Final video of Digital Pharma: The Impression

We don’t seem to get enough of that video thingie during the Digital Pharma Congress in Barcelona. This time it’s the impression of the congress itself. Check it out…


Third part of my presentation

Finally got some time to edit the final part of my presentation at the Digital Pharma congress in Barcelona: “Best Practices Using Internal Social Media”. Check it out here:


First two videos of my presentation at Digital Pharma

Found myself some time to make my ‘SteveNote’ way of my presentation given at Digital Pharma in Barcelona last month. For a detailed report on the event, see here.

I have split my presentation (Best Practices for the Use of Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools for Internal Collaboration) in three parts:

Part 1: The Need for Innovation in Pharma
Part 2: Social Media and Internal Collaboration
Part 3: Best Practices Using Web 2.0 and Internal Collaboration

In this blogpost the first two episodes (it was late, so the third one coming up asap).

The Force is strong in this one: CloudForce London 2009


In a previous post I have introduced Cloud Computing as one of the ‘Next Big Things’ in the internet world. Without realizing it I have been using the Cloud for several years (GMail, WordPress) but now it seems to really take off. Some people say Cloud Computing is just a new hype, a new marketing term for something already existing for a long term. Or that Cloud Computing will eventually die due to all security issues. And let’s face it, the recent outage of Google’s services which prohibited GMail users access their mail for a few hours doesn’t help. Thought that may be so, it still remains a fact that more and more people are using these applications online and that even Microsoft is developing a cloud OS.

If one company has put the term ‘Cloud Computing’ on the map, it certainly is My first encounter with Salesforce was years ago on a congress, albeit I didn’t pay a lot of attention at that time. More recently, with the development of our innovation platform, Salesforce appeared on the radar again. We have recently done a QuickStart with them which is based on their Ideas platform. But more about that in a later post. Now I want to tell you how Salesforce puts their message in the market and claims ownership of the cloud.

Claiming the Clouds
Since we are a customer of Salesforce we got an invitation to participate in the CloudForce. The CloudForce is a gathering of (potential) Salesforce customers, this time in the ExCel centre in London. It basically is a roadshow based on their DreamForce event in the US, a three day congress on all things cloud. The main purpose no doubt is to inform customers about new developments on their platform and to give their third party developers an opportunity to showcase their apps. But overall I also think it is to impress. To claim their space in the cloud. And impress they certainly did. In a distinctive US marketing way they completely covered the ExCel Centre into blue and white, with catchy slogans and Web 2.0-ish logos. They even had walking ‘No Software’ logos greeting you at the entrance. Micky Mouse would be jealous. 

Clouds all over the place

Clouds all over the place

The morning session was reserved for a keynote by Salesforce’s co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff. Clearly inspired by Apple’s Keynote and Steve Jobs’ performance -big hall, thousands of people, black curtains, bright logos, large screen and inspiring music (OK, turtleneck, jeans and sneakers were missing), Benioff gave a passionate presentation about his platform. This was a brand new presentation and since he wanted feedback he exceptionally allowed people to have a handout. He focussed on three main subjects: the Sales Cloud, the Service Cloud and Your Cloud. These three Clouds are then combined in the ‘Real-Time Cloud’, i.e. all is happening right away, information at your fingertips.

Marc's SteveNote

Marc's SteveNote

The Sales Cloud basically is the tradional sales module. Managing accounts and contacts, sales reporting, automation of lead capture and close opportunities, forecasting, etcetera. They must have thought that while copying Apple for the look and feel of the keynote, they might as well inspire themselves by other Apple goodies. And so the Genius was born. I didn’t really get the idea but to my understanding you can find similar content with one push of a button. Where have I seen that before?

The next member of the family of clouds is the Service Cloud and consists of several services, such as Call Centre, E-mail to Case, Chat, Customer Portal, Ideas, Partners, Google and Social. Social is quite interesting and can no doubt be considered a new and innovative way of using the cloud for Customer Service purposes. So what is it? In Salesforce’s opinion, the way companies have set up their Customer Services really is a thing of the past. Customers don’t call the company when the encounter a problem with one of their products. Instead, they place a comment on Facebook, tweet in Twitter or post on a forum. In other words, social all over the place. And the chance that the problem is solved in no time by fellow bloggers, Facebookers of Tweeters is pretty obvious. Traditionally companies can not tap into that ‘social knowledge’. Not so when they use the Service Cloud. Using an interface between the Salesforce platform and social netwoks such as Facebook and Twitter companies can interact with the questions and directly transfer the question and answer to their own database, to be used for future queries. Clever solution which will no doubt appeal to many companies.

Your Cloud is then the assimilation of cloud services from the previously described clouds, using the elements you want.

Full house

Full house


No Idea?
Unfortunately little was mentioned about Ideas, the module we’re using. It seems that everytime the word ‘Ideas’ is used ‘Starbucks‘ and ‘Dell‘ coincide within the same sentence. No doubt considered A-customers. I do have the feeling that this module doesn’t get the attention it deserves. At least not on this convention, and if you look at Ideas itself you might find yourself drawing the same conclusion. 

The second part of the day was reserved for breakout sessions. In 5 tracks participants could join the discussion about a certain topic: Using the cloud the grow sales (always works for executives), Using the cloud to improve service and lower costs, Cloud computing for IT pros, Developing applications in the cloud and Simple Steps to CRM success. I did participate in the Service cloud session but did not find it an added value compared to what I had already seen, apart from the fact that you were able to ask questions. The last session I went to dealt with VisualForce, the visualization module making your Salesforce sites ‘look nice’ by changing just about anything. Lines of codes where popping up and off the screen, so way to cloudy for me.


No bitterballen for us
The show ended at 5pm but we were gone to our next meeting at 4pm. Later we learned that the Dutch country organization of Salesforce had invited the Dutch participants for bitterballen and beer. But when sending out this invitation only one day prior to the event one might expect some clash in agendas. It was certainly worthwile to visit CloudForce, if it was only to see the dedication Salesforce puts into this fast growing segment. Don’t know if I will be visiting again though. Depends a bit on the decision whether we contineu with Salesforce or not. But even in that case it could be interesting to follow this company. They certainly seem to have a vision on the next iteration of business software. And they’re not afraid to shout it out loud.

Other resources:



Introducing: Shwen Gwee as co-blogger

sg-pic-1-240x180I am a proud co-blogger of  Med 2.0, the brainchild of Shwen Gwee. Shwen is a great guy with a clear vision on where the US pharma industry should move using social media. For that matter we found our counterpart on the other side of the ocean, since many of our thoughts are exactly the same as his. I am therefore happy to announce that we were able to get Shwen on board as a co-blogger on our blog as well. This partnership will mutually benefit the readers on our blog, extending our combined expertise and ideas about social media even further across the globe.

We blogged about Shwen before here and here, but for those of you not knowing Shwen, hereinafter a summary of his resume (proudly stolen from his blog):

Shwen’s career goal and aspiration is to combine his background in academia (science), agency (med comm), and industry (pharma) together with his interest, experience, and passion for emerging technologies and new/social media, in order to drive innovation in science and medicine.

Currently, Shwen is part of the Business Solutions group at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where he leads Health Informatics and New Media initiatives. He acts as the primary interface between various business groups, strategizing and implementing technology solutions to support key business needs, with a primary focus on New and Social Media, Web 2.0, and Health 2.0.

Prior to Vertex, Shwen was a Senior Manager of Marketing Communications at Sepracor Inc., where he managed the Respiratory Speakers Bureau and related KOL meetings and events. He also regularly advised-on and contributed-to various emerging technology and web based projects.
And before Sepracor, Shwen was a Web Producer and Scientific Editor at the Neuroscience Education Institute — a medical communications agency that develops continuing medical education (CME) programs in Psychopharmacology.

Shwen obtained a BS (suma cum laude) in behavioral neuroscience from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Subsequently, he completed his graduate research in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Cambridge (England, UK), where he also earned a certificate in entrepreneurship.

Shwen currently sits on the advisory board for Pharm LLC (

Shwen’s areas of expertise and interests include:

  • Emerging Technologies and New/Social Media (e.g. podcasting, blogging, wikis, etc.)
  • Medical communications and CME
  • Learning technologies and adult learning trends
  • Neuroscience and behavioral pharmacology
  • Web and multimedia development/management
  • Innovation, entrepreneurship, and new business models

Welcome on board Shwen, and happy blogging!

Erik and René

Hacking away!


You won’t believe it, but I am actually typing this on my tiny little HackBook, aka Dell Mini 9. Running Leopard 10.5.6 smoothly and all hardware -as far as I can see now- seems to be working. The keyboard is really small, so I have to get used to it quite a bit. But overall this is one dell of a machine (pun intended). So what happened between now and my last post about this emotionally challenging experiment?

It took Dell about three weeks to actually deliver the box. On a Wednesday I reserved the evening and dubbed it my solo Hackintosh event. I’m not stupid using a computer and I usually find my way around, but I’m certainly no hardcore hacker. So a tedious online research on the protocols of hacking a Dell Mini 9 was imperative. Fortunately I was not the only nerd with the desire to have a Mac the size of a book so I could find a vast amount of forums where real geeks were kind enough to describe the process step by step. I even prepared a USB stick with the necessary software: MacOS X. 

But first back to the box. Being a Mac user for almost my entire computer life (not true, after my Commodore 64 and Amiga I did start using a PC/AT but was converted to a Mac when I was working for Janssen Pharmaceutica back in 1993, and never looked back) you get used to quality. It sure does sound like a cliche, but opening a Dell box is not the same experience as opening an Apple box (yes, I am biased but doing my utmost to be objective. Seriously). From a marketing point of view intruiging. Apple’s packaging is a true form of art, with even the plastic bags inside sealed with silver wires. Dell’s box is just… a box.

Unboxing a Dell is... different

Unboxing a Dell is... different

Once opened I was first confronted with the physical form factor of the Dell Mini 9. I confess, it did touch my feminin part in me: “How cute!” (now this is out in the open I will from now on only talk GHz, GB, RAM and CPU power). The price tag of €299 became obvious. The Dell Mini 9 feels more like a Fisherprice laptop with plastic all over the place.

So I was ready to go but first I needed to make yet another USB stick with a ‘bootloader’.

Originally the Dell doesn’t recognise the Mac OS. In order to ‘fool’ the Dell one need to load a specific piece of software during startup which makes it understand a USB stick with MacOS X. This bootloader has to be set up in Windows XP. So here the fun started…

Although I use XP in a compulsary way at work, I soon came to realize that being a Mac user I am really, seriously spoiled. I booted up XP and entered the confusing world of this antique OS. OK, I admit that my Dell came with XP Home Edition which is no doubt the most notorious and inferior OS in the family of XP, but still. It started with a mismatch between the keyboard and the OS. I had a US keyboard whereas XP thought I had a Dutch one. Result: all symbols completely messed-up. That really became a problem in the next geeky part, creating the bootloader. I also needed wireless internet but Windows could not get any connection (although it said it was connected but could not find an IP address, or something like that).

I won’t go into detail, but creating the bootloader involved starting up the command line after which I ended up in a kind of window with DOS. Wait, I’ll write that again: DOS. As in Disk Operating System. As in the eighties.

So the code I had to type read something like this: ‘cd C:\syslinux-3.63\win32’, and after that: ‘syslinux.exe -ma E:’. But the keyboard was really freaking out on me. I just could not find the bloody ‘\’. And as you can see, I kind of needed that symbol quite a few times. And did you ever try to find a setting in XP where you can just change the keyboard layout? It drove me nuts and made me want to throw the bloody machine out of the window! And that after only thirty minutes! Aaahh… those good ol’ pre-Mac times of CRA (Computer Related Anxiety).

Anyway, my basic knowledge of DOS which I was forced to learn at school back in the early nineties was still present somewhere in my memory. Eventually I was able to create the bootloader and I was ready for the real work: hacking!

One USB stick with the bootloader in the left port, the Mac OS USB stick in the right. After changing the boot order to start up from the USB bootloader funny letters and numbers magically appeared on my screen. Now it was time to pay attention. Being faithful to my research I typed in ’81’ at a dedicated spot somewhere in the process and to my delight the uberfamous Apple logo filled the tiny 9″ LCD screen. It felt like coming home.

The rest was just the normal setup of Mac OS X. The only thing I still had to do was changing the EFI so that the Dell was actually booting from the Mac OS and voila. I was the owner of a real HackBook.

The final part of the transformation was applying the specially designed Apple logo over the Dell logo on the cover of the HackBook, and the removal of the cheapo sticker ‘Intel Inside’ and ‘Designed for Windows’ inside. Pathetic, but a neccesity if I ever wanted to be taken seriously among my few friends I still have.

It really is feline...

It really is feline...

Till now all seems to work. Sound, webcam, dimming the screen, wifi. Even the soft pulsing LED when the lid is closed. The battery lasts for about 3 hours which is reasonably good. As said, the keyboard is really tiny but I guess that’s the price one has to pay to be portable. The HackBook is really light which is most welcome when I’m traveling (the second main reason why I bought the Dell mini). I have installed only a few programs since I want to test to what extend the HackBook can be used for what it is designed for: the Cloud.

I will be traveling soon. Expect feedback on my findings using this device on our blog.

Digital Pharma Congress 2009- Socially Challenged Pharma


We all know Social Marketing is the Next Big Thing. Or at least, that’s what we are all saying to each other. Making each other believe that the era of the 4/5/6 P’s is finally over. And of course Big Pharma can not stay behind forever. In a relatively short period the content of pharma congresses has changed dramatically. Two years ago a typical pharma marketing congress dealt with eDetailing, brand management and CRM systems. Now it’s about communities, Twitter, authenticity and transparency. Finally.



It was the first attempt for EXL Pharma to enter the ‘Old World’ with their Digital Pharma congress. Already an established event in the States, they now found the time right to see whether the Europeans are like-minded in the exciting area of new/social/digital media in pharma. And it seems that they are not the only one, by the way. This year alone we have been contacted by two other congress organizations which are planning to enter this space as well. It’s an interesting area to be in right now, especially when you have a story to tell.

We just returned from Barcelona (raining for two days, bummer!) and we look back to -in our view- a succesful first event organized by EXL. Of course not all things were perfect, it usually isn’t – especially when you do it for the first time. But I have to admit that Jason Youner and Bryan Main did a good job in pulling this thing off. Kudos go to them.

Now, let’s dive a bit into the program. I won’t cover all presentations, only the ones which were truly remarkable for me. For the Twitter feed with all tweets during the conference I refer to the EXL website with the Cover It Live feed (or search Twitter with #digitalpharma)

Old skool
EXL’s Digital Pharma Europe was organized in Barcelona on March 30 and 31. See for the full program here. The morning of the first day was reserved for a workshop entitled ‘Successfully integrating Digital Media into the Overall Marketing Mix’. Sam Trujillo, Director of Marketing Women’s Health explained in a three hour session the view of Bayer Schering on the way to engage with digital media in the marketing mix. Apart from the fact that a workshop usually involves ‘working’ and we didn’t do more than just listening, I did not find his story appealing and at it’s place at this event. His story was mainly focussing on digital media (fair enough) but it looked like the process he was presenting very much described the traditional approach of pharma companies using media: to stay in control. Seriously, I just do not think that putting your commercials on YouTube will generate a lot of traffic towards your channels. Who on earth is going to watch voluntarely a commercial of a pharma company, including the usual fair balance BS? It’s just not the channel for that.

The rest of the day was reserved for more Social Media stuff. So did Jeff Hithcock from ‘Children With Diabetes‘ (CWD) a touching presentation on his social network for parents and children with diabetes. Once started as a virtual space he created for his daughter suffering from diabetes, now a huge online community for thousands of diabetes children. Recently J&J acquired CWD. It’s not clear to me however what’s in it for J&J.

Pharma going social
Another great presentation was from Heidi Youngkin, Executive Director Global Marketing at J&J. She held an informative and engaging talk on her ‘Social Media Adventures’ within J&J. Intruiging to see that a pharma company is already that advanced. No doubt the fact that J&J is a huge company with a lot of FMCG might help, but still. I’m sure that her guidelines will be used as a ‘golden standard’ and reference frame within more pharma companies (I saw a lot of people making notes, since her presentation was not available online). Interestingly J&J started slowly with a blog about the history of the company (nice and safe). After they gained sufficient experience with this new medium they introduced a blog more specifically targeted towards their end users and dealing with more complex subjects. Now they have entered the third stage, going beyond blogs such as participating in the beforementioned community CWD. During the rest of the  conference J&J was quoted and cited as ‘Best Practices’ on several occassions.

The first day finished by a lively panel discussion moderated by Len Starnes, Head of Digital Marketing & Sales General Medicine at Bayer Schering. The panel discussion covered the paradigm shift of web 2.0 in the pharma world. Or should we say how pharma lives in the past not using (some of) these technologies. Interestingly it turned out that the FDA was present as well. Silently sitting in the back of the room, observing how Big Pharma is struggling with this paradigm shift. It sure is a pitty they (or anybody else for that matter) didn’t take the opportunity to start the conversation. And where were the European authorities?

Doctors and communities
Len must have done a great deal with EXL 😉 because the next day he kicked-off the second day of the event with his presentation entitled ‘Healthcare Professionals’ Social Networks – The Beginning of the End of Pharma Marketing As We Know It’. We’ve met Len at several other congresses and it’s always good to listen to his vision on digital marketing within Big Pharma. This time he gave a sound overview of all possible social networks available for the HCP (Health Care Professional). Although a few big players (Sermo and MedScape) there is still room for niche players like Ozmosis for example. And what about Europe? Well, it seems that and DocCheck Faces are the biggest players on our continent but they will soon face competition by the Powerhouse Sermo which intends to introduce here in the not so distant future. Main question of course is how Big Pharma can participate in these communities. Sermo has a partnership with Pfizer, so is this the way to go? Len was firm in his statement that the pharma industry should observe, research, engage and discuss, but under no circumstances should hard sell. He also did a small poll on LinkedIn which showed that 86% of his network believes that Social Networks will have an impact on pharma marketing within the near future.

Enterprise 2.0 and innovation in Pharma

My presentation was next, talking about the internal use of Social Media in the light of innovation in marketing services. I am always surprised to see that an entire industry just jumps on the bandwagon of using social media for external use and just forgets that they first have to deal with yet another -equally important- community: their employees. Why is it that I can’t find more about my colleagues in Outlook’s address book other than their name, telephone number and office number whereas when I check on Facebook and LinkedIn I can find half of their life? Why is it that even a New Media Specialist is blocked access to YouTube at the office because she ‘might watch YouTube videos all day long’? Get seriouss, executives. Wake up in a new world and embrace yourself for the entrance of the digital natives, people who are actually used to share information with each other (and are hence not afraid to lose their ‘power’ when they do). Or read this for a change. We want to create a common platform within our organization where employees can find our internal blog, wikis, podcasts and share ideas. And if that means that we have to pull-in some people screamin’ and kickin’, so it is. Change is never without some pain.





YouTube genius
Yet another great presentation was from Kevin Nalty, Marketing Director Dermatology at a large pharma company which name could not be revealed but starts with an ‘M’ and ends with ‘erck’. Besides his serious job he moonlights as an official YouTube Comedian. His website Willvideoforfood is described as ‘a blog for online video, advertising, viral marketing, consumer generated media and blatant self-promotion’. Don’t know if he really needs a site doing all this since he’s one of the top-10 most viewed YouTube comedians with more than 750 videos seen in excess of 60 million times. He even wrote an e-book ‘How To Become Popular On YouTube Without Any Talent’. Well, I don’t have to explain you that we 100% agree with his vision about the power of video in communication. What we do differ in opinion is that although content is still king, form is becoming more and more important. By that I mean that the basic elements of filming should be carried out well (e.g. sound, lightning, basic rules of camera movement). That doesn’t mean that I think one should make a slick commercial. Please don’t. Some ‘rough edges’ gives it most of the time a bit more genuine look. But I will skip videos where the sound quality is poor, even if they have a nice story to tell.

Now, online video is exploding: Pharma, wake up and start using it!

The last presentation was an overview of the possibilities Google has to offer big Pharma. Interesting in that respect is, a CSR initiative of Google helping the community with their innovative concepts.

A quick wrap up ended the Digital Pharma Congress in Barcelona. Main take home messages of the audience (well, from people who actually dared to shout it out loud):


That last point was not put in by me, but most probably due to me…

The future
I think it was a good start for such an event. I hope that for next congresses dealing with this subjects participation of European authorities is paramount since they are the gatekeepers of communication possibilities within our industry. Compared to the US Europe is different in that respect, also because we (still) have many different local authorities which can play and are playing according to their rules. The market is changing, people are getting more informed. The question is which information they use in order to get informed, and to what respect the quality of information is improved if Pharma can participate in the discussion. Pharma on the other hand should take it’s responsibility too, by being open and transparent about their products and claims. Pharma is low on the trust-scale, time to open up and fix that. Looking to the people in the audience I have the feeling that Pharma is ready for it. Now authorities, give them the opportunity to do so.

Stay tuned, soon I will post my presentation including the video online.

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