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Thriving amidst change: Navigating technology’s transformation journey

03 Oct 2023

Technology transformation in the pharmaceutical industry

Technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, redefining the way industries work. However, obstacles remain when it comes to embracing technology transformation in the pharmaceutical industry.
Managing the complexity of planning and executing the technology transformation journey while considering stringent regulatory compliance and data security requirements is a primary challenge. Additionally, infrastructure and resource constraints, as well as cultural and organizational resistance may further impede technology adoption. During this journey, organizations still need to leverage data effectively, adopt patient-centric approaches, and navigate the global market dynamics to make informed decisions and drive better health outcomes.
For companies to thrive amidst change, it is important for them to assess their current state of capabilities and resources, clearly define the technology transformation objectives, align business priorities with technology agenda, and build the culture, processes, and governance to achieve them.At the Indegene Digital Summit, Juanjo Francesch, Global CIO Human Health IT & Managing Director, Merck, shared valuable insights on how life sciences companies can thrive amidst such a dynamic environment and stay ahead of the curve.The highlights of the keynote session are summarized below.

Benchmarking and understanding the landscape is the first step toward technology transformation

Change is constant and technology never stands still. Adaptability is key to stay relevant, and business need to embrace this change and find meaningful use cases for emerging technologies to transform organizations. Juanjo urges pharmaceutical companies to identify their company's "burning platform" that requires a technology transformation. Also, the sense of urgency to implement such initiatives is determined by whether the company faces any challenges such as cybersecurity events, or infrastructure reliability issues, or if they are in a comfortable position with time and resources to spare for such transformation efforts.
Factors such as the number of blockbuster drugs, pipeline of drugs in development, resources availability, current state of technology infrastructure are some of the key pillars on how pharmaceutical companies can address technology transformation. Hence, along with identifying the burning platform they want to change or the business priorities they intend to achieve, it is extremely crucial for organizations to assess their lifecycle and their ability to execute these initiatives with the same external environment and the same level of access to technology. Further, comprehensive analysis of their company’s life cycle helps them benchmark their position in the technology landscape; whether they are starting from scratch in a startup or dealing with a highly globalized or fragmented environment.
We need to adapt and what's really important in my experience is understanding your company's current situation. Where are you now, what resources do you have, and what urgent reasons do you have for making changes?
– Juanjo Francesh

The Positive Flywheel Effect: Cultivate a culture of dependability, trust, innovation, and pride

Juanjo emphasized that technology decisions should not just be driven by business decisions. The primary focus of any technology leader should always be on understanding and aligning with the business outcomes and objectives. Technology should serve as an enabler for these goals. Technologists need to be one step ahead in their understanding of the use cases of emerging technologies, to be able to effectively guide the business when they approach them for the technology strategy.
Also, while benchmarking and identifying business priorities are important, as a technologist, a fundamental requirement to drive transformation is to be dependable because dependability is the cornerstone of trust. Juanjo highlighted that trust is the key to unlocking meaningful conversations about strategy, innovation, and improvement, which leads into a much more engaging environment for you, for yourself and for your employees.
Even when we all have similar access to technology and face similar external conditions, the stage of your company's growth is crucial. It decides how you need to approach a technology upgrade.
– Juanjo Francesh

The complex intersection of business and IT requires a delicate balance

Pharmaceutical companies should avoid creating a technology strategy. The secret to a successful technology transformation is to embed technology into the business strategy. This approach ensures alignment and keeps technology initiatives focused on supporting key business priorities. With this, companies can also ensure everyone is on the same page, given the dynamic approach required to navigate such complex technology landscape. Apart from this, it is essential for companies to create a shared vision of technology transformation, which involves understanding the capabilities needed for the next 2-3 years. It is important for technologists to keep a pulse on beyond their industry to see what other companies are doing. Additionally, they must connect their technology strategy with the business's short-term objectives to maintain alignment.
As a tech leader, it's vital to have a clear perspective and a good understanding of the tech environment. This helps make better decisions and streamline processes when undergoing a tech transformation.
– Juanjo Francesh

The journey matters - embrace change, understand the unique position, and align technology with business objectives

Change is an omnipresent force in today's world. In the ever-changing landscape of technology and business, there is no "perfect" destination. Having a North Star, understanding where organizations want to go, and continuously benchmarking their progress against key metrics is what will keep their transformation efforts on track. The journey is ongoing, and the key is to keep progressing, measuring success, and fostering a culture of innovation.
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