In the upcoming months as we prepare for JUMP in New York in November, we will be interviewing some of our speakers to highlight a little bit about them, what they are working on and a few thoughts on the topic they will be focusing on at JUMP.

First up in our interview series is Jim Lefevere, Roche’s Director of Global Digital Marketing. He heads up the digital strategy, marketing and operations for one of Roche’s business areas.

What does your day-to-day job at Roche entail?

I spend a good amount of time balancing strategy and plan development for emerging digital activities that can move our business ahead with actual implementation. I don’t think you can fully be successful with digital unless you have an eye for the big picture while still understanding the details.

What do you think are the main challenges for pharmaceutical brands in the digital space? How can we overcome these?

There are many challenges, but primarily I think it’s overcoming the paralysis that has set in regarding the lack of definition around adverse event reporting in digital channels and FDA guidance. This challenge is coupled with the need for some aggressive change management initiatives. The industry as a whole is still very nascent when it comes to digital.

On a macro level, there are factors that will force this change such as the recent health reform ruling, which I think impacts the need for greater technology and media offerings, the push to solutions beyond the pill or device and the constant need for differentiation.

How is a data-driven approach going to drive digital change? Should we focus on more than the numbers and why?

Again, I think digital and using a fact based, data-driven approach for marketing is still evolving. I’ve found that it’s tough to argue against facts. Data helps in developing plans and it helps prove the case that digital is the most efficient and effective way to market.

Data also allows you to put the right message in front of the right customer at the right time. From demographic profiling to mapping customer behavior, the data we have now allows you to allocate media funds and develop proper attribution.

At JUMP, you’ll be speaking about using data to drive digital change in life sciences. What customer touch points should be driving life sciences organizations?

I think there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points out the fact that people are online and go online for health and disease information. Of course I think that you need to have a blend between traditional and digital activities but that blend is increasingly moving towards digital as the primary and best channel.

What strategies have you implemented to lead the global transition in your company from traditional marketing to digital?

It’s on ongoing shift, right now we’re focused on training (with the help of eConsultancy) to provide base of knowledge for the organization; and shifting the thinking and planning for how to approach media mix planning in each market.

Any great examples of other companies doing it right?

Doing it “right” is relative and hard to gauge because it moves so fast and every year is different. The goal is to continue to push, evolve and never become complacent.

How can you get buy in from senior management to make these changes?

Right now I’d say use data.

As you are the global marketing director at Roche, what tips would you give to other marketers embarking on international marketing campaigns across multiple geographies?

I think being proactive and aligning new strategies and plans with stakeholders up front is half the task. Make sure people have a say and are bought in. Then I recommend applying the 80/20 rule and maintain 80% common strategies across the organisation and give 20% to allow for some flexibility to localize in each market you’re in.