GSK seeks to span digital divide with social/digital dragnet

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GlaxoSmithKline is souping up its social media monitoring with a digital strategy it says will create processes that are standard enough to streamline communications, but flexible enough to meet local requirements.

The company has hired digital agency Fabric Worldwide and IT and consulting firm Infosys to implement their Global Digital Platform. According to the partners, the strategy is one of agility: Infosys says the Global Digital Platform will “allow GSK to quickly build digital assets and listen to consumers across an array of digital platforms.” GSK noted that efficiency is part of the core business strategies the company identified in its 2011 annual report. Meanwhile, WPP techie shop Fabric Worldwide says the partnership will help GSK “consistently understand consumer signals from digital channels, across all brands and all markets.”

However, marketers say it is an attempt at something else: to break out of the industry's traditional isolation.

“GSK's decision of taking a more holistic, global, and strategic view of digital is extremely smart and, in my opinion, will yield them a terrific edge in the marketplace,” Fabio Gratton, founder and chief experience officer of Ignite Health told MM&M.
 
Jim Dayton, senior director of  emerging media at the digital marketing agency Intouch Solutions, said he applauds GSK for having the “foresight to have integrated marketing systems that include social monitoring and engagement tools.”

The industry has struggled with balancing the desire to engage consumers without tripping over sketchily-defined regulatory boundaries, but companies can scarcely afford to shun social media altogether.

Gratton added that the move reinforces that digital isn't about marketing, but about business as a whole, and that the GSK venture deserves credit, regardless of the results.

“Even if they fail, they will be failing forward sooner and faster than anyone else, and that itself is a competitive advantage,” he added.
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