As per the Annual Technology Vision Trends Report, 83% organisations 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.
Speaking at the Dataquest webinar on ‘Technology Vision for Life Sciences’, Aggarwal 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.”
Moderna developed a vaccine at an unprecedented speed in a drug design studio powered by cloud, AI, and convolutional neural networks paired with scientists.
— Ankur Aggarwal, Managing Director – Technology, Accenture India
Rapid drug discovery, overcoming raw material shortage, vaccine development expectations – how did the industry perform and what did it learn in the pressure?
— Anil Chopra, VP, Research & Consulting, CMR
Yes, pharma companies have been in the spotlight like never before in the last two years. But for them, the spotlight was on technology. The way in which and the place where they invest in technology are going through a visceral change.
There are some key trends that can help pharma companies shape their future. “Technology architecture is becoming critical to these organisations. 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, and 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 the cloud at its core. That’s why 77% of pharma companies see business and technology strategies as inseparable now.”
The responsiveness of a supply chain got accentuated during COVID-19. Similarly, clinical trials started getting done in a distributed and hybrid model.
— Atanu Roy, Group CIO, Biocon
COVID-19 vaccine is a brilliant example of how many countries successfully completed development and trials under 12 months – a process of 10-12 years before.
— Gyan Pandey, Global and Group CIO, Aurobindo Pharma
Almost 70% organisations expect their investment in intelligent digital twins to increase in the next three years. In fact, 40% are already using digital twins for innovation. About 87% find digital twins essential to their organisation’s ability to collaborate in strategic ecosystem partnerships. Think of a 3D model of a patient, a virtual heart, and whatnot.
Additionally, democratisation of technology is gaining fluency. There is a thrust on collaboration too. This is necessary as about 70% of companies have faced moderate to complete supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.
Moderator Anil Chopra, VP, Research and Consulting, CMR, asked CIOs of leading pharma companies what their views and experiences 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, 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 was played by analytics. The responsiveness of a supply chain got accentuated during the COVID-19 phase. Similarly, clinical trials that were done in a particular way earlier started getting done in a distributed and hybrid model.”
We are generating explosive data today. Companies in the finance and CPG sectors are already using data in the right way. In pharma, this is a little new.
— Anjani Kumar, CIO, Strides Pharma
The thought process towards technology for quality, efficiency, excellence, and compliance is changing, seconded Gyan Pandey, Global and 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 leveraged collaboration and remote infrastructure in a significant way. Cybersecurity due to the 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 of many digital interfaces is still at a nascent stage. The COVID-19 vaccine is a brilliant example of how various countries have successfully completed a phase of development and trials in less than 12 months. It was a process of 10 to 12 years before. That’s remarkable.”
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 organisation today. Companies in the finance and CPG sectors 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 anytime 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. It is becoming a core organ for enterprises. An organ that never sleeps – just like the data it breathes on.
By Pratima Harigunani