Novartis Appoints New Chief Digital & Marketing Officer

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Another Big Pharma company has dug into the retail ranks to find someone to take over the chief digital officer role for the company. On Thursday, Novartis (NVS) reported that it has brought on board Bertrand Bodson, currently chief digital and marketing officer for Argos. This hire comes at the tail end of GlaxoSmithKline announcing it had hired former Walmart executive for their top IT position.

Bodson, who begins Jan. 1 and will report to Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez, is taking on a new role at the company, chief digital officer. His role is to help the drugmaker optimize data, from R&D through interactions with doctors and patients, and help make the company’s business operations more efficient.

“Bertrand has a proven track record of creating and implementing successful digital strategies across global companies, and leading cultural change in order to make this happen at scale,” Jimenez stated. “This is not just about digital helping the business. Bertrand will help us transform our business model using digital technologies.”

The Belgian native and Harvard MBA graduate comes with experience in digital marketing, having co-founded Bragster, a video-sharing website where users dare each other to perform stunts or tasks. Guinness World Records acquired it in 2010. Bodson started his career in 1998 at Boston Consulting Group and has held positions at Amazon and EMI Music.

With things like cell phones, social media networking, and big data creating “digital disruptions” in a variety of big industries, Big Pharma is attempting to catch retailing and other industries with huge potential. Companies are starting to do more with digital marketing in clinical trials and creating mobile apps for tracking the number of different health conditions.

Vivinda TV, a virtual conference platform that delivers on-demand medical content for healthcare providers, Novartis is already implementing some new digital technologies.

Newer biotech companies have the ability to inherit digital skills, but the big players are searching for experts to help them put it into play quickly and effectively.

In July, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley, who comes from a consumer health background appointed former Walmart Stores executive Karenann Terrell to the new senior position of chief digital and technology officer to help the company collect data and digital to drive forward. Terrell, who left Walmart in March, has also worked previously at Baxter International and DaimlerChrysler.

Just like other drugmakers, GSK is testing with new digital methods. It recently worked out a deal with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba to drive vaccinations in China.

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