5 Success factors for effective digital transformation in Pharma

Digitalization is a key trend in healthcare which is going to reshape and disrupt existing business models.

Günter Kloucek
Günter Kloucek
Prior to consulting, Günter was the General Manager of Takeda Germany
4 minutes
29 January, 2020

Digitalization is a key trend in healthcare which is going to reshape and disrupt existing business models. New health information technology provides real time access to health data and advanced analytics for processing an enormous amount of data, enables new forms of diagnostics, treatment and monitoring to personalize care, drives consumerization of healthcare and attracts new, disruptive entrants from outside the industry. If you have heard the call for business model innovation, consider the following for your transformation to succeed.

1. Anticipate cultural hurdles

Change is a challenge for any organization. Especially in digitalization there is a key barrier – the concern of employees of losing relevance in their jobs or even being made redundant. Therefore, try to take your employees on the transformation journey with you by explaining the importance and benefits of digitalization for your company, your customers and their personal development with a compelling case for change story. Train them how to combine their expertise with digital technologies to improve the customer experience. Facilitate, track and reinforce adoption of digital activities. We believe education is key to increase familiarity and confidence with digital technology. This can range from dedicated trainings for specific functions with fit-for-purpose digital content to more generic education programs about key trends like AI for the whole company staff.

2. Encourage interdisciplinary collaboration

Joint efforts are needed to make the transformation a success. Bring digital experts and operational leaders together in cross-functional teams and equip them with clearly defined resources and decision-making rights. As digital is an enabler of the business strategy, the business needs to own and lead the projects. Ensure that legal and compliance functions are on board early on to help with ethical, regulatory and legal questions as part of a holistic strategy.  Do not forget to lead by example: Establish a governing sponsor team of senior business, IT and analytics leaders with shared accountability for the successful transformation. Senior sponsorship is key for the success of a digital agenda.

3. Take it step-by-step

Start by running a few lighthouse initiatives, that are highly visible and linked to a concrete business need to build momentum, provide tangible examples and secure early wins. Continue to create an environment for collaborative experimentation with quick “test & learn” cycles and foster cross functional teamwork. Communicate openly and widely, scale up what works and build an appropriate organization. Consider maturity of digital capabilities, innovation need and business model complexity to find the right balance between a centralized and a decentralized approach for placing expertise, talent and funding. Adapt the approach according to the transformation progress.

4. Prioritize and focus on the right initiatives

You cannot do everything at once. Watch industry trends closely to guide prioritization based on opportunities and threats in the sector. Focus on areas where the greatest potential benefit for the customers can be achieved. Develop a portfolio of initiatives with different time horizons for prioritization and visible progress. Celebrate significant milestones and results to keep the team motivated.

5. Budget appropriately for integration and adoption, not just for technology

What sounds trivial is often forgotten or underestimated: Ensure adequate funding for workflow redesign, communication activities, capability building, and all the other measures that are necessary for the successful integration of new technologies and ways of working. Educate everyone and ensure that the entire organization understands the principle ideas behind digital technologies such as AI and others.



The possibilities of digitalization for pharmaceutical companies are manifold and exciting: from enhanced R&D productivity, better value demonstration and improved decision making based on data to richer engagement with healthcare professionals and patients as well as delivery of personalized care, just to name a few. Only those who start embarking on a transformation process today will be able to successfully assert their position in the health care market in the future.


About the Authors

Günter Kloucek is a Director at OXYGY. Prior to consulting, Günter was the General Manager of Takeda Germany. He has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and held operating company responsibility as well as led corporate functions including business strategy.

Malte Wagner is a Senior Consultant at OXYGY and digital transformation expert. Before he has worked for more than 10 years as a consultant and project manager for digital and communication agencies in the areas of digitalization, social media and public relations.



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