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Eight months ago, few in the pharmaceutical industry would’ve predicted they’d be swapping the laboratory for the kitchen table or home-schooling children in between conference calls. Within a few days of the world being plunged into a pandemic countless businesses - in every sector - were thrown into a spin as thousands of their employees began working from home and doing those much more than their daily responsibilities.
In the pharmaceutical sector, the focus turned toward the impact to R&D and clinical trials and how to manage call centers in this new mode. This proved extremely challenging as many of the processes now run partly outside of the laboratory environment, increasing the security risk to intellectual property especially with hackers taking advantage of the pandemic indicated by 60% of malicious email traffic targets home workers in May 2020 as opposed to 12% in March 2020.
As we seek to emerge from the situation in the future, the long-term impacts on the global economy are beginning to be felt. A recent survey revealed 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. We have to ask ourselves, what’s the role of the digital workplace transformation in this new landscape? And how will Pharma and healthcare companies, R&D and regulatory bodies adjust to the new norm?
Quite simply, COVID-19has deleted the ’standard way’ the pharmaceutical industry worked in the past. Everything is different from here on. Much of the workforce is working at home. There’s limited international travel. Is there a need for the same number and size of large, shiny corporate offices/campuses, and the exponential cost of a highvalue zip code? What will R&D facilities and innovation of the future look like?
Pharmaceuticals are starting to think about how they can turn the sudden changes they’ve made to their businesses into opportunities. New plans are being written and costs reallocated away from office leases and real estate. They see remote working can truly work and employees can be trusted to manage their time and responsibilities properly and productively with limited slip ups (save for the occasional Pajama Day). Why would they go back to the old way? The critical consideration is weighing the advantages of collaboration and innovation in a physical environment versus a virtual environment.
By deploying technology focused on research, production and distribution, as well as embracing virtual clinical trials, the Pharma and healthcare sector will leverage AI and IoT to build much richer collaborative and intimate ways of working. As a result, they need to enable the entire organization to collaborate across teams and vast distances at scale and speed to enhance knowledge and sharing by connecting the laboratory environment.
They can achieve this by transforming multiple technologies, legacy systems, and varied infrastructure to create a single, seamless, secure global ecosystem that optimizes the entire drug development cycle. These technologies connect smoothly and securely to collaboration applications and any 3rd party platforms they may be considering for big data, AI and digital logistics. It is crucial they protect their network and corporate assets to help secure the lab environments and their connected supply chain.
One of the major keys to success is actively helping their people make the most of collaboration and digital services. Adoption management must make sure each member of the workforce gets the tools they need to be as productive as possible. As research shows, many employees already have 6-8 collaboration tools but fail to understand how to use them with maximum effectiveness. The training needed to use them effectively is incumbent upon the organization.
If Pharma and healthcare corporations tackle those aspects successfully, collaboration across the entire value chain process will allow all companies in the sector to reap the rewards of digital transformation: increased productivity, reduced costs, greater operational agility and more effective use of resources – both material and human while, above all, maintaining the innovation which separates them from the competition.