Bringing Mobility into IT Strategy

March 16, 2015
Flexibility of operations and performance agility add new dimension to Pharma IT strategy

Pharma is undergoing tremendous changes on many fronts. Stringent regulatory hurdles, evolving health care programs and faster delivery are putting more pressure on pharmaceutical companies to adapt to new technologies to mitigate the current and future challenges. Increasingly these companies are fine-tuning their IT strategy to build up a seamless operational ecosystem in which transparency in operations becomes key driver for enhanced productivity. As technologies evolve, the pharmaceutical companies look into the latest trends in IT innovation and aspire for bringing them into practice.

As mobile adoption progresses, pharmaceutical companies are leveraging the technology to empower their employees with smart mobile apps to work with greater flexibility. The frontline workers of a company have already experienced the maximum benefits of enterprise mobility. As innovations in mobility space are evolving faster, the transition from a desk-mode job to mobile workers has captured the imagination of pharmaceutical companies. Today, these companies are briskly moving into mobility ecosystem to engage employees with a seamless work culture that never stops after office hour. Even in production, inventory, warehouse, and quality control mobility plays a major role by bringing in flexibility in decision making system.

Today, with the pressing needs of business, the pharmaceutical companies are bracing themselves up for developing seamless technology capability. With disruptive innovations in mobility space, the pharmaceutical companies are ready to integrate mobility into their enterprise solution. Agility of business communication, minimized or zero paperwork, increased employee productivity, augmented operations, improved production control, and data-driven business decisions are the key benefits that compel pharmaceutical companies to “go mobile” at the enterprise operations level.

While mobility becomes priority in IT strategy, the pharmaceutical companies ensure that the mobility strategy gels well with their core enterprise-level applications such as ERP and CRM. Developing a mobility strategy on ERP and CRM can facilitate efficiency in the operations. When mobility enters into the IT strategy, the pharmaceutical companies enhance the process automation, increase the agility of operational workflow, shorten process cycle, and help managers take intelligent decisions faster. For instance, in operations, mobility solution built upon ERP can reduce the time lag in decision making process.

Integrated messaging is an indispensable part of CRM system. With advanced mobile messaging, personalized communication with customers can be more pertinent from a business point of view. Businesses can focus on data driven mobility services on top of CRM. Customer intelligence can be prime driver for the pharmaceutical companies to concentrate on their mobile strategy. Better customer analytics derived from customers’ collective knowledge and understanding can notice a sea-change in the real-time services. Mobility can expand from the organizational silos to seamless customer engagement thereby bringing in more value to the overall customer strategy of a company. With mobility in place, consumer needs can be more predictable. Pharmaceutical companies realize that mobility can drive better customer engagement and deliver powerful insights into customer preferences and can help them deliver better products with faster market turnaround time. Pharmaceutical companies can adopt mobility to devise an integrated approach to drive sales efficiency, improve customer experience, increase productivity and optimize ROI. Mobility on CRM provides huge opportunities for pharmaceutical industry to improve sales and increase productivity. For example, the field forces gather market information and forecast demand based upon direct interaction with doctors, retailers, and distributors, which can provide instant insights to the production staff via a mobile solution.

From drug discovery to manufacturing to distribution of drugs, the pharmaceutical value chain is quite complex. Each stage has its own challenges. Mobility has a great potential to improve the pharmaceutical value chain. Pharmaceutical companies can achieve operational agility and lower operational cost by introducing mobile technologies in enterprise operation. Mobility can “smarten” the decision making process in pharmaceutical business by providing real-time insights. It can improve the productivity on shop floor as well as in the field operations. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer can analyze why a particular drug is selling better in a specific location and not selling in another location by engaging the stakeholders in value chain – distributors, retailers, doctors, and patients – through a mobile application. Similarly, a pharmaceutical manufacturer can compare the performance of two different plants on the fly by connecting the employees via a mobile app integrated with ERP. The information agility can help pharmaceutical companies to take decisions faster and build a collaborative ecosystem to improve operational excellence. Operational excellence brings in competitive advantage to the company.

Traditional business applications inherently carry the limitation of space-time availability, which restricts the companies to leverage the full potential; whereas the enterprise-level next-gen business solutions such CRM and ERP having mobility capabilities can offer a wider platform for pharmaceutical companies to access information anytime, anywhere. Having access to critical business information, executives of different departments can take faster decisions. Most importantly organizations banking on mobile CRM have improved customer relationships. A 360-degree view of customer interactions can lead to superior customer engagement. It’s not only the customer-centricity that drives the benefits, but also the collaboration among employees and other external stakeholders offers a powerful ecosystem for improved visibility across the organization. Similarly, a mobile ERP can allow the stakeholders in extended supply chain to access the real-time information on the fly. An improved visibility can help pharmaceutical companies to take right decisions at the right time.

Whether employees work on a production floor or in field, their performance largely depends on enterprise facilitation. Having enterprise mobility IT strategy, pharmaceutical companies can reduce the information lag across the organization. For example, a problem on production floor can immediately be flagged to the respective stakeholders by production executive. As mobility curtails the accessibility hurdles, an instant response from the responsible authority can be expected. Similarly, in customer service promptness of response has significant impact on the customer experience. According to a report published by Gartner, global CIOs prioritize on mobile CRM to build agility in the system. In the fields of marketing, sales, and customer service, mobile CRM offers the real value to the organizational growth. The level of convenience and portability delivered by mobile CRM is remarkable. With faster decision making opportunity, companies can provide quality services to the customers. Agility builds faster response to customer queries, which in turn develops improved performance.

One of the most untapped segments in pharmaceutical sector where mobility has a big role to play is clinical trial. According to Health Innovation Partners, a digital health consulting firm, mobility can cut down time and money by 50 percent in a clinical trial project. Pfizer’s head of clinical innovation Craig Lipset states that mobility technology has a great potential to transform the clinical trial process that includes patient data management and analysis. Mobile Health (mHealth) applications are pushing further the innovations in clinical trial process. Here is a two way process: the patients who are being monitored get their health information and the clinical trial company receives the critical patient data post trial of drugs. As more and more people are becoming health conscious and eager to know their health information in real-time, the pharmaceutical companies are leveraging this trend for clinical trial process. The emergence of various smart applications in mHealth space enables pharmaceutical companies to engage patients for clinical trials and provide them with information that they would be highly interested to know. At the same time, these applications facilitate clinical investigators to analyze the report faster and give their verdicts on the implication of new drugs.

The success of integrating mobility into IT strategy depends upon how the enterprise-level applications like ERP and CRM are seamlessly unifying various functions in pharmaceutical industry. From decades of experience in implementing ERP and CRM solutions across numerous global pharmaceutical companies, Tectura believes that building a mobility platform along with enterprise-level applications has significant competitive advantages for pharmaceutical companies. Since pharmaceutical companies are facing significant challenges in drug discovery, manufacturing, operations and distribution, it’s the right time to adopt mobility in their enterprise IT strategy to accrue huge benefits.

Chetan Pathak is committed to Tectura’s drive to deliver exceptional and sustained value to clients. He joined Tectura India as corporate operations director in April 2009. With more than 26 years experience in the areas of technology and consulting business, Pathak crafts Tectura’s strategy for business in India, and is the primary decision and policy-maker, setting the tone for company’s values, ethics and culture. He provides complete leadership on strategic and operational issues. Pathak holds a BE degree in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in Marketing Management from Gujrat University.

About the Author

Chetan Pathak | corporate operations director