Certain digital technologies such as the cloud (49%), AI (38%), data lakes (33%), and wearables (33%) have been adopted in day-to-day operations; others such as quantum computing and digital twins are still nascent.
The momentum of digital innovation is likely to continue post pandemic. Eighty-two percent of respondents agree that digitalization of operations will continue even after the pandemic ends.
Digital innovation is a burning strategic priority. Seventy-seven percent of respondents say their organization views digital innovation as a competitive differentiator.
Respondents agree that their organizations need to solve fundamental issues, including dedicated funding (59%), a better digital innovation strategy (49%), and the right talent (47%) to scale digital innovation.
Biopharma is now at a digital innovation inflection point. Organizations face an important choice: either decelerate the pace of digital innovation or pursue what we call leapfrog digital innovation (see section, “Leapfrog digital innovation opportunities across value streams”). This involves making focused digital technology investments that come together like a string of pearls to change the status quo and transform activities across functional areas and value streams. Such leapfrog digital innovation could bring transformative benefits, including realizing ambitious goals earlier, engaging patients and partners optimally, and bringing drugs to market faster. Our research suggests that there is now an urgency among biopharma executives to take risks, invest, and innovate faster to gain an edge over the competition, which can be achieved through leapfrog digital innovation.
As organizations attempt to accelerate their digital innovation journey through leapfrog digital innovation, they should consider the following:
- Establish digital innovation north stars (e.g., patient-centered and seamless development) for each functional area that connect to overarching enterprisewide digital ambitions (e.g., faster time to market). Organizations should consider the business and information technology (IT) transformational shifts (e.g., operational process changes, access to data, and cultural changes) needed to realize these north stars.
- Develop a purposeful portfolio of digital innovation that cohesively build on one another to realize north star aspirations.
- Determine the digital innovation approach by rethinking traditional IT approaches to evaluate and select one or more digital innovation archetypes (i.e., do-it-yourself (DIY) innovator, incubator, accelerator, crowdsourcer, venture capitalist) best suited to innovation goals.
- Design an operating model that provides dedicated innovation resources, outlines an overarching innovation process and success factors to measure progress toward north stars. Moving away from legacy budgeting models to iterative project-based financing could help ensure adequate funding for digital innovation.
Digital innovation involves the application of innovative digital technologies that address business needs and create value for patients, the enterprise, and its partners. This includes, but is not limited to, technologies such as AI, data lakes, cloud computing, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), wearables, digital twins, the IoT, blockchain, and quantum computing.
Prior to the pandemic, our research showed that biopharma lagged behind other industries in digital innovation.1 While approaching digital innovation incrementally, many companies were yet to treat digital innovation on par with other strategic priorities.2 When the pandemic began, however, biopharma companies quickly turned to innovative digital technologies to conduct their business remotely or virtually. Digital innovation projects planned for years out suddenly received budgets and support to be implemented immediately.