August 10, 2018
Unlocking the power of digital: An action plan for pharmaceutical manufacturers
By: Anne Marie O’Halloran

It’s a digital world, and pharmaceutical manufacturers recognize that digital technology adoption and innovation are essential for driving growth. In Accenture’s global research study of 931 senior executives, 90 percent agreed that the key to delivering higher operational efficiency and hyper-personalized experiences is innovation with connected and intelligent technologies.

Despite this widespread acknowledgement that digital is key, only 40 percent of pharmaceutical company leaders believe their businesses and operations are ready to innovate with connected and intelligent technologies, and most are skeptical that they will be ready within the next 3 years.

Fortunately, Industry X.0 offers a path forward for pharmaceutical manufacturers to take advantage of digital capabilities. According to Accenture’s Eric Schaeffer, in his book, Industry X.0: Realizing Digital Value in Industrial Sectors, life sciences companies that embrace the new connected industrial workforce, digital product development, data analytics, and platforms and ecosystems, will be positioned for competitive advantage, profit and growth.

However, life sciences executives see a number of obstacles in their way, including:

High cost of digital tech obsolescence: 33%. Insufficient data security and trust: 32%. Shortage of digital skills, unable to leverage tech combinations, unable to draw on innovative ideas within the ecosystem: 28%

What’s interesting to me is the even representation across the top obstacles. None stand out as being significantly more challenging for companies to address than the others. On the positive side, life sciences executives surveyed are on board with adopting digital technologies. In other industries, poor support from top leadership is cited as a top five obstacle, but that’s not the case in life sciences—an encouraging sign that executives are willing to take steps to endorse Industry X.0 and adopt new operating models, production and value chains to create more value with digital.

To reinvent their business with Industry X.0 and meet these challenges proactively, Accenture recommends pharma companies build six core capabilities:

  • Transform the core. Digitize and integrate manufacturing, supply chain, quality and commercialization for new efficiencies.
  • Build the workforce. Source, enable, enrich and upskill talent with digitally native capabilities. the digital natives.
  • Innovate new business models. Drive new revenue streams from smarter products and services, including combination products and companion apps, for new sources of value.
  • Manage the wise pivot. Continually balance investment and resource allocation between the core business & operations and the new.
  • Focus on experiences and outcomes. Create patient value to differentiate and lead in the market.
  • Re-architect the new ecosystem. Assemble and refresh the right partners to drive new innovation and new capabilities.

Industry leaders are already moving ahead of their competitors in several of these capabilities.

Sanofi, for example, has invested $5.5 billion in building digital plant capabilities, including robot coworkers, augmented reality for technicians on the shop-floor and a digital twin to simulate future scenarios. And in its facilities in Geel (Belgium) and Framingham (Massachusetts, United States), the company has installed sensors across its production process—sensors that generate over one billion data points in each manufacturing cycle—enabling it to maintain high yields and perform predictive maintenance.

Novartis is another company embracing Industry X.0 capabilities. In late 2016, the company partnered with Vodacom and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health to launch a mobile healthcare platform in Nigeria. SMS for Life 2.0 is a Roll Back Malaria Partnership initiative that allows public healthcare facilities to monitor stock levels of essential medicines such as antimalarials, HIV treatments and vaccines, with the potential to extend it to treatments against noncommunicable diseases.

Building these six competencies and adopting the Industry X.0 principles and practices will enable pharmaceutical manufacturers and other life sciences companies to future-proof their business and unlock significant financial gains.

If you’d like to learn more about our research, read Industry X.0 for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers: Unlocking the power of digital.

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