Innovation and digital transformation; Competitive advantage or lag?

Fabiola Trujillo
9 de August de 2022 · 7 min de lectura

In the framework of the  Barcelona Health Hub Summit Iberoamérica, entitled “The digital revolution in pharma”, Multiplica presented a panel with great experts in the pharmaceutical industry; exchanging opinions and reflections on innovation and digital transformation from a very interesting perspective.

Alex Ruiz, Health Global Head at Multiplica, led the session with the participation of Marion Reviriego, Transformation Head at Sanofi; Karen García, Innovation Ambassador at Bayer and Sergio Cortés, Digital Business unit director at Ferrer.

The panel focused on the current situation of companies in the pharmaceutical industry in the face of innovation and digital transformation, given the acceleration that has emerged in the industry in the wake of the pandemic.

Competitive Advantage or Competitive Lag?

When talking about innovation and digital transformation, the panelists agreed in saying that it is an irremediable necessity for the entire industry, since, as in other sectors, the emergence of new players and more disruptive technologies have generated a change in the user experience that the industry must satisfy; in fact, it is something that the patient himself expects and demands from this new experience.

Sergio Cortés, Digital Business Unit Director at Ferrer, comments that from his point of view, the company has made relevant progress in the incorporation of digital capabilities to innovation, including efficiency in customer experience and go to market, emphasizing that it currently has all the resources to accelerate the transformation and ensure the experience of doctors and patients to adjust to the world we live in today.

Although the pharmaceutical industry remained for many years in a comfort zone due to the regulations to which it is subjected, today the cost of not getting on top of these issues is substantial, since after the pandemic there are new behaviors and needs of customers, patients and doctors alike.

In this context, Karen García, Innovation Ambassador at Bayer, pointed out that digital acceleration is imperative and the exponential introduction of new technologies forces the industry to change paradigms in order to reformulate operations with new business models and greater interaction with patients and the entire healthcare ecosystem.

Paradigm and Mindset Shift in the industry

There are several barriers that exist when it comes to achieving a digital transformation in pharmaceutical industry companies, and the experts agreed that one of the most relevant is the change of mindset that must be present at all levels of the organization in order to guarantee its success.

Marion Reviriego, Transformation Head at Sanofi, also adds the need for data integration as the basis for transformation and emphasizes training to improve the skills of teams to understand the new digital language.

“There is a generation gap that must begin to be reduced, starting with Senior Management, which is the engine and sponsor that will ensure the success of the digital transformation in the company, therefore, it is important to make different pilots that gradually involve all areas of the organization” Marion Reviriego, Transformation Head at Sanofi.

Karen García pointed out that it is important to consider that we are in a changing environment that demands coordinated and agile organizations, however, organizations do not have all the answers, hence the importance of being open to contribute and generate an ecosystem to solve the great challenges we face today as humanity.

Digital transformation process in digital talent 

Undoubtedly, another major challenge facing the industry in this process is the availability of suitable digital equipment in the process.

The key, according to Sergio Cortés, lies in the mix that can be achieved between internal talent with experience in the industry that is in constant training on digital issues, and the incorporation of people specialized in transformation issues that contribute to greater efficiency to improve the experience of all users.

Karen García stressed the importance of having creative leaders, as they will be the role models for the teams, and highlighted the following characteristics that, from her point of view, are essential for these leaders to have:

  • Risk tolerance
  • Openness to change
  • Feeling comfortable with what is new
  • Emotional stability in the face of the uncertainty generated by innovation
  • Focus on implementation
  • Flexibility in thinking
  • Employee development training (upskilling and reskilling)

There is no question that the profile of talent in companies has shifted, as Marion Reviriego stated to conclude this point, reiterating the need for a balance between the development of internal talent and the need to incorporate talent from other industries that inspire, but at the same time are capable of adapting to the levels of transformation of each company.

Pharmaceutical companies’ shift towards “User Centric”

During the talk, experts pointed out the importance of companies being increasingly more user-oriented and less product-oriented, developing co-creation scenarios directly with users, and relying less and less on information obtained from third parties. 

The ultimate goal of customer centricity is to ensure that each individual has a unique experience tailored to his or her individual needs.

“It is only by identifying the right users, knowing their needs and identifying their journeys that we will be able to connect with differentiated and customized solutions. It is important to keep customers in mind at all stages of design to achieve a complete user experience, with teams sharing different perspectives to enrich the experience”. Karen García, Innovation Ambassador at Bayer

To conclude the session, Sergio Cortés pointed out the importance of being clear about the final objective that each company has, landing and advancing every day in what can be done today, but without losing the long-term strategic vision. 

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