senior leaders’ common vision will be energized by carefully considering enterprise-wide perspectives, functions, missions and objectives.

Alignment creates power. It creates conviction. You need the leverage of vocal senior leaders who are willing to communicate their vision so their goals and expectations inspire organizational pursuit. 

To communicate a powerful omnichannel transformation, effective senior leaders refine long-term strategies with catalyzing tactics. First, they build expectations internally in senior stakeholder messaging or via functional heads to functional communities. These messages clearly share the purpose, value, and the ‘how to’ of implementing an omnichannel intelligence program.

After evangelizing internal resources, leaders can utilize external endorsements through industry articles and interviews to clearly establish omnichannel significance and the senior leadership’s supporting stance.

In furthering transformational support, senior stakeholders can drive an empowering approach by openly recognizing team progress and achievement.

2. Champion small victories to win big challenges

Agile companies fail fast and adjust with digestible, low-risk phases in less strategic markets and brands. With best practices documented, low-risk phases can be replicated to ensure greater and more immediate success in higher strategy ventures as the project scales.

Establishing champions on the ground to guide change and share experience back to the central team(s) is useful for training, troubleshooting and celebrating success with the brand population. As such, the right champion is an approachable, energetic enthusiast with relational skills that far outweigh their digital expertise.

Choosing and Supporting Your Champions

Given the cross-functional nature of an omnichannel approach, champions —like their senior stakeholders—should include representatives from each of the relevant areas: the field force, the business and the medical community.

Experience has shown that the optimal oversight for preventing burnout is one champion to every 20-30 people. Risk decreases as the champion’s charisma increases, but only to a point.

Remember, oversight is an addition to their principal role, and it’s important to reward a champion’s contribution with recognition, performance objectives and evaluations, and an associated bonus.

It’s also critical to employ the natural championship of First Line Managers (FLMs) and District Managers (DMs) to encourage adoption and elevate the importance of the transformation program. A number of our customers use this population to drive their teams toward their collective goals.

Finally, it’s important for the central team to establish regular feedback sessions from the brand franchise and geographic champions to ensure learning is tabled and actioned upon and champions are recognized and energized by a sense of community and the difference they make in an important, bigger effort.

3. Manage change beyond the initial deployment

Ensure ongoing omnichannel success by leveraging the steering committee to meet at a set cadence and drive the program forward. They will mediate potential omnichannel implementation challenges, review and recognize success and support change decisions—such as incorporating the commercial transformation into onboarding for newcomers and creating continued training resources.

Annual summits that gather all key stakeholders, from both the customer and vendor teams, provide the greatest impact for maintaining constructive momentum that reinforces a collective sense of purpose and direction. This is a time to recognize future opportunities and capitalize on what is working well, identify yet-to-be-working gaps and align on general KPI targets that evolve into specific benchmarks as the program matures.

How to Measure Omnichannel Success

An approach of continual improvement based on lessons learned is particularly useful for orchestrating a successful omnichannel campaign. For example, it’s unrealistic to attribute a sales uplift assessment solely to the omnichannel strategy without recognizing the diverse elements that contribute to business success.

Instead, a more accurate way to measure success may be to ask, “How has our Next-Best-Action program contributed to the improved delivery of tactics associated with strategic imperatives that deliver on our broader business objectives?”

As aligned KPIs are measured, it’s important to share and merchandize success to on-the-ground and senior stakeholders to retain and perpetuate ongoing investment.

Drive Commercial Team Adoption

At Aktana, we’ve shepherded organizational change engagements with more than half of the top-20 life sciences companies in the world and have helped more than 300 brands use Contextual Intelligence to power data-driven campaigns that yield deeper HCP engagement and stronger sales.

Predictably, as our customers’ governance strategy aligned senior leaders around a common purpose, championed small victories, and managed change beyond the initial deployment, they consistently secured buy-in and successfully transitioned to omnichannel intelligence optimization.

Likewise, as you adhere to these three change management practices, your organization will improve its probability of a strong transformation that endures and builds off itself.