PME 2020: Agility at the heart of successful digital transformation

Last week we joined hundreds of our pharma peers at the virtual Pharma Marketing Europe conference. As the presentations, debates and thought-pieces continued, what became increasingly apparent was how Agile principles are the cornerstone of successful digital transformation.

While the overall concept of ‘Agile’ is consistent for all, different organisations have applied Agile principles in different ways. Here are 3 key principles we took away:

1 / Agility through a change in mindset

Big pharma is certainly not short of good, capable and skilful employees but as humans we often fall into the trap of inertia or ingrained behaviour. Overcoming this behaviour or mindset is key to a successful agile strategy, which often means the need to drive culture change in an organisation. During their Agile Transformation journey, the Roche Diabetes Care team learned that the key to this was supporting and encouraging their employees to adopt a growth mindset- an ‘I can do’ attitude- and risk taking. The result? A more empowered and motivated workforce, increased efficiencies in working, greater collaboration and sharing across the business and better outcomes for their stakeholders and patients.

2 / Think like a start-up, act like a start-up

This was the sentiment of the talks by the Head of Global Commercial Digital Innovation and the Chief Digital Officer at Almirall. In order to work in a more agile way big pharma needs to utilise some of the practices, and immerse themselves in the mindset, of smaller start-up companies. One piece of advice shared was to move away from traditional marketing processes and the idea that all business functions and teams need to be aligned before making a decision. Instead, give ownership to smaller teams and empower them with decision making. Another piece of advice is to encourage teams to pilot ideas/solutions as frequently as possible and reward both risk and failure. Adopting these practices means greater chance of success for pharma in developing innovative solutions.

3 / Business strategy must change with the times

Organisations must be open and flexible to adapting their business objectives on an ongoing basis. The global pandemic has forced many organisations to step out of their comfort zones and shift focus in unprecedented ways. If organisations learn anything from this experience, it should be about ensuring they have the ability to reorganise and flex for any future change. This requires a constant assessment of the market, stakeholder needs and evaluation of the business objectives, and not soldiering on with an existing strategy that no longer makes sense for the business. This type of agility is an ongoing evolution that will ensure pharma is consistently doing work that is commercially relevant and empathetic towards their stakeholders and customers.

To hear more about how we’ve helped our clients adopt Agile principles, please get in touch.