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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lazy IT "Nazis" Thwart iPad Use by Sales Reps

In a recent post, Rich Myer asked "how can pharma avoid the 'IT Nazis'"? Of course, he meant "Nazi" in a "good" sense, akin to the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld, the old TV sitcom.

Myer was talking about faulty IT policies that disallow pharma employees -- including marketers -- from accessing "a whole range of sites" on company computers while at work.

"There comes a time when some IT policies could hurt pharma marketers and prevent them from learning what is going on around the health conditions they market in and treatment options they market," said Myer (here).

But this may not be the only way that the Pharma IT "Nazis" are hurting pharma marketers. They may also be standing in the way of more widespread adoption of iPads by sales reps.

While at CBI's Sample Management and Mobile Sales conference yesterday in Princeton, NJ, I heard from some pharma people about the "limitations" of iPad use by sales reps in a roundtable discussion. In one case, IT took away all the iPads from reps and replaced them with MS Surface Tablets so that reps can use MS Excel and Word desktop applications without switching to a laptop.

Someone at the table called this "The Excel Spreadsheet Hurdle."

Now, I'm not going to get into the fact that Microsoft Surface Tablet Sales are "Nothing to Brag About" (see here, for example) and the folly of betting on a dead horse in the tablet race.

But taking the iPads away from sales reps to run desktop programs like Excel is so old school! It's an example of how legacy systems are putting pharma on the wrong side of the digital divide.

What do sales reps use Excel for? The major use seems to be travel and expense reporting. Why isn't there a mobile app for that? Pharma IT people should be able to create these or buy them from vendors pretty easily. Are they "Nazis" or just lazy or too cheap?

Another "hurdle" to iPad adoption I heard was that many Web pages sales reps need to access on mobile devices like smartphones and iPads do not display very well on these devices. Duh! I've already explained how pharma could greatly benefit by optimizing their web sites for mobile (see "Mobile Optimization Offers Better ROI Than Mobile Apps").

When I pointed out these and few other "technical" tips to the people at the table, you would have thought I was a technology genius! One woman asked me if I had any other good ideas. That's when I handed out my infamous @Pharmaguy card with the QR codes (see here). That, of course, lead to another discussion -- about QR codes -- What are they? How do I read them?, etc.

Some day this stuff will be as simple as pie for pharma marketers. Right now, however, I am a big fish swimming in a small pond, if you know what I mean.

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