How to Embrace Digital Transformation in Life Sciences

Nov 8, 2021 | Computer System Validation, Digital Transformation, Resources

Interview with Umran Turker, Digital Transformation expert and Chief Commercial Officer of Arithmos

We spoke to Umran Turker, a seasoned leader with a strong track record in Digital Transformation, innovation, and sales, about how Life Sciences businesses can embrace Digital Transformation effectively and fully harness its power.

Hello Umran, thank you for joining us today. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?

I am an Industrial Engineer, having approximately 20 years of experience in IT. As part of system integrator companies, I had the opportunity to lead multiple large-scale Business Transformation and IT projects among diversified industries such as telco, energy & utilities, retail, automotive, and Life Sciences.

Analytics and AI-powered applications are now generating a completely new context that is incredibly progressive and complex. I am not talking only about technology, but also about data privacy, data protection, data processing, and constitutional rights. For the last couple of years, I have been interested in expanding my view on technology.

That is why very recently I had carried out an academic study on analytics and AI applications within the GDPR framework as part of my Master’s in Law Degree. I think the demand for the knowledge of personal data privacy and data processing will be rapidly increasing in the Life Sciences industry due to the nature of how technology evolves and progresses in that area.

In the last years we have been talking about Digital Transformation a lot. How would you define it?

I strongly believe that it is the transformation of the business itself. Technology enables us to scale our capabilities rapidly and pushes us to an edge. We start questioning what we do and how we do it.

Digital Transformation affects every aspect of the business, including the unique value offering. Emerging technologies and the market demand trends force Life Sciences companies to pursue a perpetual change management model which is at the core of their business.  

Which technology do you think will create the biggest shift in the Life Sciences industry?

5G enhanced mobile broadband and analytics will be the driver of the revolution in the health industry. However, the major challenges of establishing a big-data environment will be data security, data governance, and data policies.

Data strategies will have a great impact on the use of deep learning and AI. They will provide decision-making support systems and predictive analysis that will transform Life Sciences on multiple levels:

  • increase the diagnosis and treatment accuracy
  • facilitate preventive care
  • increase efficiency in patient-doctor reception
  • facilitate health services resource planning
  • optimize pharmaceutical and medical stuff supply

How can Life Sciences companies ensure convergence between IT and Business Projects?

The Life Sciences industry is undergoing a transformation from “Medical Response” to “Predictive and Preventive Health Care”.

During this progress, achieving a solid convergency between business and IT creates the innovation ground, and that extraordinary capacity helps the organizations exceed the expectations. However, obtaining the convergency is not easy. In order to achieve it, Life Science companies need to focus on a lot of things:

  • developing the skills of their people
  • Supporting sector experts and encouraging the diversification of their skills sets
  • Simultaneously support the improvement of their specialization areas.

Life Sciences companies need to ensure that the convergence starts with the new engagement models that will create a common language for the different business units. In this way, better-engaged people and enriched know-how coming from the diversity of specializations will provide a self-governance model.

What are the three major ways in which strong Digital Transformation strategy can benefit companies?

The first one is accepting that every IT project is a business project. The business leaders in the organizations shall be encouraged to lead IT projects and vice versa. This approach will foster the convergence between IT and business.

The second way is based on the idea of “you may not be an IT company, but for sure one day an IT company will challenge you in your own industry”. Life Sciences companies will benefit a lot from establishing close relations with IT companies, helping them develop business skills, and involving them to their transformation journey as a stakeholder.

The third one is that the companies shall be bold with their organizational decisions. The versatility of the talent profiles and diversified backgrounds, experiences, skills, and perspectives will be helpful for the companies when it comes to developing their leaders.

What are the reasons that can make companies reluctant to embrace Digital Transformation and stick to the old ways?

We are in the Cloud era. Technology is available and affordable for all companies of any size all over the world.

The top list of Fortune 100 changes rapidly – in a couple of years any start-up may climb to the top of the list while a huge and long-standing giant may fade away.

I believe that three main risks that would make the companies reluctant to embrace Digital Transformation are:

  • their considerable size of the existing business which makes them disproportionately risk-adverse
  • habits rooted in their long history that make them resistant to change
  • financial performance itself which gives confidence and confines them into a comfort zone. 

Where should companies begin with building Digital Transformation strategy?

That is the very first challenge for most companies when they decide to take an action. Unfortunately, the very common mistake is deciding to change when it is a bit late.

When a company decided to approach Digital Transformation, it should start with understanding the major streams in the industry, where the market goes, and where they position themselves in that new market environment. That exercise will help them to name the “to be” target.

In the second step, they need to make a self-assessment evaluating their existing capacity in technology, processes, organization, customers, governance, and people assets. That exercise will help them to define the “current status”.

The rest is establishing a project plan and a governance model to depart from “current status” and head towards the “to be” target.

There is a lot of resistance to technology in the industry. How can companies reduce this resistance?

They need effective leadership for a sustainable and consistent transformation journey. Perception of the change by the people in the organization affects the adoption of the new technologies and processes and comes along with that change.

The alignment of the people on the acquired new technology is another critical checkpoint. Starting from the leaders, the inclusion and empowerment of each and every person in the organization will eventually crack the resistance and bring in a great deal of contribution.

What are the main points a Life Sciences company needs to keep in mind while planning to introduce new technology in its ecosystem?

A true transformation can be performed as long as all the constituent parts are involved in this journey. The transformation will demand rebuilding:

  • re-defining of how the organization will work
  • re-engineering of how the processes will flow
  • how the company will be fully integrated with the eco-system.

Involvement of the ecosystem from the very beginning can help to avoid creating new barriers between the stakeholders. Companies shall bear in mind the importance of the empowerment of end-to-end integrated flows among the stakeholders in the ecosystem and focus on the required technology capacity at the same time. 

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