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How to convert objectives to outcomes? Enabling digital transformation and driving business impact - sharing insights from Pfizer's journey

1 Nov 2022

At the Indegene Digital Summit 2022, industry expert, Robert Brown, Senior Vice President at Pfizer shared his experiences, best practices, and learning as he led digital transformation across Pfizer. He talked about how strategy and mindset laid the foundation of transformation, what support systems were developed to achieve sustainability and scale up the process, and how this impacted the business. The discussion was not only limited to broad strategies and foundation work, but it also dived deep into nuances at the functional level as well.

North stars to establish before embarking on the journey

  1. Shifting to patient centricity: Focus on the patient and work towards personalization. A shift in values is required, and what does preventive care mean in terms of health outcomes?
  2. Embracing technology breakthroughs: There have been always many shiny objects in the market such as machine learning, deep learning, and AI, but what is required to move the needle?
  3. Reacting to market disruptors: New players, tech giants in pharmaceutical drug development, and healthcare business are exploring opportunities across the pharma spectrum and challenging the old processes
  4. Chasing the larger purpose: There cannot be a bigger North Star than saving the world. Find the purpose that can bind the entire organization.

Laying a strong foundation

The very first thing is to create a business strategy for a digital world. The objective must not be just to do digital transformation but to create a business strategy to evolve into this digital world that we all are fully engaged. And the competitive edge lies in one’s ability to drive digital innovation across the entire value chain quickly and at scale. Getting products to market as quickly as possible is imperative in today’s scenario because (1) It is very expensive to bring a drug to market, (2) Patients are waiting, and (3) It is critical for the business to be successful in the marketplace. Implementing these principles in practice, one of the initiatives taken by the Pfizer team is, chasing a goal of three-by-three in their clinical trials function, which aims to reduce the cycle time of clinical trials by three years in the next three years. This mindset shift is the ability that will ensure the sooner availability of products to patients.

A good foundation is built on an operating model that focuses on customers and company priorities. It can answer the most basic yet critical questions, such as (1) Where to spend? (2) How much to spend? Working more horizontally is the way forward. This requires portfolio rebalancing by shifting it to strategic initiatives that cut across functions. This operating model (1) Allows you to be nimble, (2) Facilitates engagement at the proper levels inside and outside the organization from top to bottom, and (3) Allows prioritization of investments in various portfolios and ensures investment in the right places. This new operating model becomes the game changer for big life sciences organizations as many of them live in a world of verticals where functions like RnD, Regulatory, and Commercial work in silos.

The foundational work is to be supported with several initiatives.

  1. Upgradation of the network to improve performance and develop cyber resiliency. This will ensure a strong network that is backed up and fully protected.
  2. Transition to the cloud as it creates the ability to be flexible and to scale while bringing in cost savings.
  3. Reduction in service interruptions that impact business. For example, one can work towards improving the ability to always make any type of information available to all the people within the organization. Based on the amount of information that a pharma company must deal with in terms of the number of products on the market, and the number of submissions to handle, it becomes critical to manage and protect data stores while ensuring data availability.

Scaling Up and driving business impact

The investment in the foundation provides the ability to scale up in an agile way. For example, once a strong foundation has been laid, one can aim to reduce time spent reviewing and approving timeframes to days and hours. In addition to this, developing agile functioning teams is equally crucial. Empower colleagues with focused learning programs and equip them with the skills that are needed in a digital world.

The ultimate goal of digital transformation is to enable quick response and drive profound business impact. Besides modernizing the working ways for people within the organization, partners, and vendors, organizations need to focus on virtual customer communications to drive impact. This means connecting to patients around the globe, no matter where they are. For example, developing diversification in clinical trials. This can ensure access to patients and getting medicines to those patients, no matter where they sit, allowing to bring the trial to the patient versus the patient having to travel to the site. This can also impact how our sales representatives share medical information with healthcare professionals.

This keynote session is filled with examples from the day-to-day practices and use cases that help in identifying opportunities, building a digital transformation roadmap, and scaling up from there.