The State of Pharma Digital Transformation 2020

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Publication Date:
July 2020
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How far has pharma come, and what does it still need to do, to realize the full benefits of digital technology across its business?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have spurred rapid expansion in the use of digital tools but how does that play into pharma's digital transformation journey? True digital transformation means an agile, integrated ecosystem which cuts across departments and harnesses the power and flexibility of digital technology to deliver overall business success and efficiencies. So, how far has pharma progressed down the digital transformation road and what are the key leadership, cultural and organizational issues it must now address?

The latest edition of this critical report The State of Pharma Digital Transformation 2020 explores, through interviews with digital leaders from companies such as Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, LEO Pharma and Lundbeck, the key current state of progress and the areas where pharma needs to focus its management time, talent, attention and investment.

Digital experts review and explore...

  • What is the current state of pharma's digital capabilities and where have they improved over the past 2 years?
  • Have changes been made to digital leadership in an effort to drive change and how can senior management accelerate digital transformation?
  • What improvements have been made by pharma in data management and infrastructure as part of achieving digital transformation?
  • Have technologies such as wearables, personalized tools, and gamification facilitated pharma's digital transformation in any way?
  • What are the untapped opportunities for using digital technologies within clinical trials?
  • How far away is pharma from developing "true" artificial intelligence (AI), rather than artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), applications?
  • What lessons have been learnt from COVID-19 and how might they impact pharma's digital transformation plans?

What Experts say...

"Digital transformation is currently a hot topic everywhere, and many pharma companies have made digital transformation an integral part of their business strategy. They are either exploring or have already implemented emerging and disruptive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, drones, Internet-of-Things, blockchain, advanced analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. The implementation of those technologies encompasses a whole range of new risks. I can see that many companies are changing their willingness to take more calculated risks. Many of them are actively balancing risk management and risk appetite. When deciding to implement digital initiatives, pharma companies face risks that cut across sectors, such as cyber threats, data breaches, reputation risks, and risks from third and fourth parties, such as small health start-up and big tech companies."
Hicham Naim

"Some changes that we have made to leadership was to recruit digital natives and empower them to lead highly visible digital initiatives, so they could bring new methodologies and mindsets on-board – all the ones you need to be successful in digital. We then developed a complete change management program, and a curriculum of learning for the rest of the organisation to be better educated in digital. Finally, we apply Omni channel internally to make sure every internal customer of our digital transformation goes through the appropriate customer journey."
Florent Edouard
Grünenthal Group

"From a data management standpoint, I believe pharma companies have been getting much better. They have been getting patient information, both real-world evidence and data from large institutions that house patient data. They are also looking at ways to get biometric information from patients into trials and using that data to look at patterns for drug development. We believe that the next frontier for us is data. We believe in managing patient data and data from trials more effectively; it is going to help us achieve better drug development."
Hernando Giraldo
Boehringer Ingelheim

Case studies included

  • IMI's Blockchain Enabled Healthcare
  • The "#wearenotwaiting" movement by diabetes patient advocates
  • Roche's Kinesis on changing leadership mindset on digital transformation
  • Designing a drug through artificial intelligence
  • Blockchain and Smartphones for health information exchange
  • Janssen's first-ever completely decentralized indication-seeking clinical trial
  • Takeda and Recursion Pharmaceuticals' pair up for disease prediction
  • Predicting demand and preventing drug shortages with TraceLink Inc
  • Collaboration in the 'All of Us' program

A valuable benchmark

To achieve successful coordinated cross-functional initiatives, top executives must focus on six main areas:

  • Strategy
  • Talent
  • Agility
  • Analytics
  • Technology
  • Operations

In the 2018 edition of The State of Pharma's Digital Transformation many of these areas were found to be lacking. Two years on, this current edition benchmarks pharma's achievements and highlights the continued challenges being faced.

What to expect

A detailed report exploring the progress and emerging issues as pharma transforms to a digital future.

  • An examination of 13 key issues that are driving pharma's digital transformation
  • 15 targeted questions put to experts with responsibilities for digital transformation
  • Their responses, which provided 90 insights supported by 99 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

Experts contributing to this report have been screened to ensure they have:

  • At least 5 years involvement in pharma digital initiatives (multichannel marketing, social media campaigns, mobile apps, m-health, or others); or
  • Direct experience in the design, development or management of pharma's digital transformation strategy within the last 2 years

Experts interviewed included

  • Mohammed Ali is the Global Head of Digital Development, Global Clinical Operations at Boehringer Ingelheim, US. Prior to this role, he served as Director of R&D Operations and Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, and within the digital development group at Novartis. He has worked on several digital programs designed to serve the needs of patients by creating a digital footprint and platform that assists in the overall tracking, delivery and enrichment of their experience. With over 12 years of experience, Mohammed is passionate about bringing the human element into the modern technological world.
  • Florent Edouard is the Senior Vice President, Global Head of Commercial Excellence at Grünenthal Group. He leads the company's digital commercial transformation and global commercial excellence, including digital platforms and capabilities as well as overall commercial insights and analytics. He is enthusiastic about what he refers to as the "complete revolution" being experienced by healthcare, which will usher in new treatments, technologies, mindsets and values. Florent has served in various roles within the healthcare industry for almost 20 years and is MIT certified in digital marketing analytics and digital business strategy.
  • Hernando Giraldo has held the role of Regional Lead of Digital Development at Boehringer Ingelheim, US, since January 2018. He is a digital leader with over 30 years' worth of experience within the IT industry, who is passionate about creating innovative global solutions to improve patient engagement and enhance delivery experience. He is an advocate of Robotic Process Automation to drive business optimization and ease staff burden. In his current role, he strives to transform the clinical trial process, driving the use of decentralized trial partners.
  • Adama Ibrahim is the Director of Digital Solutions (Global Drug Development) with Novartis, Switzerland, where she is involved in developing digital strategies and driving the implementation and expansion of disruptive digital technologies across the drug development portfolio. Prior to this, she served as Biogen's Associate Director of Performance Operational Capabilities and Global Clinical Operations in the UK. She has over 19 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having worked for Hoffman La-Roche, Amgen, ALMAC, and ICON. Adama is a passionate advocate of, and a respected thought leader in, technology-enabled clinical trials and patient engagement.
  • Kasper Jerlang is Head of Global Digital Marketing and Engagement at Leo Pharma, Denmark. He has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having previously worked with AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk. In his current role at Leo Pharma, Kasper leads the global digital engagement strategy to get everyone onboard the company's in-house centralized digital platform ecosystem. The key focus of this digital ecosystem is on marketing automation, data and insights, organizational change, and globalization. He has also previously served as Leo Pharma's Head of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific.
  • Dr. Hicham Naim (PharmD, MBA, CCXP, PMP) is the Global Integrated & Personalized Care Program Lead at Takeda, Digital Advisory Board to Takeda Executive Team (TET). Dr Naim has been directly involved in numerous organizational transformation initiatives. Having previously served as Takeda's Head of Strategy and Business Operations for Europe and Canada, and Head of Customer Experience Strategy and Operations, he has also been on the frontline of the company's digital transformation. From both the pharmaceutical and management consulting industries, Dr Naim has over 20 years of hands-on experience across the value chain, from strategy to execution.
  • Danilo Pagano is the Vice President of Digital and Customer Engagement at Lundbeck, Denmark. He has 11 years of experience in consultancy within the fields of digital marketing and customer engagement in several industries from consumer goods to medtech. Danilo has a demonstrated history of innovation within the pharmaceutical industry with past roles as Digital and Customer Engagement Lead at MSD Italy and part of the global digital transformation team at Merck & Co. Danilo has over 20 years of experience in developing new strategies to drive companies' digital transformation.
  • Anonymous is the Head of Global Digital Solutions at a top 10 pharma company in Europe. With over 20 years of experience in the pharma industry, she has extensive knowledge and experience of digital trends. She has also played a key role in the digital transformation of her own company.

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