BearingPoint study reveals a lack of digital talent is the biggest challenge for pharmaceutical companies

Frankfurt, October 20, 2015 – Digitalization is quickly pushing its roots ever deeper into society and transforming industries and business models. However, digitalization has not penetrated the pharmaceutical industry as deeply as most would have expected. Companies need time to realize the benefits of digitalization, and they need time to implement digital processes and solutions. A lack of digital talent and effective processes and IT architectures, resistance by employees and legal regulations and red tape represent the main challenges for digitalization in the pharmaceutical industry. These are the findings of a recent study conducted by management and technology consultancy BearingPoint. The study surveyed 106 industry experts and provides a current snapshot of digitalization in various functional areas of the pharmaceutical industry and points out how companies can better exploit the benefits of digital innovations over the long term.

Digitalization in the pharmaceutical industry is mainly a cultural shift, with new ways of cooperating, more effective and intensive knowledge management, and increasing the amount of innovation bundled together. This transformation is not possible without risks, but taking the next steps for digitalization of the sector is essential in order to meet rising customer expectations and to maintain competitiveness. This is a long-term process, however, and it’s going to shape the future of the pharmaceutical industry.

Ralf Dillmann, Partner Life Science at BearingPoint

Lack of digital maturity in supply chain management

According to the study, different business areas within pharmaceutical companies have seen varied levels of digital development, but overall there is clearly a need for action: only 35 percent of respondents said that their daily work is influenced by digital innovations. Furthermore, only about 38 percent of companies use digital tools such as cloud, big data or crowd technologies. Research and development is the pioneer here, with 69 percent already using digital tools, while only 36 percent in the area of Supply Chain Management are using available innovations.

The development of new, modern business models and strategic alliances, the active promotion of innovation processes and the design and implementation of streamlined and flexible structures are the most important goals for digital within the pharmaceutical industry. To get there, however, many challenges need to be overcome. Digital innovations will see strong growth in the near future according to the study. Two-thirds of respondents believe that digital innovation will affect their everyday work within the next three years. The use of digital tools is seen increasing significantly especially in supply chain management, where the use of digital tools will make it possible to develop and implement accurate and flexible supplier models.

Challenges for pharmaceutical companies in the digital era

The pharmaceutical industry urgently needs employees with extensive IT knowledge, creativity and affinity for new technologies and innovative thinking. 76 percent of respondents identified a lack of digital talent as the main challenge in the transformation process. Professional staff development with extensive training programs and the promotion of knowledge exchange is a key success factor.

Outdated business processes and models need to be converted into lean and flexible structures. Data protection, including securing customer data, is only one of many important points. A key challenge is to create IT architectures that are flexible and agile, are able to respond quickly to market changes and innovations (Fast IT), yet maintain the stability of traditional IT management (Core IT).

106 industry experts were interviewed about their experiences and expectations of digitalization in the pharmaceutical industry. 42 percent of the worldwide participants are employed by companies with a turnover of over 20 billion euro. The overall study results can be found here:
Digitalization: Are you prepared to balance the market power between customers, suppliers and competitors?

About BearingPoint

BearingPoint consultants understand that the world of business changes constantly and that the resulting complexities demand intelligent and adaptive solutions. Our clients, whether in commercial or financial industries or in government, experience real results when they work with us. We combine industry, operational and technology skills with relevant proprietary and other assets in order to tailor solutions for each client’s individual challenges. This adaptive approach is at the heart of our culture and has led to long-standing relationships with many of the world’s leading companies and organizations. Our global consulting network of 9,700 people serves clients in more than 70 countries and engages with them for measurable results and long-lasting success.

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