Empowering Sales Effectiveness In Pharmaceutical Companies Through Digital Learning

As per Statista, the global R&D spend in the pharmaceutical industry is expected to cross 200 billion dollars by 2024. This growth projection implies that many new products will be developed in this time frame and that is why many companies are investing significantly in digital salesforce training to effectively engage with customers.

Gone are the days where sales team boasted about their product features and deals happened. The traditional approach to pharmaceutical sales doesn’t work today. With the information explosion all around, customers know much more than before and are buying in new ways.  The growth in digitization and associated mobile technologies has led to customers preferring interactive engagement that brings forward information gaps and innovative solutions for the medical practitioners. Digital learning might not be a new concept for sales training in this sector, but the real challenge is to make it effective and figure out innovative ways to train these new age sales representatives.

Let’s look at some digital learning features that we need to consider to increase sales effectiveness in this field:

  1. Quick and easy updatable digital courses

Considering the dynamic nature of this industry and the constantly changing policies, FDA regulations and new product launches, the need of the hour is to select ‘future-ready’ digital courses which can be updated quickly and easily.

  1. Responsive, Byte-sized modules

Sales reps by no means are confined to their office desk all day, so digital learning needs to be made available wherever they are. Byte sized micro-learning nuggets are another interesting way to cater to any just-in-time learning requirements, like as ready reckoners before meeting a client or  for quick reinforcement on the go.

  1. The right mode of training for your needs

While many pharmaceutical companies have started implementing advanced techniques like artificial intelligence, chat-bots, augmented and virtual reality in their product demonstrations and training other functions, but ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. Some companies may still do better with video-based learning while for some gamified learning can bring out the best of competitiveness from their sales representatives. Some may still stick to the classic eBook for effective product training while some are inclined towards scenario based training. Choosing the correct mode for your organizational needs or the right blend of multiple modes is of utmost importance to yield better results.

Effective sales training has direct impact on the bottom-line so it is important to empower sales representatives with perfect training techniques to give them a taste of “what good looks like”. It’s a win-win scenario in which the organization attains higher revenue and also builds employee loyalty.

Have you tried digitizing your sales training programs? What has been your experience? Feel free to share your comments below, or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com to share your thoughts.

An Instructional Designer’s Experience with Automation Testing

Harbinger organizes an annual event called Automathon. This event primarily focuses on automation testing, wherein participants write test scripts on given scenarios. Although I am an instructional designer by profession, I decided to participate in this event, owing to my personal interest in the testing function.

The Automathon primarily focuses on testing through an automated framework called Harbinger’s Integrated Hybrid Automation Framework (HIHAF). While dedicated professionals can undoubtedly do a great job at testing various scenarios, it is ideal that some part of the process is automated, to achieve massive turnovers. HIHAF is a great example of it. The framework requires quality engineers to write test scripts and it executes those scripts. So, although I knew I had a tool which could do half the job, the other half was to be done by me. I already had a sneak peek into writing test scripts; but what came as a big learning was manipulating the application to work with those scripts. When writing test scripts, you need to know why and how the application functions under certain conditions.

Before I participated in this event, I always felt that writing test scripts doesn’t require a great deal of programming knowledge. But what I did not realize was that one still needs to fathom well with the objects used in the software and their behavior. It requires understanding the processes and the environment surrounding these processes.

Apart from how I dealt with the writing of scripts, there were a lot of other takeaways for me from this event. I realized that it was just a beginning into the world of automation testing for me and I had a long way to go. I got to meet many people who have been doing really well in this area. It made me think of how frameworks like HIHAF could be beneficial to a wide range of industries. I found myself celebrating new ideas.

It left me with a lurking question, why don’t we embrace good things and ideas from other industries and functions upon whom we thrive, while working in our respective roles. What do you think?

Catering Industry – Growing by Leaps and Bounds, and Sustaining Beyond

Catering industry in the United States has grown at an exponential rate in the last decade. In 2017, catering accounted for 11% of the foodservice industry sales with revenue of $12 bn. Caterers have introduced newer menu items and are providing a wider range of services than before to meet the increasing client expectations. Households and businesses are hosting more catered events, and as per projections, the catering industry will continue to flourish at a rate of 5-6% through 2019, as compared to a much lower, 1.8% growth rate from 2013-2018.  Many big restaurant brands have also started exploring catering as a revenue generation option.

So, what is factoring this tremendous growth? Here is what I think:

  1. Increasing Reach of Technology – For the first time in the history of food service, the power of ordering is literally in the hands of consumers.  This acts as a direct link between consumers and operations and speeds up the entire transaction cycle. Mobile technology has made it easier for customers to reach out to caterers through a couple of clicks.
  1. Healthy Consumer Spending – Statistics show that the average catering order value has increased by 65% in the last one year. This considerable growth has been aided by increased consumer spending and corporate profits. More and more households and businesses are expected to host catered events and opt for contractual meals for parties, weddings luncheons, schools, hospitals, and trade shows. Caterers relieve them of the worry of running the meal program, and they are free to focus on their core event or program.
  1. Rise in Catering Avenues- Catering avenues have diversified significantly over the past couple of years. Apart from the traditional event catering, newer forms of catering like mobile catering, boxed lunch catering for businesses, airline and rail catering are on a rise. Full-service catering companies that provide room decorations, lighting and table settings, along with food, are being sought by many consumers. With so many channels available for catering, it is only natural that the industry is growing significantly and will continue to do so.
  1. Better Packaging – Improved packaging technology like temperature control containers make sure that the food you receive as a boxed meal, or consume at an event, tastes and looks as good as at a restaurant and does not spoil. This is a lucrative proposition for consumers who want their guests or customers to enjoy fresh and good quality food without worrying about cooking or maintaining it.

The exceptional growth in the catering industry is commendable. It has paved the way for new job roles, processes and responsibilities.  It is crucial that you set the right standard for all stakeholders involved including third-party delivery partners, to support the growth in your consumer base and services. This requires training your employees and partners on the ins and outs of your brand, how you want your food to be packaged, how you want it to be delivered, etc.

I shall expand more on the role of training in catering leadership development in my next blog. Stay tuned, and feel free to share your thoughts below.

Five signs that indicate the need for a modernization initiative

Five Signs That Indicate ‘It is Time to Consider Modernization’

The modern day corporate worker’s profile is changing. Not just millennial, Gen Z seems to be getting into the workforce as well. These segments of the target audience have a very positive outlook on the value of eLearning but the way they want to consume content is very different from how it happened in the past.

If you too are sensing this profile shift, then probably it is time to take a stock of the situation and look for some additional signs listed ahead.

  1. Need for Standardized Content

Your content is the most valuable asset your company has. If you have a large volume of legacy content sitting idle, or if your employees or customers are facing issues in courses because of the content being stuck in old formats, then it definitely indicates the need for change. Furthermore, if you can’t make important edits to your courses because the content is in legacy format or created using different tools, then you know modernization is the right way to proceed. It will help you to upgrade your content in accordance with the latest tools and technologies. Modernization can also help you convert your content to one standardized format which is widely accessible and future-ready – for instance, a format like HTML5, which standardizes everything and in-turn brings efficiencies for future.

 

  1. New Tool Adoption

An organization, when it uses a tool for a long period of time, develops a significant level of comfort with it, and it becomes difficult to get out of that zone. But with the rapid advancements in technology, many new tools evolve into the market. These tools generally possess better capabilities than the one(s) already being used. For example, there are several tools in the market that allow creation of content in interactive video format instead of tools using simple text and images. When you use such a tool, the learning experience can change for good.

 

So if you, as the content owner, come across many such new technologies and tools but cannot take the plunge due to comfort issues, it is time to consider modernization. Modernization can smoothly facilitate new tool adoption process.

 

  1. Learning in Employee Preferred Formats

An infographic by ‘Bersin by Delloite’ states that 67% of the modern day workers learn on mobile devices, only 42% learn at their office desk, rest access learning at their convenience, interestingly 27% of people learn on the way to and from work. Apart from the statistics and preferences listed above, each of these learners has different learning styles. Meeting these expectations through different learning formats is quite difficult as that would imply much more content production. Then how do we handle this situation? Modernization practice can help put together a solution which can use artificial intelligence, natural language processing and voice-enabled technologies to make the same content available in various formats.

  1. Complying with Regulations and Industry Standards

With the recent enforcement of new regulations that demand support for accessibility and standards-compliance, accessible content is now a must-have. If you are looking at re-using any of your non WCAG 2.0 compliant legacy courses, you need to modernize them. But just taking an old course and trying to make it compliant is not sufficient. It may technically get some of the compliance checkboxes ticked, but it doesn’t ensure 100% accessibility. For instance, your compliance checklist might not take care of font readability and color choices. Unless you are confident that someone with special abilities can fully make use of your content, it is just a battle half won.

 

To ensure that differently-abled learners find value in your courses, it is important to redesign them. A well thought out modernization approach that aims at making your legacy content fully accessible by making use of automation, is your best bet here.

 

  1. Accelerated Time-to-Market with New Product Offerings and Upgrades

If you are looking to do something new for your customers with a faster time-to-market, there are two things you could consider – launch newer products or take old products and refurbish them with newer design and experience. At the speed with which technology is changing, it is critical that your product (course) design is resilient yet flexible. A well-defined modernization approach helps you achieve the same. And when coupled with automation, it can help you roll out newer courses or newer versions of old courses out in the market rapidly. This helps strengthen your course catalog portfolio.

If you are reading any of the above signs, then the time is just right to contemplate a modernization initiative to cater to your organization’s and customers’ evolving learning needs. In case you would like to have a discussion on this, or if you are looking for an experienced and reliable partner who can help design your modernization roadmap, write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com.

Building Simulations in eLearning – Articulate Storyline Versus Adobe Captivate

The primary objective of delivering corporate learning is to develop skills that could be applied to the actual course of work in an organization. These skills could be best developed by ‘doing’ and ‘practicing’. Learning programs that let your employees’ practice a real life situation would help retain knowledge well and apply it effectively when the actual situation arises.  Simulation based training is a great way to do the same. Simulations let you re-create real life/workplace situations, and let employees sail through them without any potential threats.

Harbinger has been building simulation based training for many years now. We have serviced our customers with simulated information technology training, product training, business process, and customer service training. Multiple tools and technologies have been used to build these simulations. And if we come to shortlisting our favorites, Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate top the list. Both the tools are extremely user friendly and effective for building simulations. However, even between the two, each has its own set of strengths and limitations. If you are planning to develop simulation-based training, do have a look at the below comparison list and then make an informed choice.

Articulate Storyline Adobe Captivate
Storyline provides simulation capturing facility, however it creates the captured output in a video format. If client requirements change after capturing, it is difficult to do custom edits in the video. Captivate is ideal for capturing simulation screens. In an ideal scenario, you could also capture the single screenshot and integrate it in existing recording.
Storyline gives readymade triggers and multiple numbers of attempts for Try Me. But it does not give any readymade animations for Show Me. Captivate gives readymade triggers and multiple numbers of attempts for Try Me as well as Show Me.
Storyline creates a video at the base which is not editable and if we need to edit any screen in simulation or background then we need to rerecord entire video/session all over again. For Captivate it is easier to replace individual slide(s) and minimal textual edits can also be done easily.
Storyline does not allow a theme to be applied at the onset.

In storyline, we need to set properties of captions, highlights, and text on every slide.

In Captivate, we can set the theme for the project and the template for recording.

It is a one-time effort to set the style and process.

Storyline provides extensive controls in the GUI.

We can hide navigation elements and can also change the navigational element settings at slide level.

We can set linear/non-linear course navigation in Storyline. Also, we can get separate scrubber (seek bar) for each slide.

 

 

Captivate has minimal controls in the GUI.

We cannot hide navigation elements nor change the navigational element settings at slide level.

We can set linear/ non-linear course navigation in Captivate. To achieve this functionality, we need to customize the controls at the slide level.

But we cannot have separate scrubber for each slide. It is only applicable to the whole course.

Duplicating buttons and state-changes for objects is much easier with Storyline. Duplicating buttons is difficult when compared to Storyline.
Triggering functionality is much easier to implement in Storyline 2, as object names keep intact when you copy a slide in Storyline. Triggering functionality is not very strong in Captivate. When we duplicate the slide, we need to change every trigger in Captivate as objects lose their names.

Clearly, Captivate has an edge when it comes to building simulations. It is time-effective and requires lesser development efforts compared to Storyline. But the most optimum approach would be to create simulations in Captivate and then compile them in Storyline as a web object. However, this approach works only if your course is non-linear.

Hope the above comparison was comprehensive enough for you to make your choice. For any queries, reach out to us at info@harbingerlearning.com, or write a comment below.

 

This blog has been authored by Vijay Shete; with inputs from Shilpa Shindgikar and Vrunda Kollur.