Digital Transformation in Pharma: Challenges and Enablers

Nov 6, 2020 | News

Digital Transformation is a transformation of all the activities, processes and competencies in a way that allows us to harness the advantages of new digital technologies. Right now, pharmaceutical companies face a difficult choice: either evolve with the new era by building a digital organisation or risk becoming less competitive on the market as they fail to embrace the change.

On October 21, we hosted a complimentary webinar titled “Digital Transformation in Pharma: Challenges and Enablers”. In this webinar we discussed the challenges that pharmaceutical companies face on the road to digital success and how to overcome them.

Continue reading to learn about enabling Digital Transformation in pharmaceutical industry.

Register now to get free access to webinar recording

What is Digital Transformation, and Why Does it Matter?

Digital Transformation is a transformation of all the activities, processes and competencies in a way that allows us to harness the advantages of new digital technologies.

Regardless of the industry, digital transformation comes with a number of benefits including:

  • Optimisation of business operations
  • Access of the global markets
  • Elimination of the departmental silos
  • Smarter resource management
  • Greater customer centricity
  • Improved decision making based on access to a great volume of information

Pharma companies recognise that digital transformation will have a disruptive impact on healthcare. However, only 10% base their strategic decisions on clear understanding of how it can become their competitive advantage and change their business model in the future.

*Retrieved from McKinsey


Pharmaceutical companies face number of challenges when it comes to Digital Transformation and implementation of new technologies. The most common ones are:

  • Difficulties in removing organisational silos which prevents pharma companies from embracing the full potential of digital transformation
  • Their digital transformation strategy is not founded on real knowledge of how to maximise business benefits
  • Lack of clarity in the current regulations regarding the use of technology


The process of delivering effective digital transformation and overcoming the related challenges is based on three fundamental elements, enablers – the resources that the company will use to create the digital culture:

  • Digital strategy: direction in which the company is moving
  • Business model: how the Digital Transformation fits the company’s activities
  • Management: how the company will manage the change to achieve the goal

Successful Life Sciences companies will have an integrated digital strategy that breaks down the silo mentality and that can integrate internal and external processes in a seamless manner

The Enablers: Business Analyst

For pharmaceutical companies, building of Digital Transformation strategy starts with identifying the goal and the scope of the project. The result of the analysis will serve as a basis for the decision on introduction of new technology solutions and processes.

Such approach puts Business Analysts at the center of the Digital Transformation project, making them key figures in the preparation stage and indispensable prerequisite for success.

These agile professionals formulate the needs of a pharmaceutical company, identify possible digital solutions, and deliver data-driven recommendations for the strategy. They identify which elements of Digital Transformation are technologically feasible and financially and functionally reasonable.

Digital Transformation means not only introducing new technologies, but also harnessing existing ones more effectively.

The Enablers: Steering Committee

When it comes to technology project in a pharmaceutical company, a steering committee is another key success factor. Not only does it provide a high-level strategy that covers budget, resources and company dynamics, but it also resolves any challenges in a timely and efficient manner.

A steering committee is made up of the Digital Transformation project stakeholders and is particularly vital for digital projects in small and medium pharmaceutical companies where IT and digital focused roles like CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) normally do not exist.

 The advantages of steering committee include:

  • Ensuring that all the interests are considered
  • Responding in an organised and timely manner to any challenges

The Enablers: The Change Management

The success of Digital Transformation project heavily depends on the effectiveness of change management strategies of the pharmaceutical company.

The change management process focuses on implementing a change, a transformation that improves and amplifies the company’s potential to achieve its objectives in the most efficient manner. Successful change management involves the employees, which means that Digital Transformation should be done with them, and not for them.

Change management is conducted parallel to the project management activities and ensures that Digital Transformation is implemented seamlessly at all levels of the organisation.

The Change Manager/ Coach plays a key role in:

  • supporting the growth of awareness about the need for change and building the motivation in the employees to participate and support change
  • assisting the acquisition of the required skills and develop the right behaviour
  • supporting the change


We have outlined three enables that we believe are the key factors for a successful creation and implementation of Digital Transformation strategy in pharmaceutical companies. For them, successful Digital Transformation starts with understanding how their businesses are affected by the ongoing digital changes, and then building their own course in accordance with the analysis.

To support a seamless Digital Transformation process and fully exploit the potential of corporate digitalisation, it is vital to:

  • Execute a detailed elicitation phase
  • Simplify the process, language and maintain a positive attitude, maintaining a strategic orientation
  • Define a scalable strategy maintaining a strategic orientation. Create multi-level communication channels using the steering committee as a supporting tool
  • Include change management / coaching activities to support the acquisition of awareness of the need for change and the motivation to participate and support change

Leveraging these tools will allow pharmaceutical companies to harness Digital Transformation successfully, optimise their processes and deliver their therapeutic solutions to the patients in a more efficient manner.

Register now to get free access to the recording of the webinar “Digital Transformation in Pharma: Challenges and Enablers”

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