Digital Transformation continues to be in focus – but how about culture?

In a pre-COVID 2019 Survey of global pharmaceutical industry professionals, GlobalData reported that less than half of its respondents had a digital strategy in place and 19% had no plans to implement.[1]

Two of the largest barriers hindering digital transformation in pharma, according to industry professionals, was due to organizational and cultural challenges along with technology integration challenges. This is consistent with McKinsey’s findings from 2016. [2] This situation isn’t exclusive to the pharmaceutical industry. Harvard Business Review reported findings from a 2020 survey across multiple sectors that culture was indeed a contributing barrier to digital transformation.[3]

The pandemic, however, has forced us to take a giant step into a digital and virtual world to perform our day-to-day activities and to ensure business continuity. In fact, in a 2021 survey – GlobalData reported that 35% of pharmaceutical industry professionals believe that digital transformation is accelerated in the pharmaceutical industry by more than five years.[4]

Does this mean that our culture has changed? Ask anyone who has had to virtually perform supplier quality audits of companies with paper-based processes; or those who are frustrated by having to trawl through various sources (paper documents, emails, share points etc.) to find due diligence information. They would likely be the first ones to ask for change and feel that a digital transformation couldn’t come soon enough.

However, according to Harvard Business Review’s study – 46% of the surveyed professionals continue to experience culture as a barrier.[5]  This is not surprising given that it can take several years to change an entire organizational culture. As a part of that cultural change, technology must be integrated across all aspects of the business. 89% of the surveyed professionals believe that a successful implementation depends on having a combination of the right culture, the right processes, and the right technology in place.[6]

Peter Drucker coined the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” – clearly that includes digital strategy. Does your pharma organization have the right culture in place to fully embrace digital transformation?

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[1] “Digital Disruption is knocking – is healthcare ready?”, GlobalData Presentation CPhI Worldwide 2019, Bonnie Bain, 2019

[2]https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/life-sciences/our-insights/closing-the-digital-gap-in-pharma,

[3] “Accelerating Transformation for a Post-Covid-19 World”, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2021

[4]https://www.globaldata.com/covid-19-accelerated-digital-transformation-timeline-pharmaceutical-industry/

[5] “Accelerating Transformation for a Post-Covid-19 World”, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2021

[6] Ibid;

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