Science and technology are the hero of the day - but not without some challenges

Teun Schutte
Publication Date
30 July 2021

Science and technology are the hero of the day - but not without some challenges

COVID-19 has challenged Life Sciences companies like never before. It’s not an understatement to say that the marriage of science and technology are quite literally saving the day and preventing what could have been an even more grave situation. From the speedy development of life saving vaccines to the increased focus on technologies that have made it possible to reduce face-to-face interaction and decrease viral spread, we are all benefiting from unprecedented advances in these important fields.  

And while consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using digital technology in their day-to-day lives to shop, travel, fuel up, and much more, a recent Mobiquity study reveals that when it comes to using technology to manage their health, patients in the US feel that the tools they have available to them have room for improvement. Despite strong interest in virtual clinical trials and a desire for more tools and information directly from drug manufacturers, satisfaction with current digital tools is relatively low. 

Challenges to Digital Transformation

While it's clear that the digital age is here and patients want more digital options, many companies are still struggling with figuring out how to both leverage technology and properly provide services in an accessible and digital way. Understanding why and a potential way forward was the topic of a recent Mobiquity discussion, Embracing Digital Disruption in a Post COVID World, led by Scott Snyder founder of Mobiquity and Senior Fellow at The Wharton School. He had the opportunity to gather global leaders at the forefront of advancing digital technology in Life Sciences to understand how to tackle this important challenge. Some of the challenges our panelists identified included:

  • Difficulty adopting a business-wide agile digital mindset

As voted by the panel audience, the number one challenge of life science businesses looking to become digitally disruptive is adopting an agile digital mindset. It can be difficult for well-established companies to transform their culture to one that is capable of fast decision making, but it is essential that this be addressed in order for the business to continue to thrive.

“The core pieces of building for integration, being adaptive and agile, and focusing on evidence-based technologies are key,” explained panelist Cris De Luca, global head of digital investments at Sanofi Ventures. Companies whose inherent structures make it difficult to adapt to the pace of digital competitors may want to explore new types of partnerships or the development of more independent business units better suited to the demands of digital innovation.

  • Previous track records of success limit the desire to take risks

“An example of our biggest challenge over the past few years is the track record of success of our legacy organizations,” said Celine Martin, the head of digital surgery at J&J medical devices. “Things like lack of clarity in the transformation strategy, misaligned core and digital business culture, and lack of digital natives are all examples of reasons why companies can struggle to adapt to digital change.” 

It is incredibly common for larger companies to resist the urge to take risks when it comes to reorganizing the infrastructure that has fueled their success. Trying new digital-based ideas takes time, resources, and money, and on top of that, it may not yield the type of returns the company has become accustomed to. Companies interested in successful growth in the digital space need to understand the importance of trying new things and understanding that some may fail. Reframing the definition of success is essential for integration of digital services in the life sciences space.

  • The challenge of finding the correct focus

The larger the company, the larger the scale. While it may seem like a large company is doing a lot of change in their internal infrastructure to better adapt to digital transformation, it is crucial that companies spend time focusing their resources on areas where they have an advantage. Leveraging your resources to optimize disruption is essential for large-scale success.

“Large scale companies have tons of people and resources — but they can often end up with this proliferation of activity that isn’t leveraging the intrinsic scale that the business has as a large industrial player,” explained panelist James Kugler, CDO of Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany. This lack of clear path and ability to leverage a company’s unique position can result in companies feeling like they are putting in the work to become digitally disruptive, but ultimately not succeeding and becoming obsolete. 

The path forward

Digital disruption is an essential part of modern business, no matter the size, scale or industry. In Life Sciences, the stakes are high and the companies who want to succeed need to be realistic about the challenges they’ll face in digital transformation and actively work to ensure they have clear plans in place to realize their full potential. And while the hurdles to overcome are great, the payoff is changing and often literally saving lives - making the hard work you do now more than worth the effort. 

About Mobiquity

At Mobiquity, we are proud to be leaders in digital consultancy. We love working with companies of all sizes in the life science space to facilitate conversations and growth in the development of life-changing digital technologies.

Interested in learning more about digital disruption? Subscribe to our blog or visit our website to learn more about how your company can take the first steps to adopting a corporate digital mindset.

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