Last week I introduced inVentiv, an innovative company that provides outsourced sales forces and marketing services to healthcare companies. As most of the outthinkers we’ve profiled, inVentiv understands that power comes from coordination. It has strategically acquired new firms to fill in gaps in its offerings.
Today the company encompasses a collection of distinct agencies, each with a unique capability. They can conduct pharmaceutical R&D, they can build new product launches, they can turn-on a sales force. inVentiv has a company that can help clients across almost every step in the chain.
While having all the pieces in place means inVentiv can hold onto a greater share of the business, this by itself generates no strategic advantage. The magic happens when inVentiv starts coordinating its parts.
inVentiv makes this strategy an explicit priority and clearly states in its 10-K from February 2010, “We are also engaged in a continuous process of expanding and refining our service offerings, and pursuing cross-servicing opportunities within and across our business segments, in order to respond more flexibly to the market and address broader revenue opportunities with existing and new clients.”
During my interview with Blane Walter, inVentiv’s CEO, I learn how the company started keeping track of integrated wins. By following the number of projects in which clients purchase two or more services, inVentiv’s services started to coordinate themselves. This shifted the mentality of inVentiv’s individual parts. It encouraged its leaders to start thinking about the whole. And that can lead to magic.
For example, inVentiv has become one of the leading providers of “patient compliance solutions,” programs that help companies ensure that patients stay on their medication regimen. Another business unit works with pharmacy partners and has access to pharmacy prescription data. So the company’s management wondered, as Walter said, “Could we take this communication platform and use it to connect with large numbers of patients?”
By putting together information about prescriptions with its platform for communicating with customers, inVentiv is able to notice when patients are falling off their regimen and then communicated directly to them to encourage them to get back on. This fixes a major problem for patients, doctors, and drug companies.
It also provides a great example of ethonomics. As Walter said, “Thirty percent of on chronic therapy patients fall off their treatment.” By helping people stay on their medicine regimen, inVentiv reduces costs for its clients while providing extra protection for patients.
Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” The way new things come into the world by combining old things together for the first time. As inVentiv conducts more exercises looking for creative ways to combine its businesses we can expect to see unexpected new services emerge. As long as its competitors are playing with a narrower breadth of services, they will not be able to match inVentiv’s innovative potential.
Ask yourself the questions below to see how you can use this time-tested strategy of coordination to provide an innovative new service, product or process.
1. Is there any overlap between parts of my business?
2. Can we coordinate these parts to create something new?
3. Can we coordinate these parts to reduce waste?
4. Is there a service or product that our clients have asked for? Is there a way to combine parts of the business to offer this new innovation?