Pharma – Riding On The Digital Wave

Pharma companies need to adopt a strategic digital vision to capitalize on the opportunities and potential of digitization.

The pharma industry has been proactive in harnessing digital technology to build lean and agile organizations. From deploying cloud-based platforms, mobile-applications to advanced data analytics tools, pharma businesses have been reaping the tremendous benefits of digitization.

Digitization holds tremendous potential in helping pharma companies adapt and face the growing challenges, such as, supply chain complexities, price and cost pressure and globalization.

Need for a strategic plan

However, to optimally capitalize on the trend, the pharma industry needs to adopt a strategic digital vision which includes the following elements:

IT and digital teams to be aligned with business trajectory and focus on business planning and execution.
Critical areas in the value chain, such as, R&D, manufacturing and quality, supply chain, sales and marketing, digital communications, etc. should clearly define KPIs for digitalized operations.
Leadership should articulate a clear vision about the importance and the expectations from the digital strategy.
Tactical choices to be made in terms of specific ERP platform, implementation partners, pilot vs. full implementation and so on.
People, processes and culture should be cohesively aligned to achieve the organizations’ digital success.

Digitization challenges

Digitization comes with its own protocols, risks and challenges apart from investment and maintenance considerations. Often, the strategic vision is lacking or the senior management sponsorship is absent. Hence, a long-term commitment is mandatory.

Building capabilities, both internal and external, is critical to ensure the success. A CIO and skilled staff with the requisite digitization skills are required to digitize processes quickly. The implementation strategy also needs to start small and scale big; instead of big bang launches, pilot runs should be the norm.

Disconnect between vision and implementation often hampers the digital transformation. Delay can cause competitive disadvantages to a company in terms of its inability to respond to sudden surge in the market demand or inability to deal with competitive pressures in the market.

Adopting a War Room strategy

Building analytics capabilities through digitization helps pharma companies take tactical decisions and improve performance. This War Room facilitates a 360-degree view of market, competition, prices, market shares, portfolio, capacities, supply chain, human resources and everything else, to see whether each part of the business is growing its sales & profits in line with the targets. The CEO would then be inclined to allocate time to review & intervene specific aspects of the organization.

The benefits of digitization are immense and tremendous. However, to harvest the full potential of the digital disruption, pharma companies will have to rebuild businesses with digital at the core.

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#WorldBookDay: Books That Have Influenced My Life

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Meet Challenges Head On – Dr Ranjana Pathak To Women Leaders In The Making

My journey has been a roller coaster ride, filled with laughter and some tears. The challenges were numerous, since I started at the very bottom, this forces you to learn, understand the nuances of the job, the expectations of the organisation, and the regulators.

This job soon became a career and now a calling. I have always been driven, spent hours reading trade journals, studying books on key topics such as chromatography, the USP etc. By the way, the USP is a great book to learn from if you are in the lab. When I started my career, I was the only girl in the QC lab, it was daunting because I had zero experience, this was a challenge to overcome. For me it was a new country, working for the first time in my life, so I suppose the survival instinct kicked in. I have always been very focused. I have the drive to be the best in what I do. These two traits have enabled me to be a perennial student, keeping me in the learning mode. I never liked the status quo and always opted for harder tasks, taught courses because it would force me to learn and be challenged by pharma executives. The need to excel has been with me literally all my life which drives me to take challenges head-on.

In summary, it is my purpose, drive, doggedness, persistence and courage that have enabled me to overcome the numerous challenges that faced me and I know I am not alone! I have also been blessed with having a very supportive family, bosses and colleagues.

Challenges for women leaders

Time is the biggest challenge, the pharma industry is competitive and by nature, timeline bound. There is seldom tomorrow, everything seems to be needed yesterday, a very fast paced, exacting and demanding industry, full of challenges, some anticipated and others binding. For women, to play their classical roles in society and families becomes difficult, because of their innate nature.
Women from time immemorial have been jugglers, they must juggle the needs of their families, children, work, friends, communities etc…the list goes on and on.
Given that the number of hours is limited for all, women need to be able to prioritise the ‘must dos’, and let go of those tasks that cannot be done and will not matter in the long run, ‘take help’ from family members, friends, neighbours to be able to juggle everything on their plate.

Creating a conducive growth environment

The government can and should execute laws that are conducive for women to work, the organisations then must follow through to make the workplace environment safe. School and universities should promote science and maths so children join science rather than hanker for business degrees alone, don’t get me wrong we need those as well but I think I see a tip towards business. If there is no product, there will be no business to manage. Today’s generation wants instant gratification, the millennials are different from the baby boomer generation, their needs and tolerances are not the same. Careers in disciplines other science seem to be more popular. The pharma industry needs sharp scientists, engineers, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, computer science etc. to ensure that new drugs/devices are developed, existing drugs are made more affordable, the quality is uncompromised. This is a daunting task where the government can help in ensuring the platforms exist. The government can do a lot to make this feasible for women/ girls in urban and rural schools.

Need for regular campus placement

There are more number of science graduates coming out of universities who want to join the pharma sector. However, due to lack of job opportunities, they have to change their career goal. To address this, the pharma industry needs to be present on the campus to educate the graduates of tomorrow about the needs of humanity (need for medicines) and the need of society.

Success Mantra

To my newcomers and those that are stalwarts: Always do the right thing, be courageous, know your subject, believe in yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say—Wow, I am looking at a great piece of art that is going to make a huge difference today!!! If I can do it…You can do it better!!

This article originally appeared in Express Pharma.

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Books: A Cerebral Affair

“A Reader lives a thousand lives before dying. Those who never read live only once!”

All of us enter youth and the corporate world with the quiet confidence that we can change the world. Alas, this lasts only “until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the height of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain”. Our everyday challenges – finding and then doing well in a good job, keeping up with an often fragile relationship, the heavy load of expectations from our parents and ourselves, lack of clarity on what we really want to do in life, the rat race and constant comparison with our peers – often pull us down into mediocrity. And the grand idea of being the very best we can gets quietly put aside.

So Why Read Books?

If we agree that good counsel can help us become much better, what better guide than books? Mentors and teachers can come and go and may turn out to be false Gods. Why not drink from the ageless wisdom of good books, learning from the myriad experiences of some of the best of our species?

As Durant said, “When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and home, let us come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe…”

But What Exactly To Read?

There is a book for every mood and occasion. Choosing few recommendations is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

Let me start with a few recommendations from my side (click each link for more recommendations and a short summary)…

(If you want more, see my blog on 100 Books To Make Us Wise).

Part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So look out for what appeals to you. Obviously, choose the books very carefully. Good books can be an everlasting love affair, just as bad books can be more enervating than a date gone horribly wrong.

 

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Union Budget 2018 – A Budget That Improves The ‘Health of the Nation’

Union Budget 2018 did a commendable job in addressing critical social sector priorities such as healthcare, education and agriculture – a progressive move that will help improve rural economy, encourage entrepreneurship and trigger future growth.

We welcome the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare scheme – Ayushman Bharat Programme which will extend the benefits of health insurance to 100 million families, ensuring access & affordability of healthcare products and services to a larger section of the society. While there is no immediate impact on the industry, the move could trigger a rise in demand for medicines.

The investment in Government health and education programs is indeed, an extremely progressive step that will usher in healthcare reforms in the country. The industry continues to remain hopeful of the Government to take steps to promote pharma R&D in the country through the rollback of phasing out of weighted deduction on R&D.

The extension of the lower corporate tax rate to MSMEs will support expansion and growth. It could have been extended to larger corporations as India’s corporate tax rate is towards a higher range when compared globally.

On the larger macro-economy, the focus on financial prudence and keeping the fiscal deficit under check is appreciated. The reintroduction of LTCG tax might be perceived as detrimental by market participants. The recommendations and policy changes in the budget have the promise to take India forward on a trajectory of economic growth. However, the implementation of the same on the ground level will prove to be the litmus test for the government.

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