DPE 2023 wrapped up Thursday, after four days of panels, discussions and networking. 

This year, speakers delved into everything from AI to patient experience, and touched on some of the biggest new trends that marketers can expect to see in the coming months.

As in years past, omnichannel has staying power. 

In a panel Tuesday afternoon, Pfizer’s digital transformation lead for I&I Franchise, Michael Rowbotham, joined Novartis’ marketing strategy lead for breast cancer Rui Yang and AstraZeneca’s senior director of customer experience and enterprise digital capabilities Michael Sivak to delve into omnichannel – and why marketers still haven’t seemed to figure it out.

When asked about how to define omnichannel – which sometimes seems to be a vague, confusing and complicated buzzword – Rowbotham noted it was a “sad question.”

“We’re here several years into the omnichannel experience and we’re still having to define what omnichannel is,” he said. “A bunch of us are having conversations, and still not understanding what it is.”

Sivak argued that the definition of omnichannel is to have a seamless customer experience, and for Yang, having “one voice” across all silos is essential for omnichannel.

However, getting there is a different story. There was a consensus that operating in silos, all directed separately at the customer, can result in confusion. 

Instead of starting with the customer and then backing into separate teams, it’s important to prioritize a structure that fosters a unified approach right at the gate.

Rowbotham likened it to a musician playing in an orchestra.

“Musicians have a responsibility to learn their instrument, practice, and also realize you’re working in an orchestra,” he said. “There are few marketers who know all the different roles. We see too many examples of a bunch of data being over here and nobody is plugging it into the data lake.”

The main takeaway came from Silva, who said he turned 1,500 slides about omnichannel into three when he took on his role at AstraZeneca.

“Simplify, simplify, simplify,” he pressed. “Don’t overcomplicate omnichannel. Rather than trying to go at it the way the organization had been going at it, we had to drastically simplify.”

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