March 22, 2017

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” —
This slogan came to mind during the 13th Annual Pharmaceutical Forum co-hosted by Meetingsnet (@meetingsnet) and CBI, Center for Business Intelligence (@CBI_Conferences) held in Baltimore, Maryland. As winter storm Stella was moving into the area and threatening attendance, I sat wide-eyed in anticipation of the Opening Session where I witnessed the arrival of over 800 attendees, a 27% increase in corporate planners and 20% increase in international attendance from 2016.
Sitting tall and attentive with super-cool meeting analytics devices in hand provided by Educational Measures (@EdMeasures); junior and senior meeting professionals, hoteliers and 3rd party vendors embraced the theme of the conference:

[one_third last=”no” class=”” id=”]Educate[/one_third][one_third last=”no” class=”” id=””]Engage[/one_third][one_third last=”yes” class=”” id=””]Empower[/one_third]

Over three days of general sessions, educational breakouts, and networking events, attendance stayed strong. Committed to completing their appointed rounds…stakeholders in attendance continued to coach one another on best practices, engage in problem solving and empower one another to convey success stories that can assist each organization with addressing the challenges of managing HCP interactions. Based on what I saw and experienced I have chosen to add what I believe was a fourth theme at the conference; and that is Enlighten. For example, one of the opening sessions titled Navigate Meeting Management in a World Full of Risk poignantly illustrated the current world in which we now live and work. The slides referenced the fact that Risk Management is the fastest growing career today and that 48% of meeting professionals surveyed reported an increase in their meeting costs because of the need for increased security — up from 17 % in 2015.
In addition to compliantly managing HCP engagements and managing overall risk, globalization is on everyone’s mind, regardless of which side of the desk you are on. Life Sciences organizations strive to align their processes and centralize data across their organizations through global Strategic Meeting Management Programs (SMMP). During the keynote address, Shaping Our Future — Execute Successful Global Programs and Expand Business Interests Based on 2017 Industry Trends — we were reminded of the critical success factors that must be in place when creating and launching an SMMP. These success factors include strategy governance and policy, change management strategy, the RIGHT resources and near and dear AHM, of course, a global technology platform. Vendors and third parties are aligning globally to provide trusted advice and solutions that drive efficiencies and cost savings while easing the adherence to compliance requirements. Best practices and the pitfalls of designing an SMMP will be further identified in AHM’s soon to be released whitepaper on SMMP.
In reflecting on the overall conference and experiences shared this year, the true value of face-to-face meetings comes to mind. Another statistic highlighted by Meetings Mean Business (@MeetingsMeanBiz) is the fact that 1 hour of face-to-face contact equals to 5 video conferences, 10 phone calls, or 20 emails! Although virtual meetings or a component within your live meetings adds value, nothing can replace the human face-to-face element. It remains the key to building important and lasting relationships.
I attend this conference every year and look forward to doing so in the future. Peers, competitors, colleagues are there and yes — friends are there! Thank you to contributors, and all of the attendees @pharmaforum_cbi. See you next year!

Contributed by:

Lisa Keilty, Global VP of Compliance and Strategic Solutions, AHM

Lisa joined AHM after serving as founder of the Compliance Consulting firm PMC2 and spending over 26 years in the life sciences and meeting management industry. Leading such organizations as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb and Biogen Idec through numerous international projects, financial transparency and reporting requirements, Lisa’s industry expertise has saved Life Sciences and Meeting Management organizations over 30 million dollars. As a member of the Business Development team, Lisa’s primary focus will be Thought Leadership, Demand Generation and Solution Design.