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Merck & Co. shows how a company can go digital

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2018 in Business
Pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to reduce expenses while improving results. This is one reason why the sector is looking towards digital technologies. A company down this journey is life science business Merck & Co.
The problems facing companies include inefficiencies in supply chain and a wayward research and development processes. The problems this leads to, according to software applications specialists Appian, is a failure to reduce costs appropriately and with not delivering sufficient product yield and quality in the sector. The solution is with undertaking moves designed to transform pharmaceutical operations based on digital technologies.
Dangers linked with 'going digital'
However 'going digital' is not straightforward and many companies get this wrong. This is reinforced by a review by McKinsey. The business group note that while the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors rush to adopt digital technologies, the outcome where the strategy is ill-thought is one of delay, confusion and uncertainty. This is because the issue is not simply to purchase, install and qualify digital technologies, but also to re-orientate business goals to meet and adapt to the changing demands of the healthcare.
Changing consumer trends
Part of this is a recognition of changing consumer trends. A study has noted how 70 percent of US consumers are using online channels to manage health and wellness; plus, over 50 percent of US healthcare providers are so-termed digital “omnivores,” using three or more connected devices professionally.
As an example of how this can be achieved efficiently is with Merck & Co., a healthcare company headquartered in New Jersey.
Merck & Co model
According to Appian, Merck & Co. had an issue in terms of multiple specialized technology solutions, including different database systems, to support various types of research and supply chain operations. The problem was that these systems acted in silos, limiting how the company could use such technologies to support overall business goals.
The central objective of Merck & Co.'s digital transformation process was to develop an end-to-end solution for connecting data and unstructured information in a cohesive way. This was based on operating a platform configuration that enabled users to collaborate and problem solve with ease, without the need to install, validate and learn a new type of technology platform. This utilized Appian's low-code technologies which allow organizations to develop new apps and to create data workflows based on parameters that are already in-built into the platform.
Global shake-up of the pharmaceutical sector
For a more general look at the digital transformation of the pharmaceutical sector, see the Digital Journal article "Road map for the digital transformation of pharmaceuticals." The article looks at the headline outcomes from a recent workshop run by the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Germany (BPI - Bundesverband der Pharmazeutischen Industrie e.V. ), and analysts Alira Health.
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