Was 2020 the year that Life Sciences showed its mettle? It’s certainly been the year that, when faced with an incredible global pandemic, the industry rose to the challenge. That we’re even close to a vaccine for COVID-19 is some form of minor miracle. Part of the reason for this success is the digital transformation the industry has been embarked upon for years. Now, that’s accelerating. So, what will be driving digital transformation for Life Sciences in 2021?
The pandemic has shown us that we need to collaborate with more traditional and non-traditional partners, increase operational efficiencies and enable people with access to work processes and information wherever they are – often far from the office or lab. This trend will continue in 2021 with four areas of particular interest as organizations boost their digital transformation efforts.
The 2020 Digital Transformation and Cloud survey from Baker MacKenzie made for some sobering reading. For healthcare and Life Sciences companies that had completed a digital transformation project, only 15% said that it had been a success with 28% saying it had caused confusion!
However, cloud stood out as the key strategic driver when it comes to digital technology. The survey found that 67% were looking to the cloud for operational efficiencies while 50% were using it to boost customer engagement.
COVID-19 accelerated the move to the cloud. Although we’re still some way off a ‘cloud first’ mentality, Baker MacKenzie found that private cloud was the favored option for Life Sciences companies concerned about the regulated environment. However, expect to see the growth of hybrid cloud and even public cloud implementations as healthcare and Life Sciences organizations look to develop innovative solutions in areas such as telemedicine, which has witnessed extraordinary growth during the pandemic.
If COVID-19 showed anything, it was that collaboration and information sharing are the new name of the Life Sciences game. For example, McKinsey points to new field models based around digital and data as pharma companies, healthcare providers and patients get comfortable with tools that allow much higher levels of service delivery and engagement to be done virtually.
Companies have extended their digital ecosystem with traditional and non-traditional partners to build resilience into their business. Leading pharma companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, have invested heavily with CROs and CMOs to address the pandemic and vaccine development. No doubt, reshoring will continue to dominate conversation about bringing back production especially APIs. Whatever happens, Life Sciences ecosystems will extend in the next 12 months and organizations look to exploit mature ecosystem technology – digital business integration, for example – to find new and better ways to work, collaborate and innovate.
As patients start to take more control over their treatments and health, the Life Sciences industry has to respond by addressing something companies may not have been great at in the past: customer experience (CX). Accenture reports that CX finally came into vogue in the industry in 2020 – something that COVID-19 accelerated with increases in virtual clinical trials, telemedicine, and direct-to-customer capabilities.
The trend is towards digital customer experience that enables the increase in digital services we’ve witnessed in 2020. But we need to think wider when it comes to digital experience. We need to consider the experience that the customer or patient receives and the tools and processes that the employee needs to have in place to meet patient requirements. In 2021, the speed that we will be delivering new digital services to reach out where people live will only increase. This places the emphasis on end-to-end digital experience.
Intelligent Automation has the potential to automate and optimize end-to-end processes, resulting in significantly lower costs, improved performance, increased productivity, and business agility. The combination of digital process automation, AI and machine learning and Content Services can be a game-changer.
All of this has been put under the spotlight during COVID-19. Working at breakneck speed with reduced resources means you need to eliminate as many manual, paper-based processes as humanly possible. In truth, Life Sciences have been behind the automation curve compared with other industries so 2021 is the year Life Sciences will look to tap the potential of intelligent automation.
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