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Digital transformation isn’t optional: it’s the key to survival

Digital transformation isn’t optional: it’s the key to survival


Life sciences cannot escape the call to transform itself as other industries have had to, warns Elvis Pacelat, Vice-President of Compliance Management at AMPLEXOR
Last Updated: 09-Dec-2016

Industries from retail to financial services have long accepted the need to digitally transform their operations. It paves the way for step changes in how brands operate, how they engage and get closer to customers, how they build market feedback into development cycles, how they drive new and repeat business, and how they identify and address new market opportunities.

All of these challenges exist in the pharma industry too, so it seems surprising that companies here haven’t embraced the trend more enthusiastically.

One of the biggest issues life sciences organisations grapple with is data, and visibility across processes. Commonly, data is limited in its usefulness and users lack confidence in what they can do with it because they cannot be sure it is up to date or tells the whole story. Digital transformation, beginning with regulatory content, is about turning that situation around so that information is comprehensive and can be turned into intelligence through more detailed scrutiny (analytics).

The first goal is to get to a single source of ‘truth’ – a unified master data set - which can be mined and repurposed for all sorts of different uses across the business.

This doesn’t mean starting from scratch. A big part of the transformation should be to harmonise existing data sources, from databases to document archives - so that all of the content and knowledge locked within them becomes a searchable, digital asset. Information should remain traceable back to its source, too.

Once there is a reliable core data set, accessible digitally to authorised users anywhere, a range of operational business processes suddenly become much more efficient and reliable. It is easier for companies to test and enter new markets, for example, without having to start from scratch in building up the information needed to satisfy local requirements.

This is not a journey that can be completed overnight. Effective digital transformation requires a roadmap, which may differ for each organisation depending on its current set-up and priorities. But it is important that companies press on. Government emphasis, regulatory demands and customer preferences are changing now, and life sciences businesses that can’t adapt are at risk.

A big part of what’s required is a shift in mind-set, towards a greater vision and a preparedness to do things differently. Firms also need access to undergo technical assessments so they have a clear picture of what’s possible, and what needs to happen practically to get to where they want to be.

They may need to think laterally about how they provision suitable IT systems. If they want to encompass affiliate organisations and enable secure remote access to master data as well as all other data, cloud hosting may be advisable - as long as the company retains control of the strategy.

With a New Year approaching, now is an ideal time for organisations to start making transformative and lasting resolutions.