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Developing customer process orientation: the case of Pharma Corp.

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Purpose ‐ The pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. For example, institutional regulations that have been in place for decades are being removed and competitive pressures force pharmaceutical companies to adopt customer-oriented strategies. Information technology (IT) is a traditional enabler in this industry for the interaction with suppliers, wholesalers and pharmacies. This paper shows that internet portals yield new opportunities in accessing key customer segments, such as physicians and patients. The central message is that shaping these customer-oriented systematic methodologies is merely a technological undertaking. Changes are required regarding strategy, processes as well as the systems architecture. To develop an integrated customer relationship management strategy this research draws on elements from established business redesign. The emphasis is on portals that bundle services for the patient's and physician's customer processes. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper pursues an action research approach where researchers have been involved in project work. The overall architecture framework has been generalized from projects with nine international companies between 2000 and 2002. One of these companies, the case of Pharma Corp., one of the largest pharma companies worldwide, is detailed in this paper. It shows how the three main architecture views strategy, process and system are used for the development of a customer-oriented portal strategy. Findings ‐ Portals that support business processes have implications on the technical and business architecture alike. Existing architectures have an emphasis on individual architecture views, but rarely cover the "whole picture". This paper argues that alignment is necessary of at least three architectures: the business architecture positions, the portal regarding the target customer segments and the (electronic) intermediaries. The process architecture identifies customer processes for each segment and derives portal services, which may also be sourced from external service providers. Thus, their configuration requires the alignment of all levels which are usually specified separately. Originality/value ‐ The architecture framework presents a first step towards a systematic methodology for re-engineering customer relationships. It may support the project work in companies and stimulate future research towards inter-organizational business process redesign.
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Keywords: Architecture; Business process re-engineering; Customer orientation; Pharmaceuticals industry; Portals

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2005

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