As pharma companies embrace iPad as a detailing and sales tracking tool in droves, the obvious next step would be to utilize the platform to deliver training content and actionable insights to positively impact performance. There are a couple of approaches to how pharma companies are addressing training delivery through iPad.
The most popular model (based on my experience) seems to be “let’s port our learning content, predominantly available in flash to iPad.” The advantage of this model is that instructional training content is already available in flash (delivered through the LMS) and the incremental effort for porting flash-based content to HTML5 is significantly lower than the cost of building online training content form scratch.
However, this approach poses two key challenges, namely, porting from flash to HTML5 severely limits the interactivity that we seem to expect from devices like iPad, and tracking the learning content usage when content is accessed through iPad is a major headache. At Sify, we have had to work closely with the LMS vendor to ensure that the LMS recognizes and supports iPad devices for content access and tracking. The LMS integration challenge could potentially derail the online training initiative through iPad if the company has the wrong LMS product or does not have the “buying” power to dictate terms with the LMS vendor.
Another approach to delivering training through iPad would be to build native apps on iPad. This approach, while more expensive than simply porting existing content, allows you to unleash all the interactive gestures supported by iPad and can deliver rich training. An eye opening data that was published recently reveals the importance of interactive content. According to a study by Manhattan Research (iPad Reps: Evaluating the Success of Early Initiatives & Identifying Strategic Opportunities in 2012), “physicians who touched a sales rep’s iPad were significantly more likely to have a satisfactory experience, and more likely to say the experience influenced their clinical decisions. However, only one-quarter of physicians who saw a sales rep with an iPad actually touched the device during the meeting.” While this may be tangential to sales training, I will apply the same logic to training effectiveness and course completion when content is delivered through iPad. The more interactive and immersive the content, the better is the usage statistics.