Business resilience is the ability of an organization to recover from difficulty, adapt to change and persevere in the face of unexpected disruption. A strong resilience plan is grounded in principles that enable the organization to address any form of disruptive business event. Still, a comprehensive understanding of the Life Sciences industry’s most disruptive events will help organizations develop a well-rounded strategic defense.

Sixty-four percent of Life Sciences executives claim their businesses’ current growth strategies have little to no risk of disruption,1 but there are several industry disruptors that present significant risk to ‘business as usual’ and should be considered in the development of a resilience strategy.



Data loss/compromise

Life Sciences organizations continue to grow investment in technology-enabled solutions across all areas of their business, from discovery to manufacturing to patient services, resulting in swelling stores of critical business data. With technology at the core of new areas of business, data breaches present a more widespread threat. Sixty percent of Life Sciences executives ranked information security as the top regulatory compliance and information security concern for their organization.2

Product removal from market

Sixty-three percent of industry executives feel that their supply chain is highly or moderately impacted by disruptive events.3 Disruption with a direct impact on manufacturing and supply chain activities can result in removal of product from the market. This can manifest in the form of system hacks, quality control failures, compliance issues or natural disasters. One recent example is the June 2017 Petya cyber-attack that compromised portions of pharmaceutical manufacturing and warehouse systems, interrupting the supply chain.

Landscape shift/competitive challenges

The pharmaceutical and biotech landscape has experienced noteworthy disruption in recent years. Frequent and large-scale mergers and acquisitions, as well as new entrants and partnerships have challenged historical market assumptions. Thirty-two percent of Life Science executives say that significant M&A activity in the industry presents a risk to business as usual.4 As the list of competitors extends beyond expected industry players, organizations are forced to re-evaluate the way they think about pharmaceutical and biotech products and services. Within the market, fierce competition in demonstrating value to obtain reimbursement and formulary decisions represents a further competitive risk to growth.

In the face of these risks, resilience emerges as the capability by which organizations prepare for, respond to and recover from business disruption. How can Life Sciences companies approach resilience planning differently? What are the elements of a strong resilience strategy? And how can organizations certify a full recovery?

When developed properly, resilience is a strategy that permeates all business functions.

To successfully prepare for threats, resilient organizations must operationalize prior to, during, and following disruptive events. There are critical capabilities that organizations must build as part of their resilience strategy to help fend off the disruptive events and business impacts identified above:

  1. Preparation
    • Prioritization of critical systems with "best case" disaster recovery plans
    • Articulation and understanding of potential disruptions and clear business strategy with scenario planning
    • Definition of clear baseline benchmarks for critical systems and processes
  2. Reaction
    • Assessment of the extent of compromise or impact and rapid analysis of impact models through comparison to baseline benchmarks
    • Ability to enable emergency measures to respond swiftly and effectively to disruption based on prioritization of critical systems/processes
  3. Recovery
    • Rapid and prioritized recovery to ‘business as usual’ baseline benchmarks
    • Capability to re-engineer impacted processes and understanding of optimal response to enable redistribution of investments

When developed properly, resilience is a strategy that permeates all business functions and should be designed with a broad, enterprise lens. In the coming weeks, we will address the impact of disruptive events on the market share of Life Sciences organizations and the imperative for companies to address resilience through preparation, reaction and recovery.

1 Accenture Strategy Revenue Growth Research, 2017

2 Accenture Technology Vision Research, 2016

3 Accenture Strategy Revenue Growth Research, 2017

4 Ibid

Benjamin Rhee

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Life Sciences

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