Blog · 26 Jun 2020

The pharma sector’s migration to a home environment

The ‘standard way’ of working has been deleted. How will digital transformation revolutionise this super critical sector?

Six months ago, few in the pharmaceutical industry would’ve predicted they’d be swapping the laboratory for the kitchen table or that they’d be home-schooling chemistry.

Then the world was plunged into a pandemic and within days, countless businesses - in every sector - were thrown into a spin as thousands of employees began working from home.

In the pharmaceutical sector, the main focus was on the migration to a home environment, as well as the impact to R&D and clinical trials and to managing call centres from home. This is extremely challenging as many of the processes now run partly outside of the laboratory environment, increasing the risk to intellectual property.

As we emerge from the crisis, the long-term impacts on the global economy are beginning to be felt. A recent survey revealed that 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently*. What’s the role of digital workplace transformation in this new landscape? And how will pharma and healthcare companies, R&D and regulatory bodies adjust to the new norm?

Quite simply, Coronavirus has deleted the ’standard way’ the pharmaceutical industry worked in the past. Everything is different from here on in. The majority of your workforce are working at home. There’s no international travel. Is there a need for the same number and size of large, shiny corporate offices, and their associated cost? And what will R&D facilities of the future look like?

So what now for the pharmaceutical industry?

Pharmaceuticals are now starting to think how they can turn the sudden changes they’ve made to their businesses into opportunities. The consequence of this is that we’re having more advanced discussions with customers. Now they see that remote working can work, why would they go back to the old way of working? The next critical consideration is weighing up the advantages of collaboration in a physical environment versus collaboration in a virtual environment. They fear losing the intimacy of face-to-face, so it makes sense to invest in technology that enhances virtual intimacy.

The pharmaceutical sector is hugely important right now – much more than ever before. For the vaccine that everyone wants – public, governments, cyber criminals and competing nation states – there’s huge anticipation that it’ll be delivered imminently. Three years would be lightning speed… five to ten years are the current standard. The same applies to treatments, even if it means using existing medicines for new purposes.

By deploying technology focused on research, production and distribution, as well as embracing virtual clinical trials, the pharma and healthcare sector will leverage AI and IoT to build a much richer collaborative and intimate way of working. Not just within its own organisations, but across the sector and across geographies.

Meeting your challenges head on

So, if you as a pharmaceutical want to benefit from digital workplace transformation without disrupting research or trials, you need simpler solutions. You need to enable your entire organisation to collaborate across teams and across vast distances at scale and at speed. You need to be more agile so you can adapt rapidly to new business opportunities. And you need to enhance knowledge and sharing by connecting the laboratory environment.

We can help you meet these challenges. Our approach to transformation means that multiple technologies, legacy systems, and varied infrastructure can be migrated to create a single, seamless, secure global ecosystem that optimises the entire drug development cycle.

We can help you connect smoothly and securely to collaboration applications, and any 3rd party platforms you may be considering for big data, AI and digital logistics.

And we can use all the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained from protecting our own network and corporate assets to help you secure your lab environments and your connected supply chain.

Boosting adoption across your business

One of the major keys to success is actively helping your people make the most of collaboration and digital services.

Our adoption management approach uses a persona methodology to make sure each member of your workforce gets the tools they need to be as productive as possible. And the training they need to use them effectively, regardless of previous experience.

Research shows that many employees already have 6-8 collaboration tools - yet businesses fail to see the promised productivity gains. We focus on making sure that employees understand the benefits of using these tools, whether it’s on the office floor or in research, sales or services. And we’ve found that once users see how much such tools can improve efficiency, they’re very quick to embrace them.

Helping you create a compelling business case

Our innovative commercial models mean you can manage your costs and scale use as needed. A single global price per user allows you to predict costs and you can flex up and down on users, so you only pay for what you use. This means you can realise and demonstrate a quicker return on investment and assess the effect of collaboration on throughput and innovation to build a stronger business case for future transformation.

The real value comes from your end user experience

Collaboration across the entire value chain process will allow all companies in the healthcare and pharma sector to reap the rewards of digital transformation: increased productivity, reduced costs, greater operational agility and more effective use of resources – both material and human. Our approach delivers rapid adoption, a fantastic user experience and rapid returns: you can be saving money up to 80% faster.

How we’ve helped some of our pharma clients during Coronavirus

A global vaccine company wanted to make sure their contact centre operations could move from fixed desk to homeworking. We increased One Mobile Secure Access capacity, adding 1,150 new licenses, and delivered their call centre project two months ahead of schedule. Agents were quickly set up to work from home, keeping them safe and making sure customers are still getting their usual service.

We helped a global pharmaceutical company with a super-fast service upgrade for their homeworking contingency plans. In just over a day, we accelerated internet upgrades which increased VPN capabilities from 2GB to 4GB, helping 30,000 people to work from home using VPN traffic. We also delivered an urgent migration of IT service desks to One Cloud Cisco, so agents can work remotely and support customers across many countries.

And another pharmaceutical company needed to manage a surge in employees working from home around the world. We helped make sure their digital capabilities were operational, their network and VPN access points met the demand and there was no disruption to product supply.

Wherever you are on the road to digital workplace transformation, we can get you there faster. If you’d like to know more, we’re here to help.

* Gartner: CFO Actions in Response to COVID-19: Week of 30 March 2020