We've been talking to our Pharmaceutical & Healthcare customers at Xyleme, and they all agree that personalized, proprietary learning at scale is their next step to gain speed to market for new products and geographies, as well as a necessity to remain a competitive leader in today's tight labor market.
So what's the catch? It's not that they don't agree on the importance of getting there—it's just that they don't know where to start.
With different contributing factors including incumbent technology investments, recent loss of headcount, promises made in DE&I initiatives, expansive geographical coverage and rising employee expectations, the path is not quite so clear.
We sat down with Xyleme’s own Katie Wilson, Area VP of Sales and resident Healthcare Tech Expert, to talk about how the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare industries can think about the best way to utilize their current tech investments while fostering a leading culture of learning in an efficient, and scalable way.
1. What brought about the need to focus on proprietary learning content in the industry?
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies are growing in a number of ways, most notably in acquisition, geographic expansion, or new product releases. Speed to delivery for learning content has become increasingly important as the industry has adjusted to rapid changes.
The recent pandemic, and the need for accurate, current and compliant information exposed gaps in many Pharma and Healthcare learning ecosystems. Many organizations struggled to get the information they needed at the pace and speed they needed it. They were able to get the job done but the content quality was not sustainable. Now that CLO’s and content leaders have had a chance to breathe, they are re-evaluating these processes.
In addition to economic and market conditions, as well as tech gaps, digital experience expectations have trickled down to the learning space—people want to learn quickly on their desired device in bite-size chunks that can be easily searched for later when they need it.
Which is why we see so many Healthcare & Pharmaceutical companies are actually taking the creation of proprietary learning content in house at a time when resources are thin which brings on a host of challenges around both technology & staffing.
2. What does a strong healthcare learning ecosystem look like?
I recently heard a CLO explain it to me this way: “I was looking to create workflows fit for purpose.” To him, this meant being more intentional and proactive in organizing the flow of learning content from inception to delivery.
With the continuous push for e-learning and microlearning, most Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies have invested in technology infrastructure within the last 5 years, usually in a best of class LMS, LXP, or both. While these tech infrastructures are often necessary endpoints in a learning ecosystem, the phrase I hear most often is: “it’s simply not enough.”
With the hopes that additional technology infrastructure would solve this problem, many of my customers came to the realization that content quality was the crux of this issue. This made them quickly realize that the investments they made in the appropriate infrastructure for their organization wasn’t enough to fuel their ecosystem with high quality, searchable, accessible content.
3. What are some of the barriers your customers run into when creating this ecosystem?
The biggest barrier I hear, from almost everyone, is regulatory compliance.
In a nutshell, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies know they deal with very specific, detailed, highly regulated information that could mean the difference between life and death. Unlike other industries, such as retail or for example, Pharma and Healthcare organizations often need to change critical and life-saving information quickly to reflect product, safety, or policy changes. They may require the ability to quickly roll back a piece of content to a previous version or also need to quickly change branding in the instance of acquisition. Most importantly, they need an audit trail of who touched a piece of content, when it was modified, and where it lives now within a vast sea of content within their organization.
Full stop — they have a responsibility to protect both their customers, members and employees from receiving incorrect, outdated or non-compliant information.
4. Can you talk about the advantages of a centralized learning governance?
I don’t think we can talk about the importance of centralized learning content without talking about scale. Smaller organizations or individual departments have been able to get away with using Sharepoint, Powerpoint, or any of the other common WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) authoring, editing and sharing tools. Adding additional content and deliverables to the mix on top of regulation requirements is not scalable in this environment, without adding more staff and manual effort, which introduces the risk of human error and what we call the content explosion.
That’s why we’ve seen many Healthcare & Pharma organizations within the last few years, creating internal content governance initiatives and procedures. Their overall goal is to serve the needs of these unique, individual groups, while enabling them to scale efficiently in a compliant way. This includes creating content templates to both facilitate unified branding and speed time to value on their learning content.
5. What challenges do teams run into when trying to implement centralized learning content governance?
There are two major challenges that I see — where to start and adopting change. I hear questions like: Do we start by cleaning up our existing content? Do we staff a centralized team of people to manage content? How do we connect with and leverage existing technologies?
I wish I had a blanket answer for this one, but I don’t think anyone really does. This is not an all or nothing approach, or something that follows a linear path. Every Pharmaceutical and Healthcare customer of mine has a unique ecosystem of both people and technology. To me, the whole point of any learning initiative is to provide the people within and sometimes outside of your organization the tools they need to develop into better versions of themselves, to transfer knowledge, to develop and grow.
We often hear from content teams that are concerned that a solution like Xyleme will take away their creative & artistic freedom through the use of templates & content componentization. It is not our intention to automate or replace their creativity — our goal is to help them spend more of their time doing what they do well, and less time on administrative tasks.
6. What is the importance of offering a clear line of sight to internal mobility and cross functionality accessible to more groups?
Many of my customers have committed considerable resources to talent attraction, retention and DE&I initiatives to meet the expectation of today’s workforce. Making good on the promises they’ve made is often a driver for learning content initiatives. This includes providing ample opportunity for internal mobility & cross functionality.
Just like how creating centralized content governance isn’t linear, neither are today’s career paths — people want choices based on the areas where they excel, and companies need to identify gaps at a macro level in order to understand where their training resources will benefit them the most.
A CLO of one of my pharmaceutical customers is taking this to an exciting place by rolling out a competency framework, where mobility will be based on skills assessments. This means building a skills taxonomy in order to determine which career paths and pieces of content are right for each employee.