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Looking into the Crystal Ball

As pharmaceuticals prepare to thrive in the years ahead, the need to focus on core competencies has never been stronger.

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It’s always intriguing to think about where an industry is headed, especially in an age in which technology has a transformative impact. This is perhaps nowhere truer than within pharmaceutical companies. Trends are surfacing in the life sciences sector that could forever change what companies look like in the years ahead.

Continued consolidation is a prime example, especially as pharma firms work to maintain revenue expectations. The potential is crystal clear in terms of how many pharmaceutical companies are competing for market share within the oncology realm. Bringing many organizations — even the highly specialized players — together as one cohesive unit would understandably yield new efficiencies.

At the same time, more progressive organizations are starting to seize opportunities to improve operational efficiencies — specifically, outsourcing business segments where organizations no longer possess a true competitive advantage.

For instance, there is an opportunity to identify areas of the regulatory planning, publishing and submission process which do not provide a competitive advantage. In fact, these areas are typically done in similar ways across most pharmaceutical firms – and soon across medical device companies as well. And although the data is proprietary material, which serves as a competitive advantage, the actual system and process are similar across the board. Contracting these components out to third parties enables a pharmaceutical company to put its human capital and investment to work on core competencies that provide a true competitive advantage.

These outsourcing opportunities exist throughout the enterprise, and an organization’s ability and willingness to let go of noncore tasks could make for a surer route to differentiation. It’s time to reconsider which noncompetitive IT and business services can be achieved outside a company’s four walls.

There are also significant opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to collaborate with partners or competitors as part of a consortium. For example, there is no reason that an optimized process for designing clinical trials couldn’t be put in place for use by multiple companies. The process could be based on best practices, and the data considered in the trial design could be best available in a visible, usable format to encourage group decision-making for the molecule team. The investment for the process, data, analytics and visualization – and the process for the supporting team to walk the molecule team through the trial design – could be put in place at a fraction of the cost via a consortium. The trial is proprietary, differentiated and a competitive advantage; the design of the trial is not. The goal is to find areas where a consortium could excel, enabling companies to pay a fraction of what they are paying by recreating a wheel that already exists.

Any of this takes is a shift in thinking and commitment from leadership to change. If you embark on this journey, consider engaging a consulting and technology leader to help design the transformation program and help to facilitate the organizational change.

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