We live in an increasingly digital world and, as consequence, the competition between organisations to recruit the best digital talent has never been more intense. Nowhere is this appetite for digital talent currently greater than in pharma and the wider medical products arena as there is widespread recognition that there is some catching up to do.

While there is an appreciation of the importance of attracting digital specialists, the biggest issue continues to be demand outstripping supply.

Faced with this challenge, the smartest businesses are actively planning ahead, putting in place a robust strategy to enable them to hire the best digital talent when they require it – whether that is now or in the medium to longer term.

The required digital talent takes many different forms, ranging from strategists and leaders, who have the capability to drive digital transformation in an organisation, through to highly skilled technical experts.

Key considerations when looking to acquire digital talent, not just in pharma but in any sector, include:

Building a Team

  • Organisations that are strong on digital bring together all routes to customers / patients
  • The strongest digital talent know how to look after the channels, not the technology
  • Cross-sector candidates will enable you to harness learnings from industries which are currently ahead in terms of their digital transformation
  • Digital leaders need to have the strategic vision but also require the experience of driving this by implementing the required processes
  • Transformational change experience is essential given that most pharma organisations are at the beginning of their digital journey

Buying a Team

  • To grow the numbers to drive the digital build-out, creativity is required. Organisations need to think outside of the box and look outside of sector
  • This might include acquiring a digital agency to give expertise and strength in numbers
  • The biggest challenge of looking out of sector and acquiring agencies or agency teams is often cultural and requires careful on-boarding and integration to ensure success

Organisational Design and Culture

  • Ahead of embarking on a digital journey, thought needs to be given to where ‘digital leadership’ will sit in an organisation
  • Digital strategy needs to be championed from the top of an organisation and is ideally represented on the board
  • Divisional and functional digital heads need to be aligned and empowered to be recognised as strategic leaders, preferably with a direct link to the Chief Digital Officer
  • Consideration needs to be given to culture, creating an environment that appeals to the digital talent an organisation is seeking to attract while, at the same time, representing the company’s specific cultural values

Finding digital talent

  • While digital talent is generally visible and easy to identify, there are many nuances to digital talent between sectors, aligned functions, role content and level of experience required
  • Many new digital roles have been created, often differing significantly in title and content
  • Digital talent is in massive demand and individuals are frequently approached for new positions – making a tailored, compelling and intriguing approach all the more essential
  • Technical digital experts often have multi-channel profiles – analysing where they are most active, e.g. code repositories rather than Linked In is critical in understanding the most effective route to engagement.
  • Digital is often used as a bit of a ‘buzzword’ to design a more attractive profile which means a careful assessment of a candidate’s experience is vital to ensure the right fit

To find out more about how best to meet the challenges of the Digital Age, read an article by Mark Hodson in the first ever edition of the newly published AC Review. Mark is Armstrong Craven’s Head of Knowledge and Information Services. The AC Review can be viewed here