Driving Digital Transformation in the Pharma Industry

By Wayne Hull
Featured in Pharma Tech Outlook, January 2021

The healthcare industry is highly regulated and as a result, has been slow to change and embrace new technology. At PCI, a leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical global outsourcing solutions provider, we see ourselves as pioneers who are challenging the status quo.

We are looking ahead to the future and see the huge potential that digitization holds for the pharmaceutical supply chain. We are now a year into a three-year corporate digital transformation strategy and have made great progress. Below are some of the factors contributing to our early success:

Listen and Learn: We’ve taken a novel approach to forming our strategy by listening to what our clients want, and using this feedback to guide the path forward. Through a number of client conversations and workshops, we’ve identified important areas of focus. Given our shared purpose to bring life-changing therapies to patients faster, our clients were more than willing to engage with us in this way.

Set Focused Goals and a Roadmap to Get There: To meet the future needs of our global client base, we established three very clear objectives. They are: enhance customer experiences, digitize core business processes to achieve collaboration and efficiencies, and align IT capabilities for scale. The goals are based on extensive research around the pharmaceutical supply chain industry and digital trends. We also implemented an innovative internal design thinking process to stimulate ideas from our teams for specific “value initiatives” that would ladder back to these goals. A few examples of these initiatives include a new digital client platform, business process digitization, and electronic quality management.

Invest in Technologies and Talent: When our CEO Salim Haffar joined PCI in September 2018, he saw an opportunity to take a progressive approach to the way we work and create an industry leading client experience through digitization. His vision was to invest in both talent and emerging technologies to improve our core business operations and create even more value for clients. While technologies like cloud, cybersecurity, big data, digital marketing and robotics are key to the changes we want to make, seasoned talent to implement these changes is just as critical. As such, we have made new hires and brought the marketing, digital and technology functions closer together, reporting under one structure and working across traditional silos.

Encourage Clients and Employees to Embrace Change: Change is never easy, especially in a conservative industry. Employees and clients alike need to be supported to adopt new systems and technologies. There needs to be a top-down approach with clear and transparent communications about the strategy so stakeholders understand the bigger picture and the benefits they will ultimately realize. Leadership needs to layout what employees can expect in the future and how the organization will support them with training for new software, platforms, etc. Likewise, the organization needs to be prepared to train clients and may need to take a phased approach so it’s manageable.

As we continue in our digital transformation journey at PCI, we are building evidence that our investments are providing real and measurable returns. As a result, we are more confident to leverage new innovations and implement emerging technologies sooner. This is an exciting process and our ability to evolve quickly and propose even more novel solutions is what will continue to differentiate PCI in this industry.