Mobile enterprise solutions are starting to gain traction after a period of sluggish growth, as vendors look to gain a competitive advantage by developing applications for niche vertical markets. Mobile sales force automation in the pharmaceuticals industry offers one such opportunity. Up to now deployments have been limited, but in the longer term growth prospects look good.
Mobile solution vendors want to develop industry-specific strategies.
With the market for mobile enterprise solutions picking up, vendors are developing strategies that target niche vertical markets to differentiate their offerings. Opinions are divided as to which markets will prove most lucrative, but opportunities exist in personal information management, national security, public safety, on factory floors and in the pharmaceuticals industry.
With 80,000 pharmaceuticals sales representatives in the US alone, mobile sales force automation (SFA) applications can be a real boon for salespeople out on the road. Salespeople must contend with a number of impediments to their working day, including cancelled appointments, excessive downtime, incomplete information on customers and competitors and a lack of visibility regarding mirror sales teams.
Mobile SFA has been designed to address such pain points, helping sales representatives make better use of their downtime, providing remote access to data on companies and competitors, and automating processes such as the capturing of physicians’ signatures.
To date, vendors including Avantgo and Extended Systems have developed such niche mobile SFA applications for pharmaceuticals. In an industry that is traditionally tight-lipped, however, public announcements of any details have been scarce.
At present, penetration of mobile data technology in the sector remains low. For example, only around 20% of sales reps capture physician signatures on mobile devices in the US. The benefits of improved efficiencies and access to relevant data through mobile technology are clear, however, and the pharmaceutical industry has been scaling up its sales force investments in recent years.
Although rarely renowned as a first mover in technology investment, large pharmaceuticals companies have deep pockets and will make technology investments given time. So while in the next 12 months stellar growth for mobile SFA in pharmaceuticals is unlikely, in the medium to long-term opportunities look far more promising.
Related research: Datamonitor, 2002: Mobile Enterprise Infrastructure (DMTC0806)
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