Technology Vacuum yet to be filled in Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences

Umesh Mehta, CIO, Jubilant Life Sciences Limited

Jubilant Life Sciences Limited (JUBILANT.NS-NSE) is an integrated global Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences company located in Noida, UP with a market cap of Rs.2,789.01 crore. Jubilant has emerged as one of the leading Custom Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS) player and a leading Drug Discovery and Development Solution (DDDS) provider.

To date, the cloud market has mainly served as a tool for sales and marketing teams within most pharmaceutical companies. But that is quickly changing. Today, the cloud market is adapting to meet the needs of all areas within life sciences. It not only helps them to overcome IP issues and security issues, but also allowed countless companies to cut down operational costs. "Platform as a Service" or PaaS is a complete, pre-integrated platform that facilitates the deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing underlying hardware, software or hosting capabilities.

Mobility is another gift technology has brought to pharmaceutical companies. Mobility helps in having greater visibility of field force especially in remote areas and to respond quickly and in timely manner to the end users. It does helps to pre-call planning, in-clinic effectiveness, capture real time information, and real time monitoring with the concept of anytime & anywhere. It does help to get socialize with the end customer on real time which has a positive impact on customer delight and also to increase the productivity.

Though basic core systems like ERP, Supply Chain Management and CRM has improved the productivity of the industry, lot needs to be done on R&D, regulatory and compliance part. To improve the productivity, pharmaceutical companies should implement solutions like Product Life Cycle Management, Manufacturing Execution System, Quality Management Systems, Advance planning and scheduling among others. IT can play a big role in addressing the challenges of Pharmaceutical & Life Science companies around profitable growth, regulatory compliance, and operational through various generic and industry specific solutions.

Challenges in New Vertical
Unlike Automotive industry, penetration of IT in Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences industry was much less. IT was never looked at as a key business driver, thus pharmaceutical companies were slow in adopting Information Technology. Technology mainly was adopted to meet regulatory requirements or there existed a dire need for business to do so. There were challenges around standardization of master data, processes and reports; data from various applications was not getting converted into meaningful and actionable information.

As a CIO, change management has always been a challenging task. To implement IT based solutions to solve business challenges in such industry is not that simple. Involving stakeholder from the very beginning including during selection of the technology platform and showing them benefits (What is there in the solutions for them) always helps in winning confidence of the stakeholders. Such steps help in overcoming the issues of change management and in deploying as well as using technology based solutions.

Previous result-driven professional experience has helped in winning credibility and confidence of the internal customers within a short span of time. The approach to target low hanging fruits (quick wins) and gain credibility by constantly delivering results has made the internal customer and stakeholder ready for jointly taking up complex and large functional and cross functional IT projects. Having prior experience of setting up IT Infrastructure from scratch for 4 out of the 5 organizations has really helped in streamlining IT infrastructure at Jubilant. It gave very good results in terms of the IT services uptime in a short time and also helped in reducing the OPEX cost.

Apart from the Pharmaceutical industry's regulatory and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) requirements, it was not very complex to blend generic technology solutions in Pharmaceutical & Life Science companies, given that most of the processes in Pharmaceutical industry are similar to process-manufacturing organization. Specialized pharmaceutical industry specific solutions are also available in the market to suit industry requirements.

As of now, penetration of IT is low in Pharmaceutical industry compared to industries like BFSI, Telecom and Automotive. On a positive note, there is a lot of scope for emerging technologies like mobile, cloud, social and analytics to improve productivity, reduce cost, meet regulatory requirements and mitigate risk. (As told to Susila Govindaraj)