Recap of Pharma CI 2019, USA

The annual US Pharma CI conference and Exhibition was held in Newark, New Jersey on September 18-19, 2019. Many of the leading global pharmaceutical competitive intelligence executives and service providers attended. Fletcher/CSI, has been involved with the conference for 17 years as a sponsor and supporter, identified an important shift in the overall tone and focus of this year’s conference. In recent years, themes centered around processes and structures, whereas this year’s themes centered around bigger picture, more strategic elements.  

The Role of Technology

Evolving technologies, the role technology is currently playing in the pharmaceutical industry, and the expected future impacts tech will have on pharma was a focus area. The keynote was by a Senior Business Lead at Google on the role of technology in connecting patients, caregivers and others, and nearly a dozen presentations emphasized the impact of technology. Session topics ranged from the impact traditionally consumer-focused companies like Apple and Amazon will have, to the role Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and overall digital health initiatives will have on the industry.

Several of the sessions tried to find answers as to how big pharma will embrace the strategic implications of technology. Pharma has and will continue to tactically partner and align with companies and certain technologies for specific applications (discovery, marketing, etc.). However, as one session noted, the pharmaceutical industry rates in the lowest quartile in terms of digital health; from a strategic standpoint, the industry as a whole is not prepared for the impacts of technology. (As a very timely aside, on September 20, 2019 Microsoft announced it had nominated GSK’s CEO to it Board of Directors, which should be beneficial for both organizations).

Technology Tools & Market Changes

In one session, a Competitive Insights Director from a large pharma company shared his knowledge of technology tools including social listening tools (like Synthesia and Quic), audience mapping tools (Affinio), BI benchmarking for social media monitoring (DOMO), public information aggregators (like Fletcher/CSI’s Contify), smart search engines (Alphasense and CBinsights) and knowledge management tools (like Market Logic and Sharpr).  One key takeaway of the session is that human and machine collaboration helps to improve accuracy, and while products and features are currently fragmented, we will see consolidation as AI learning evolves.

There were several talks around expected market changes, industry disruptions and, market opportunities. Fletcher/CSI’s presentation centered on Planning for New Pharmaceutical Marketing. Discussion points included new entrants and vertical integrations of payers, PBMs, pharmacies and providers; partnerships being formed between technology, pharma and healthcare; non- traditional players like Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway (with Haven, their combined health care start-up); and tools that Fletcher/CSI commonly uses to help companies better understand their own and their competitors abilities to successfully embrace these changes.  

Overall, the 2019 US Pharma CI conference and Exhibition conference consisted of several interesting presentations, round table discussions and breakout sessions. It is a valuable resource for CI professional who work within and around the changing world of health care and pharma. For more information on this conference or Fletcher/CSI’s services, please visit or call Cinda Steele, SVP Life Science Practice at (610) 496-0080.

We hope to see you at the Pharma CI conference in Europe in 2020!