Q&A: Richard Jenkinson, Interactive Medica

Interactive Medica delivers Web-based applications supported by appropriate professional services that enable Life Sciences companies to effectively manage their sales and marketing resources and collaborate with healthcare providers to help maximise sales. Interactive Medica aims to offer tangible cost savings and competitive market advantages for its clients. We spoke with Richard Jenkinson, CEO of Interactive Medica, to understand more about the concept of “Life Science CRM”.

What was the concept behind Interactive Medica?
The very short answer is “it’s in the name!”—Interactive Medica. The basic idea was to use SaaS/cloud technology as an enabler to improve the way that Life Sciences companies and the local/national health providers interacted with each other, thus increasing the efficiency of the health eco-system in general. Of course, we realised that this was all pretty blue sky and the reality of the situation was that in dealing with Life Science companies our job was to create “winners”—those companies that embraced new technology and a new approach from a new vendor that would enable them to interact and manage their clients in the local health services in a significantly more effective and agile way.

What are Interactive Medica’s key company values?
Like any company we have values that guide how we behave as an organisation. An individual’s experience of a company comes down to the people they interact with. We want to show we’ve got a real ‘can do’ attitude and complement that with an openness that customers wouldn’t necessarily get from a competitor. Given the organisations we work with, our guiding values are based on what matters most to our clients: integrity, accountability and dedication.

Was it a ‘hard sell’ to get people in the pharma industry to recognise cloud computing in an industry that is traditionally very set in its ways?
CRM itself was a very established technology in the industry, but it was viewed as a necessity rather than something that could deliver bottom line benefits. Additionally, vendors had delivered overly complex applications with low end user compliance. Until Interactive Medica came along there wasn’t a viable alternative. I’m not saying we launched and then suddenly we were deluged with clients. We had to work hard, but once we got people in front of the product and they could see how it could be personalised to meet their organisation’s exact needs, they were impressed. In some ways the economic turbulence over the last couple of years has worked in our favour as it opened up the industry to more cost effective approaches to CRM.

Monolithic legacy systems are unable to adapt to the digital world. If you want to make changes to traditional CRM systems, it comes at a significant price, both in time and cost. But with our approach to Web-based systems this is not the case. Changes can be made in a matter of days. This gives our customers more agility and the intelligence to be more competitive in a market that is at a tipping point with new markets becoming more prominent.

What was it about cloud computing that made you realise you could turn your business idea into a reality?
All businesses want flexibility and fast ROI. We know from our own experience in both the software and Pharma sectors, that nothing can be successfully implemented if its efficacy isn’t fast and clearly measurable. The nature of our approach to delivering cloud solutions is that it is able to deliver both of these and also its adaptability means it’s easy to tailor to specific demands. Each Life Science organisation will have its own way of doing things, personal demands and specific output that they desire from their CRM. That’s what the cloud gives customers, without the cost associated with on-premise software. It’s pretty simple really, the Life Sciences industry is one of a long line of industries that is beginning to realise the benefits the cloud can bring to their business.

What trends do you think will play out in the pharma industry in 2011?
This year is a critical one for the industry. The changing and more complex way that drugs are procured will have a negative effect on those companies that are not sufficiently agile to adapt to the new market conditions. The big four trends that we are seeing emerge in the market are:

  • A continued move from single-tenant to multi-tenant web applications
  • Businesses are looking for lower cost of technology for more return to get a bigger bang for their buck
  • The “first movers” are starting the move towards really mobile solutions, including the iPad 3G
  • Demand for collaborative, sophisticated and highly bespoke Key Account Management applications to enable companies’ new commercial strategies to be effectively implemented, measured and managed

What tech company do you wish you’d invested in?
Apple. I’ve been a fan of the company for the last 20 years and can only wish I’d bought shares before the rest of the world realised that usability and design are critical factors in technology.

Will CRM 2.0 succeed where CRM failed?
Cloud computing and SaaS tech technology has reinvigorated what was always a great concept, but previous CRM systems were expensive, sprawling and hard to use. A CRM system will only be as good as its interface: if it’s hard to use and difficult to navigate, the sales team just aren’t going to use it. As a result, your understanding of sales opportunities becomes inaccurate and distorted. Increase usability and you increase usage and acceptance. Also, it’s something of a two-way relationship. In the past CRM systems were more like a database – sales did all the giving of data and the CRM system just took it. Now though, CRM gives back and can help users to use their limited resources more effectively. It really can provide the intelligence needed to support decision making and add value to the sales process.

Why is customer experience so key?
To a certain extent it doesn’t matter what sector you operate in. If you can’t deliver a great customer experience there will be someone else who can and it takes just two clicks of a mouse to find them. There are a number of companies providing the Life Science industry with CRM solutions, but few, if any, have the right mindset. As a whole, the industry tries to get its customers to conform to a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but this isn’t reflective of customer needs. Each company has unique requirements and it’s important to recognise that. I want Interactive Medica to deliver an experience that goes above and beyond what our customers expect. If we don’t then we’re not going to be able to work with the calibre of companies we want, or grow. Customer experience is at the heart of our business. It underpins our success.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.