In terms of ease of creating digital innovations, Pharma & Life sciences industry would perhaps figure among the last few. The reason for this is the exposure of the industry to regulations, sensitivity of information and its perceived importance to life, among others. That said there is no reason why this industry will be safeguarded from disruptions by new entrants.
In the last 10 years, we have witnessed major shifts in many industries which were otherwise sensitive to a few, if not all of the above factors. We are also aware that Healthcare Technology is already at its tipping point; and going by the amount of investments being made in this space, Pharma & Life sciences will have to follow suit. If you look at most of the digital innovations in other industries, you would see an interesting concept emerging; and this concept could impact Pharma & Life sciences industry as well. I call this, “Product-Service ecosystem”.
What is a Product-Service Ecosystem?
There was a time when making huge capital investments in building products at scale returned large scale consumption. In short, investing in assets provided returns. However, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way new-age companies are organizing themselves… there are a few fundamental characteristics that define these new-age companies:
- They have ‘digital’ in their DNA. So much so that, they do not see digital as an initiative, but understand it as an imperative; an essential building block of the business.
- They built newer operational models; the kind of models that never existed before… and most of the models we see today challenge those regulatory hurdles that impede their adoption.
- They have seamlessly integrated Product and Service; and built compelling “Product-Service ecosystems”.
Take for instance, Uber: At its core, Uber is a compelling application on one hand, while on the other; it is seamlessly integrated service. The ecosystem was imagined and built in a way, product and service are inseparable. Imagine Uber without its application or without its network of drivers and cars! Uber found its way around regulatory norms as well, that otherwise could have impeded innovation. Payments industry went through similar disruption… so much that regulations are now changing in light of large scale adoption from consumers* end. We are seeing similar disruptions in the education industry; with the likes of newer online platforms connecting learners with educators through compelling application interfaces. Health & Fitness industry is going through the same, with connected devices getting its users across to nutritionists and fitness coaches through application interfaces. I do not see a reason why Pharma & Life science industries cannot develop similar concept on a large scale; and I think that should happen sooner than later.
We are in a world where innovations are happening at the drop of a hat and consumers have many more choices than they did a decade ago.
How to Build Compelling Product-Service Ecosystems in the Pharma Industry?
Needless to say, digital will be at the core of these ecosystems; but just going digital is not enough. We are in a world where innovations are happening at the drop of a hat and consumers have many more choices than they did a decade ago. Among others, these three principles could help us build those ecosystems:
- Digital is not one person’s key initiative. It should be in the DNA of the organization. Start thinking, feeling and doing digital. It is easier said than done, but it looks like we do not have a choice but to transform ourselves.
- We need to work on newer propositions. Creating digital interfaces for older propositions will be like serving old wine in a new bottle: Unexciting! At the core of what we are going to do, would be out spirit to question what we had been doing and do them differently. It calls for a paradigm shift in the organizational culture: enabling faster decision making, allowing experimentation, accepting failures early and effecting fundamental changes in the way people collaborate.
- It is important now than ever to start building Product-Service ecosystems; and in order to do this, we will have to seamlessly integrate digital interfaces with service delivery models. In the process, newer operational models will emerge, regulations will be worked around, new products will be launched and lessons will be learnt.