Cloud and digital technologies can help pharma companies achieve their business goal to ensure vital and innovative products and services are made available and used effectively to improve people’s health outcomes, as efficiently as possible. While many pharma companies are making significant strides in their digital reinvention journey, there is still a long way to go. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Rishabh Bindlish, Managing Director, India Life Sciences and Global Generics Lead, Accenture explained how cloud and digital technologies are transforming the pharma sector in India. Excerpts:
What are the key challenges that pharma companies face with cloud and digital adoption?
One of the key challenges in cloud and digital adoption within the pharma industry is that there is little incentive to transform one’s business model when it seems to work. Pharma companies have not been as motivated as other industries to prioritize moving to the cloud and may fear that the barrier is too high compared to the potential disruption to status quo. Individual data silos, legacy systems and security concerns across the value chain add complexity and risk to the move to cloud. Different groups have the responsibility and funding for digital and cloud as well as ecosystem collaboration, resulting in multiple stakeholders with different incentives, allotment of funding and ways of measuring success. Regulatory policies within companies can be slow and complex whereas new information technology (IT) methods and business models enabled by cloud are agile and faster. This disconnect can delay a company’s investment and adoption of cloud and other modern technologies. Another key challenge is the lack of skilled technology talent owing to stiff competition from tech giants and start-ups.
Specifically, on digital technologies which have compliance imperatives, pharma companies have started their journey but there needs to be a holistic approach which can help unlock multiple benefits in productivity and proactive compliance. Pharma companies need to address and overcome these challenges with a mature cloud strategy that is agile and cost-effective for the next phase of growth.
How can pharma companies maximise the value gained from cloud and digital technologies?
As one of the most value-creating technologies of our time, cloud is the foundation for the digital transformation that is driving profound changes in how businesses operate, compete, and create value for all their stakeholders. For pharma companies, cloud and digital technologies can help unlock data, collaborate better across the ecosystem, create more meaningful patient and healthcare provider engagement and transform their culture to embrace these new ways of working.
The key is to create a future ready data and analytics strategy with the cloud as backbone to drive usage of data in a multi-faceted manner for key business use-cases. With a cloud-based data platform, connected factories, intelligent supply chain, digital customer platforms and other disruptive technology platforms, pharma companies can maximize their ability and speed to unlock significant value.
There is a need to balance both speed and value in an intelligent cloud journey. A rushed migration without clear strategy can end up costing the business more. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, companies should start with defining the value, mapping out the journey and determining how cloud will enable the overall business strategy and ambition. To maximise value, pharma companies need to:
– Embrace cloud and digital technologies as a top leadership priority and view it as a critical enabler to business initiatives that drive efficiency, innovation and growth.
– Build cross-functional digital teams and partnerships to allow the cloud to serve as a catalyst for business reinvention using advanced digital technologies across the organization – integrating data to draw fresh insights on every aspect of the business
– Adopt an innovation focussed culture to embrace digital and analytics as the core to developing new products and services
– Unify responsibility and success metrics so that all parties and functions within the organisation have a common vision in moving to the cloud – agreeing to what they want to achieve, how they will achieve it and how to measure success
– Invest in developing talent with digital skills overall, going beyond building pockets of excellence, to implementing a strategy for achieving enterprise-wide transformation.
How has the pandemic and resulting disruptions changed the pace of cloud and digital technology adoption in the sector?
The COVID-19 pandemic has pressed a giant fast-forward button on how organisations build and use technology to refine strategy, define new markets, and boost employee productivity and well-being. In fact, Accenture’s 2021 Tech Vision report shows that 99% of executives surveyed from the Indian pharma sector said that the pandemic had proved to be an unprecedented stress test, for their organizations. In particular, there were significant pressures on four aspects: technology architecture, strategy, processes, and workforce.
Faced with the need to transform ways of working while accelerating products to market, pharma companies were challenged to lead digital transformation during a crisis. A few leading pharma companies had already started their digital transformation before the pandemic, but now it is happening at speed and at scale. As the crisis has unfolded, these leaders have further increased these investments while those who have not till now, have a bigger challenge to address. The pandemic has created a new inflection point that has given all pharma companies the opportunity to realize the impact of digital reinvention can have on their business.
What is Accenture’s value proposition in the pharma sector?
At Accenture, we offer a full range of services across strategy, consulting, operations and technology to help pharma companies deliver more personalised healthcare and improved patient outcomes. We help our clients in the pharma industry to make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives and the healthcare ecosystem by combining our data and analytics capabilities and human ingenuity with leading-edge technology.
What key digital trends do you foresee in the pharma sector?
It has been well established now that the future of healthcare is digital. In fact, it will be fair to say that there will be no leadership without technology leadership in the pharma sector. To stay ahead in the innovation curve and manage future disruptions, pharma companies need to leverage digital technologies to deliver high-quality products, hyper-personalized customer experiences and patient outcomes and proactively manage compliance and regulatory needs while also improving business performance.
Technology can further help enhance accessibility, affordability, availability, and awareness of the entire value chain for pharma companies. It can further help in bolstering our efforts in reducing the menace of counterfeit medicines. Deploying cloud solutions, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, smart factory solutions, connected products and supply chains, prescriptive and predictive analytics, blockchain and other disruptive technologies can enable pharma companies to operate and compete at unprecedented speed and scale. With compressed transformation, faster approvals by regulators and changing consumer preferences, pharma companies will need to leverage the power of data and analytics for decentralised and faster decision making.