Research + Perspective

Technology Roadmap 2023 for the Pharma Industry Best of Tech is the flagship research program by Coeus Age aimed at defining the technology road map in multiple industry sectors over the next 12 to 18 months.  Erlanger Best of Tech Talk is a platform for industry thought leaders to share their perspectives to add value to our research.

Coeus Age conducted  Best of Tech Talk 2023 for the Pharma sector in May and June, 2023. The initiative was presented by ETEK INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION.

India is today the largest provider of generic drugs in the world market and is known for its affordable vaccines and generic medications. The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is ranked third in pharmaceutical production by volume after evolving over time into a thriving industry growing at a CAGR of 9.4% since the past nine years (Source – IBEF).

The pharma sector has been facing challenges of ‘Moderating Revenues, Increasing Costs, and Stronger Regulatory Compliance’ over some time. COVID catalyzed this phenomenon further creating a sense of urgency to embrace digital.

The critical imperatives for Pharma Sector to sustain its global leadership are – moving up the value chain by creating innovative IP, enhancing operational efficiency, automating for better compliance, and exploring new growth opportunities by foraying into new age business models.

Coeus Age is pleased to present the Research+Perspectives that were deliberated at the Best of Tech Talks 2023 (Pharma). It covers Coeus Age analyst and five industry thought leaders, leading to an all-rounded discussion. We present the complete discussion here.

Grounded Views by Dr Kapil Dev Singh, CEO, Coeus Age

Figure 1

Dr Singh gave an analyst’s perspective on the technology priorities in Pharma sector for 2023. The baseline research by Coeus Age identified Supply Chain Digitalization, Quality and Compliance Automation, Digital Manufacturing, New Growth Platforms, and Data Management Platforms. Pharma enterprises are also investing their time and efforts in building Change Capacity across levels.

This can be summarized as focus around three areas – growth and innovation, enterprise level data management and exploitation, and operational streamlining (shown in Figure 1)

WoW (Words of Wisdom) by Mr Rohit Raman, India Head, ETEK

Mr Rohit Raman asserted that data management and cyber security are going to be the key priorities for the Pharma enterprises in 2023-24. In fact, they are closely intertwined issues. As Pharma enterprises adopt automation and digitalization, they have to deal with a lot of data.

The critical question is whether they have the right architecture to manage huge volumes of data, mostly without human intervention. They need to address issues of data location, classification, and accessibility. The data needs to be secured from any unlawful infiltration.

The second critical aspect is how critical infrastructures integrate together and how constant vigilance is carried out, which should be ideally aligned with the emerging threat landscape in the external world.

Cyber Security investments must be looked at from the perspective of safeguarding business interests. A platform-based approach is the need of the time as against tools-based approach. It also requires creating constant awareness program among the employees so that any human led mistakes can be avoided. A constant renewal of policies is also critical.

WoW (Words of Wisdom) by Mr Sanjay Nandavadekar, Senior Director – IT, Cipla

Mr Sanjay Nandavadekar presented a holistic view on DX in the #Pharma Enterprises. In this talk, he covered the following –

1. Top five tech priorities for the pharma companies that include undertaking broad-based automation in multiple areas of operations and the supply chain, harnessing the entire data assets in the enterprise, protecting the data and other digital assets of the enterprise, reaching and engaging with the customers/ doctors faster, and managing talent.

2. Key lessons for the Tech leaders – both business and technology leaders must look at areas of maximum leverage with digital, e.g. quality, manufacturing, R&D etc. It will help in audit in big ways. They also represent maximum manpower usage in pharma companies.

If an enterprise wants agility to improve, then work force automation is what they need to address. Educating people on digital must be a priority for them.

Third is getting into an agile supply chain, a hard lesson learnt during the COVID.

3. Ways to handle the #DX challenge- a high-level clarity in terms of long-term strategy is a pre-requisite for a successful DX. If the strategy is not clear, the journey will not be smooth.

People mind set can also be challenging, enterprises need to create right communication and an open environment for exchange of ideas to take place.

Technologies change every five years, hence a long-term view on the technologies that will be leveraged and how they will contribute is a key challenge.

4. Need for thinking #CyberSecurity first – a holistic focus on Cyber Security is a must, both IT and OT. What kind of challenges can legacy OT throw has to be studied and worked upon. Security is of paramount importance given the number of breaches that have happened in this sector. The ROI aspect of security has to be understood from the likely breach and damage it can create.

WoW (Words of Wisdom) by Mr Tushar Zade, CIO & CDO, Aurigene Pharmaceuticals Services Limited

Mr Tushar Zade argued for a horizontal role of Digital across three key objectives – hunting for new customers, nurturing the existing customers for a growing stream of revenue, and organizational productivity. He presented a viewpoint that is application to any company in the pharma sector, and it is not associated with any particular organization. Pharma sector, though a laggard in exploiting Digital, has become quite active in the post COVID scenario. He argued for three critical imperatives for Digital for Pharma companies for 2023-24.

1. Embracing customer centricity (patients, doctors, resellers etc.) and creating new customer engagements, and exploiting the same for creating innovative business models.

2. Moving towards a new data architecture & management, and exploit the clean pool of data available for novel analytics, AI and ML use cases. AI shall gain traction over the next 12 to 18 months.

3. Broad-based automation across the value chain for a seamless and integrated play to emerge at the business process and data level.

Tushar suggests that Pharma sector companies (or for that matter any sector) must design the core architecture keeping in mind the likely scenarios that will become real in the long term. Many of the Pharma companies will feel the need to redraw their enterprise architecture over the next 2 years.

Tushar also argued for embracing a “product as compared to project mindset”. The former is a continuous development paradigm where the business applications evolve with time through agile methods like DevOps and DevSecOps. Pharma CIOs must act as startup owners where expected investment returns can be 10X or more. That’s how the management expectations can be managed, and budgets be obtained.

WoW (Words of Wisdom) by Mr Arun Shakya, GM, Information and Services, Mankind Pharma Limited

Mr Arun Shakya presented the roadmap for IT and Digital in the Pharma Sector for 2023-24. Though Pharma as a sector may be lagging behind, COVID had been a wakeup call. Pharma companies are focusing now on four domains –

1. Enabling sales with automation and information for better field performance and productivity

2. Preparing operations, despite legacy, for digitalization and data leverage,

3. Faster and efficient product development in R&D, and

4. Connecting the supply chain for visibility, efficiency and speed

WoW (Words of Wisdom) by Dr Ravi Sharma, IT Head, Wanbury Limited

Mr Ravi Sharma set four key priorities for the Pharma companies for 2023-24.

1. Enabling the sales force with information that enhances their productivity on the field,

2. Protecting the information with appropriate Cyber Security solutions, especially given the increasing attacks on the pharma companies. He talks about intelligent security products, made intelligent through automation and analytics,

3. Exploring opportunities to deploy AI/ ML use cases across the value chain, and

4. Track and trace across the supply chain

Mr Sharma also asserted that user mindset is the key challenge as digital transformation meets with inertia and gives rise to anxiety. Being aware of the life cycle management of the data till it is discarded is another challenge that will come over time.

In Summary

The research study of large and mid-sized pharma companies’ DX story and the perspectives from tech leaders suggests that pharma enterprises shall be focusing on the following six areas over the next 12 to 18 months.

1.Broad based automation across the value chain to automate both macro and micro processes, embed a data play in them, set the stage for an autonomous play to evolve and a cohesive operating model to emerge over time. This shall also strengthen the enterprise risk and compliance capability.

2. Supply chain integration, the need for which was catalyzed during the pandemic. Agility, visibility, and seamlessness are the critical imperatives for pharma companies now.

3. Better customer engagement driven by digital and new revenue models to address the moderating revenue challenge.

4. Enterprise-wide Data management and exploitation (data collection, collation, and rendering for exploitation across the value chain – this will require revamping or designing a new data architecture). Also identify innovative use cases of data using AI/ ML and Analytics models.

5. Holistic security across IT and OT will be a strong need as digitalization spreads across business and operating systems and data flows across them.

6. Work force management to nurture skills and competencies among employees that keep them updated with changing environment. Building change capacity is a natural need for DX to evolve successfully.

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