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Study finds biopharma companies seek digital transformation, but most are lagging
Fourth annual digital business global executive survey reveals cultural, leadership and funding challenges that must be addressed

While many biotech and pharmaceutical companies seek the many competitive advantages that come with digitally transforming their businesses, few biopharma leaders say they have made the changes necessary to achieve their transformational goals, according to new research from Deloitte and MIT.

The 2018 Digital Business Global Executive Study from Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review surveyed managers, executives, and analysts across industries and countries. The fourth annual study found that while many biopharma companies are exploring a variety of digital opportunities – from engaging consumers with apps to improving operations with artificial intelligence – just 20 percent of leaders said their companies are digitally maturing.

Where biopharma stands in its digital journey

Most biopharma leaders say their companies are either early in their journey (25 percent) or developing their capabilities (55 percent). Even though most companies are still in their development phase, 58 percent said that digital is a top management priority, with 75 percent expecting to achieve the value of their digital initiatives within the next five years.

So what is holding some biopharma companies back? The survey revealed a number of factors including lack of a clear vision, inadequate leadership, and limited funding for digital transformation.

Even though digital is a priority for more than half of biopharma companies surveyed, some say their organisations can be distracted by “shiny object” syndrome – shifting focus based on what they hear competitors are doing.

Many seek a clearer vision from leadership on their organisation’s digital efforts.

The survey found that many biopharma employees also seek a clearer vision from leadership on their organisation’s digital efforts.

Compared to other industries pursuing digital transformation, biopharma ranks in the middle in terms of its digital maturity and exhibiting the flexible leadership required, the study found. Biopharma is outpacing manufacturing, financial insurance and government organisations in its digital journey, but lagging behind IT, entertainment and telecom companies.

Leadership and funding challenges

When asked about leadership, more than three-quarters of biopharma respondents (78 percent) said their organisation needs to find new leaders to succeed in the digital age. Only 20 percent said their companies are developing the types of leaders who have the capabilities necessary to facilitate the transformation. This means that companies may need to look externally for digital leaders. Some companies are hiring Chief Digital Officers, often from other industries, to lead transformation efforts.

The study also found that many biopharma companies are not willing to fund digital projects or staff them with the necessary resources. Fifty-four percent of respondents agreed that adequate funding is a major drag on digital initiatives.

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EDITORS' CHOICE  
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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management - Technologies for biotech and pharmaceutical industries
August:
Regenerative technology - Meat of the future
September:
Doctor Robot - The digital healthcare revolution
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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