Needle moves towards digital twins, cloud, and AI in a big way

At the Dataquest webinar on Technology Vision for Life Sciences, the experts said the needle is moving towards digital twins, cloud, and AI in a big way.

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As per the Annual Technology Vision Trends Report, 83% are accelerating transformation, 99% are ranking the pandemic as an unprecedented stress test, and 100% are innovating with a call to action. Laggards must really catch up or they will be left behind, unraveled Ankur Aggarwal, MD, Technology, Accenture India.

Ankur Aggarwal

Speaking at the Dataquest webinar on Technology Vision for Life Sciences, he stressed that “It is a once-in-a-generation re-platforming opportunity. The window to do so is very small. Leaders will leap forward over laggards.”

Yes, pharma companies were in a spotlight like never before in the last two years. But for them the spotlight was on technology. The way and the place where they invest in technology are going through a visceral change.


There are five key trends that can help pharma companies to shape their future. “Technology architecture is becoming critical to their organizations. The exponential growth and availability of technologies is igniting an era of business. Now industry competition is actually a competition of technology stacks. We have seen how Moderna came up with a vaccine in a swift way. The team had a drug design studio powered by cloud, AI, convolutional neural networks paired with scientists to operate at an unprecedented speed. To be agile and resilient, pharma companies need to fast-forward digital transformation with Cloud at its core.  That’s why 77% pharma companies see business and technology strategies as inseparable now.”

Almost 70% organizations expect their investment in intelligent digital twins to increase in the next three years. In fact, 40 per cent are already using digital twins for innovation. About 87% find digital twins as essential to their organisation’s ability to collaborate in strategic ecosystem partnerships. Think of a 3D model of a patient, a virtual heart and what not.

Also, democratization of technology is gaining fluency. There is a thrust on collaboration too. About 70% companies faced moderate to complete supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.

anil chopra

Moderator Anil Chopra, VP, Research and Consulting, CMR asked some CIOs what their view and experience are on these trends and tech imperatives. Rapid drug discovery, overcoming shortages of raw material, vaccine development expectations – there was so much pressure and expectation – how did the industry perform and what did it learn?

Atanu Roy Biocon

Atanu Roy, Group CIO, Biocon explained the aspect of demand-supply flux. “How to extract more capacity during a drug demand was a challenge. That’s where a significant role is played by analytics. The responsiveness of a supply chain got accentuated during the Covid phase. Similarly, clinical trials that were done in a particular way started getting done in a distributed and hybrid model.”


The thought process towards technology for quality, efficiency, excellence and compliance is changing, seconded Gyan Pandey, Group CIO, Aurobindo Pharma. “As to supply chains, in India we depend heavily on imports. The whole API manufacturing took some internal evaluation. Apart from external customer engagement, the industry leverages collaboration and remote infrastructure in a significant way. Cybersecurity due to opening of VPN etc. for new applications in a remote landscape was a new challenge. So doing clinical trials with speed and with a distributed model, with different compliance mandates was also a challenge. The adoption for many digital interfaces is still at a nascent stage. The Covid vaccine is a brilliant example of how various countries have successfully completed a phase of development and trials in under 12 months. It was a process of 10 to 12 years before. That’s remarkable.”

anjani kumar

Anjani Kumar, CIO, Strides Pharma echoed that change and specifically applauded the aspect of real-time data in this process. “Data never sleeps. We are generating explosive data in any organization today. Companies in Finance and CPG are already using data in the right way. In pharma, this is a little new. We are learning and exploring technology. How to generate data? What’s the objective of this data? How to bring supply-chain resilience? How to achieve any-time readiness? How to accelerate research and development? How to recruit the right patients for clinical trials? Now analytics, AI and many other technologies are helping with precision in segmentation.”

Technology is turning into something more than a haphazard transplant for this industry now. It is becoming a core organ for these enterprises. An organ that never sleeps – just like the data it breathes on.

By Pratima Harigunani