CIOs: Solution Providers in C-suite
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CIOs: Solution Providers in C-suite

By Rajeev Nair, VP & CIO, Jubilant Pharmaceuticals

Rajeev Nair, VP & CIO, Jubilant Pharmaceuticals

IT to Homogenize and Integrate Key Processes

Life Sciences organizations are known to grow through rapid acquisitions. Using IT as a strategic tool to homogenize and integrate the various key processes for each new acquired entity without compromising on the differentiation that each of them need to maintain competitive advantage is key to this growth strategy. The mantra should be “standardize commodity services, and differentiate for competitive advantage”.

Top priorities of a Pharmaceutical CIO

a) Using IT as a strategic tool to strengthen compliance of key GxPprocesses is an extremely important need for pharmaceutical companies. IT should play a major role in this area with automation, meaningful risk assessments and corresponding validation approaches, thus building air-tight compliant processes without blowing the budget on cost of compliance.
b) Leveraging the market, especially cloud technologies, for both optimizing cost of operations and to increase speed to market for product development.
c) In an ever-evolving industry with M&As, new products hitting the market, and the revolutionary changes through new regulations such as ACA, market intelligence is of paramount importance. Employing new data capture and mining initiatives to improve intelligence on customer, competition, product and compensation (reimbursements) is a key initiative for all Life Sciences CIOs.

Technology Innovations Playing Key Role in Life Sciences

Multiple revolutionary technologies are now commercially viable, and sustainable business Rajeev Nair models have now evolved. Tools to leverage Big Data and Social can help better understand market intelligence and improve brand equity and messaging for Life Sciences companies. New affordable, in-memory processing can now crunch extremely high volumes of patient, product, efficacy and reimbursement data in nanoseconds, thus providing actionable intelligence. In addition to facilitating better operational models, Cloud technologies now allow even smaller organizations access to the best tool sets and skills that the market offers that previously have been inaccessible due to cost. All-time low semiconductor costs and better technology are resulting in the possibility of device integration at the warehouse, shop floor and laboratory operations, thus improving regulatory compliance through reduction of human errors. Overall, there hasn’t been a more exciting time to be living in the technology world.

IT Challenges Impacting Operations of Life Sciences Companies

• Speed to Market is an extremely important factor for Life Sciences companies’ success, and thus there is an immense pressure on IT organizations to keep pace with not only delivering business value, but to do so well ahead of the competition. Effective CIOs mitigate this risk by staying in-tune with business needs, and anticipating IT’s role thus enabling the delivery teams a head-start.
• Optimizing operations has always been a traditional portfolio for IT, but in Life Sciences, it has to be executed without impacting the regulatory compliance of GxPprocesses and solutions. Developing a strong compliance portfolio within IT in close ties with Quality & Regulatory affairs will be key.
• As the industry continues to evolve and new products and regulations continue to emerge, the appetite for more data and analytics is bound to grow,
and IT will be hard pressed to keep pace. Developing a solid analytics platform, supplemented with IT skills to combine internal operational and sales data with external open, unstructured and dynamic data will be pivotal to addressing this challenge.
• The biggest challenge that the CIO faces today is one of talent acquisition and retention. As technology changes at breakneck speed, finding the skills that have the appropriate balance of technological brilliance and business savviness is becoming a challenging task.

"Leverage the market, especially cloud technologies for both optimizing cost & increasing speed to market for product development"

Advice to Aspiring CIOs

Beyond technology deployment and operational efficiency, CIOs’ effectiveness is measured on their ability to deliver business value. To be able to deliver business value, (s)he needs to understand what it is first. Thus knowing your business and its unique selling proposition in the market it operates in, is a must. Equally important is developing your relationships with the key stakeholders of the business, and in this context, it might be wise to remember that most successful engagements at that level are the informal ones that happen over a meal or in the hallway. It will equally be wise to engage with them in business terms that they can comprehend and are passionate about, and to keep the techno-babble within the confines of the data center.

Finally, most CEOs expect their CIOs to be the most progressive member in their leadership team and thus count on them to champion change throughout the organization through calculated risks. For the CIO to be able to play at that level, he needs to develop and retain quality talent within his organization, provide them with clear guidance, and then get out of their way.

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