Veeva Injects Fresh Blood Into Pharma CRM

Veeva Systems last week introduced several new CRM products for the pharmaceutical industry at its 2015 Customer Summit in Philadelphia.

Veeva CRM Suggestions offers recommendations on the best action and right channel for the next customer interaction. It’s designed to accelerate the transition to a new multichannel model. All Veeva CRM customers will get this tool automatically in the fall.

CRM Suggestions, powered by the suggestion engine from ZS Associates, resulted from a strategic partnership between the companies.

Veeva also unveiled two major Veeva Commercial Cloud products: Veeva Align and Veeva CRM Events Management.

Align is a global solution integrated with Veeva CRM for faster, more accurate sales territory alignments.

CRM Events Management lets companies better manage all events in coordination with field staff. It also provides full visibility into activities, speakers, attendees and spend.

“Flexible, industry-specific cloud CRM solutions that enable pharmaceutical sales and marketing teams to leverage today’s numerous communications channels efficiently are critical to the industry,” said Veeva CEO Peter Gassner.

“It’s increasingly more difficult to connect with busy physicians, so a multichannel CRM system gives teams various access points,” he told CRM Buyer. “In addition, as a highly regulated industry, pharma needs solutions that ensure greater control and visibility into how and what commercial teams communicate with their customers.”

Veeva’s cloud-based CRM, content management and customer master solutions “provide industry-specific functionality that helps organizations get drugs to market faster, maximize sales and maintain compliance,” Gassner said.

CRM for Pharma

“The reason for pharma CRM is counterintuitive,” noted Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research.

Pharma is highly regulated, and vendors are legally restrained from making claims about products that don’t match what the products were approved for, “so not only do sales people need to walk a very straight line, but they also have to be able to prove that they always do,” he told CRM Buyer.

For pharmaceutical firms, CRM “is a record keeper of what goes on in one-to-one calls on doctors and pharmacists,” Pombriant said.

CRM systems are also the repository of all approved content and track the use of such content.

Issues Pharma Faces

The processes for customer interactions across clinical safety, support, sales and marketing operations are unique to the pharmaceutical industry.

Competition from generics is squeezing profit margins, and aspects of healthcare reform — such as managed care and fixed reimbursements — create artificial cost thresholds and restrict revenues.

“CRMs, if utilized well, can be vital to a pharmaceutical company,” said Aish Vivekanandan, healthcare and life sciences industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“CRMs are more than data-handling electronic systems, and once pharmaceuticals can look beyond the operational and transactional information, they can provide deep insights into consumer behavior,” she told CRM Buyer.

The pharmas can use this data to build a better consumer model to improve the customer experience.

The increasing digitalization of healthcare “is only going to drive the need for CRMs in the pharmaceutical sector,” Vivekanandan predicted.

Veeva’s Place in the Game

Veeva is a longtime ecosystem partner, and its main competition is Oracle Siebel, Pombriant said.

The company “has been a pioneer in delivering cloud-based SaaS solutions to the pharma industry,” observed Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director at Thinkstrategies.

It was the first company to build an industry-specific CRM solution on’s platform, which it has enhanced to serve the particular needs of the pharma industry, he told CRM Buyer.

“A clear indication of the company’s rapid growth is its latest quarter results: total revenue of US$89.9 million, up 35 percent year over year, and subscription services revenue of $68.9 million, up 42 percent year over year,” Kaplan noted.

“Deep industry knowledge and technical expertise have allowed Veeva to become the innovation engine for its life science customers,” said Veeva’s Gassner.

Veeva “really understands the industry,” said Beagle’s Pombriant, “and the unique processes.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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