Post-Pomp Pharma

Educated and excited about digital transformation, pharma now needs a digital life plan

By Karen Langhauser, Chief Content Director

I often wonder if the 72 million Americans with college degrees share similar feelings of nostalgia when they hear the “Pomp and Circumstance” march. For me, it still conjures up overwhelming excitement for what the future could hold. I was free and I was ready - and I could do anything. Step one of “anything,” of course, involved drinking a whole bunch of beers. This was unfortunately followed by step two, which was the sobering realization that beyond the fact that I was ready to conquer the world, I actually didn’t have much of a plan.

Avenica, a national career matchmaking firm, conducted a survey last year of entry-level job seekers. The survey revealed that awareness and guidance, not skill or motivation, is most lacking. Grads don’t know what to do with their major and don’t know what positions are a fit. So despite the need for tech skills prompting many employers to increase entry-level hires, many new grads are simply unaware of these opportunities.
 
This month, as I looked through the results of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’s first ever “Smart Pharma” survey, I was happy to see that when it comes to digital transformation, pharma is inspired. There’s an understanding and acceptance of IIoT and digitalization coming from all different categories of readers.
 
I’ll admit, I was skeptical prior to deploying the survey. When it comes to pharma manufacturing, there is a constant picture being painted of an industry still bemoaning the fall of the blockbuster era, handcuffed by regulations and unwilling to embrace technology.
 
When I attended Putman Media’s annual Smart Industry event earlier this fall — which spans across all manufacturing and processing industries — I was prepared to be overwhelmed by the pace of digital transformation in other industries. And while I was most certainly impressed (and how could I not be after success stories from companies such as Navistar, Caterpillar and Exelon), I also did not walk away thinking all was lost in terms of pharma manufacturing’s digital journey.
 
As you will read in this month’s cover story, pharma has reached a “digital crossroads.” Like a bright-eyed recent graduate, pharma is standing on the stage, armed with the tools and the enthusiasm - but simply can’t continue its digital transformation journey without a tactical plan.
 
Smart vendors are heeding the call, and helping manufacturers properly assess where they stand in order to devise digital transformation strategies. Helping manufacturers to choose initial applications that deliver measurable value will stimulate company-wide buy-in, allowing pharma to build digital momentum.
 
The first time “Pomp and Circumstance” was played as a processional march was in 1905 at Yale University. For more than 100 years now, graduates-to-be have filed into arenas and stadiums to the tune of the same march. And out of those lines of students have come hundreds of thousands of people who have gone on to effect measurable change in the world. Pharma’s next steps are equally important, as they will determine its ability to thrive in the era of digital transformation.

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