Interview with Arvind S, CIO & Premkumar S, Group CEO and acting CMO of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd
PW: How important is technology for the success of the modern marketer?
PS: The 4 P‘s of Marketing clearly has given way to 4 P’s with a T (for Technology). One may look at this as 4 P‘s and a T or a Technology component engrained in each one of Price, Product, Place, and Promotion.
Price is no longer a static perspective and has become truly dynamic (read real time) and technology is making it self-discoverable at the point of shopping, comparison across options is fast and instantaneous.
Products are not cast in stone and are customizable to a market of one, thanks to a plethora of technological innovations.
Place – thanks to ICT is lot less relevant and even at physical locations the play of technology is omnipotent. Mobile stores and the like are creating value greater than storefronts.
Promotion is across a significant choice of channels all of which have technology at play, it would be impossible to have a successful promotion with the leverage of Social Media, Mobility, E-Commerce and a Digital Marketing strategy.
A marketer without technology leverage is obsolete.
PW: What are your current marketing priorities & how does that translate to technology?
PS: As the Number One healthcare provider with clinical outcomes in line with the world’s best, the priority of our marketing efforts is to “touch a billion lives” through two healthcare delivery channels namely:
1. Clinical Excellence Channels like Hospitals, REACH Hospitals,Clinics, Wellness and other similar assets. These are enabled through expert consultants backed by the best clinical technologies like Cyberknife, Robotic Surgery, 2 Tesla MRI, PET CT, 320 Slice CT, Novalis etc.
2. Technology leveraged channels like, Tele Medicine (Apollo Tele Health), Electronic Patient Health Record (HealthHiway), Healthcare e-Learning (ApolloMedvaristy) , Mobile Health ( Health Net Global).
In the forefront of Marketing action are staked a bunch of Technology initiatives that span Portals, Social Media , Mobility , Digital Salesforce enablers and Digital Marketing. These represent the Front Office. The middle office is supported by Technology assets like applications for Patient Servicing & Management, Healthcare Ecosystem (Physicians,Pharmaceuticals, Associations) Relationship and Partnership Management and bringing up the rear are the Customer Analytics & Loyalty Management systems.
PW: In your organization how has technology played a role in customer acquisition or retention?
SP: Customer Acquisition is empirically a function of Reach (Penetration, Presence, and Coverage) and Success Rate (Conversions, Hit Rate, Positive Brand Behaviour).Customer Retention in the Healthcare space is multi-dimensional, building a life time relationship with the patient served, earning the patients reference ( Net Promoter Score) and the positive clinical outcome and service experience translating into winning a life time relationship with the family and friend circle of the patient and going further to earn their reference too.
Reach is an outcome of Technology enabled Marketing activities both above the line and below the line duly pulled together by technology enabled sales force.
Each of the IT assets in the Front Office from Portals to Social Media presence to Mobile and Digital strategies are ensuring a coordinated set of actions from Carpet Bombing to Laser sharp personalized messaging.
The Middle and back office systems , which are an integral part of the Retention strategy lead by multi-channel relationship management program that sits on top of a “ Unique Healthcare ID” strategy running over the years is augmented by the value that an Electronic Medical Record system that is gaining significant traction in the marketplace.
Technology aids in making linear marketing channels behave exponentially both for Client acquisition and retention. Predicative and Big Data analytics makes communication sharper. Social media is helping get closer to the real voice of the customer and a state of the art response management infrastructure enhances customer delight.
In the midst of all this, the presence of a set of assets to deliver Healthcare through innovative technology lead channels further augments the ability to “touch a billion lives”. Lastly, technology outside the IT sphere in terms of leading clinical technologies is continuously improving clinical outcomes which are the key purpose of the sector.
PW: How has technology played a role in new product development, market expansion or other areas?
SP: Product development at Apollo is governed by Clinical Innovation on one side and Information Technological leverage on the other dimension. Few areas, where the latter plays a key role are:
1. Customer acquisition through the campaign manager (CRM) module in our PHR (Patient Health Records) by segmenting customer database & running TG specific campaigns to drive walk-ins
2. Customer retention by enabling stickiness through a one-of-its kind Health and Wellness record solutions in our PHR being available at the customer’s fingertips.
3. Ease of doing business and getting service is an a area of continuous improvement and technology tool like “eDoc” – online Doctor appointment scheduling system which enables patients to fix their own appointments directly with doctors.
4. International Research helps build solutions relevant from a Medical Tourism perspective.
5. Website and social media acts as “listening posts” to help size and develop new solutions based on client expectations.
In addition to playing an integral role in our Clinical initiatives which have been critical to our clinical outcomes & service delivery, technology has the key driver also through:
Remote Second Opinion
Integrated online training & development
24X7 Call center, provides not just information and service but also creates new solutions through its leverage.
Continuously improving experience of the Portals.
PW: What would you say is the level of collaboration between the CMO and CIO in your organization was:
SP: At Apollo, the CMO-CIO lines are nearly non-existent – effective collaboration of the CMO and CIO is an imperative in today’s market.
As the anchor and owner of many of the Technology assets right from early stages of building these marketing assets, our CIO plays the role of the primary stakeholder.
The CIO is sized of tasks, such as adoption level of Primary Health Records a key market facing tool. Thus, is automatically aligned to continuous specification improvement.
The CIO has chair, an important one in all key marketing campaigns. Billion Hearts Beating program is a great example of this.
Significant new product development is taken up as a Joint ownership between the CMO and the CIO. Thus, sizing, scoping and functionality are clearly not a battle or a surprise.
It would be appropriate to state that the CMO is as much an owner of the technology solutions as the CIO is the owner of the marketing plans.