AI is the top investment priority for biopharmacy leaders

According to the consultants behind this publication, biopharma executives who pursue digital innovation leapfrog will be in the best position in 2022 to gain an edge over the competition.

To better understand the biopharmaceutical industry’s experience with digital innovation today and in the year to come, the Deloitte team interviewed 150 biopharmaceutical executives and found that digital technologies such as the cloud ( 49%), AI (38%), data lakes (33%), and wearable devices (33%) have been adopted into daily operations.

Other technologies such as quantum computing and digital twins are still emerging.

Some 82% of those polled agreed that the digitization of operations will continue even after the end of the pandemic.

Digital innovation is a burning strategic priority for leaders in biopharmacy, according to Deloitte’s publication. However, respondents agreed that their organizations needed to solve fundamental issues including dedicated funding (59%), a better digital innovation strategy (49%) and the right talent (47%) to drive innovation forward. digital.

Todd Konersmann, director of Deloitte Consulting, told BioPharma-Reporter that while much of the report’s findings validated the team’s assumptions about the growing importance of anything digital, they were surprised at see how the pandemic was an important catalyst in attracting executives’ attention to digital innovation as a competitive differentiator.

As the report illustrates, 77% of respondents now say digital innovation is essential to enable business strategy in a post-pandemic environment. In previous years, investments in new digital technologies were generally treated as opportunities for experimentation or long-term bets. However, given the abundant evidence of digital innovation during the pandemic, it appears that organizations are increasing their perception of the value of these investments. “

AI is the number one investment priority

Another director of Deloitte Consulting, Aditya Kudumala, said the team was also surprised to see that artificial intelligence (AI) was consistently viewed by respondents as a top investment priority in life science functions. .

“We expected more fragmentation of technology priorities based on the intricacies of the field – such as an increased focus on IoT in the supply chain space – but the results indicate that some technologies such as AI become signature issues at the corporate level and therefore take priority along the entire value chain.

The CDMO challenge

CDMO leaders were not interviewed for the report, but Konersmann pointed out that in response to the growing investment in the digitization of biopharmaceutical sponsors, CDMOs will be challenged to match investments in technologies digital and catch up if they are to maintain their value proposition as partners in the efficiency game.

“In particular, they will need to transform their sites and facilities with digital investments in order to deliver the level of productivity that sponsors can achieve with their own next-generation investments, such as the use of smart factory sensors and AI-powered algorithms that can predict maintenance issues. before they appear.

Due diligence

Biopharmaceutical companies today face a plethora of options when it comes to digital technologies. How can they make sure that products are tried and tested before investing in such technology?

“Biopharmaceutical organizations can certainly be overwhelmed with the many types of technologies, vendors and digital platforms that will require their due diligence before making significant investments. These organizations can mitigate their risks by looking to the external market for evidence, such as industry consortia / working groups that actively experiment with new technologies and develop standards that will help increase adoption and ensure the longevity of investments ”, Kudumala said.

He advised companies to develop a methodical process to research and incubate new technologies through proof of concepts and pilots to assess incremental value against costs.

“At the same time, one of the points made in the report is that organizations that take risks before new technologies are fully tested and tested can also gain a competitive advantage by gaining knowledge faster, by learning from their mistakes and focusing on the key. opportunities best suited to technology ”,noted the consultant.

Attract talent

Building a digital transition team and hiring the right talent to drive digital innovation forward can be difficult for leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry, given that there is huge competition for this type of business. talent.

According to Kudumala, as the scarcity of technological talent affects all industries around the world, the biopharmaceutical industry can leverage its collective mission to deliver life-saving treatments to humanity as a unique value proposition to attract expertise. .

“Engineers and technical talent in the market must be aware that the medical innovations of the future will not only be carried out by chemists and other scientists, but rather will be supported by technologists who will play a vital role in accelerating the marketing. and the safety of new therapies.

To build a digital team, the Deloitte report recommends that organizations start by defining their “nord start” digital ambitions, followed by the operational model needed to realize those ambitions and the associated talents / roles required.

“In addition, technology leaders (CIOs and direct reports) can play a major role in attracting and hiring the right talent by articulating these northern stars and the impact that a given role will have on the company’s ability to improve. patient outcomes and well-being. The CIOs that I see who visibly come out in front of this, enlisting their teams to tell their stories / journeys, often see the best results ”,Konersmann said.

Room for growth

To what extent do you see biopharmaceutical companies already adopting the strategies mentioned in the report to drive enterprise-wide digital transformation, such as becoming digital innovators, using crowdsourcing, investing in start-ups, accelerating and incubate new technologies?

“Overall, we observe that the majority of biopharmaceutical organizations are executing digital innovation strategies focused on specific domains, technologies or process areas, but very few are implementing a holistic enterprise level strategy. .

“Some organizations seek tailor-made innovations in specific areas through targeted investments such as innovative drug discovery, others focus on developing reproducible processes that can incubate digital experiments at scale, while even some organizations focus solely on outsourcing innovation through partnerships with organizations that run crowd-based design challenges / contests.

“As evidenced by the report, only 45% of those questioned say that their organization has set up a center of excellence in innovation, which indicates to us that there is an important place for growth and maturation,“commented Konersmann.

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