Pharma R&D Today
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Readying Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Posted on June 23rd, 2020 by Paul Dockerty in Pharma R&D
Seeing it as key to innovation and competitive advantage, many businesses in the life sciences are learning to embrace digital transformation these days—in fact, with good reason, most view it as necessary for survival. But whether or not the process of adopting rapidly-evolving digital-age technologies will actually result in business success can really depend on how you do it.
Unfortunately, it is easy to fall too much in love with the technology itself and put a disproportionate emphasis on shiny new digital tools, when there is much more to it than that. In order to truly undergo a digital transformation as a company, you also need to transform culture, attitudes and available skillsets.
Winning hearts and minds
A digital transformation needs a holistic approach. First, a top-down approach where the people at the head of the organization fully support the adoption of new digital processes and technologies and, second, a bottom-up approach where employees question the old ways and commit to this transformation. It is vital to transform minds, not just tools. People should really understand the wider goals coming with these changes, so they are excited by the prospect. Because implementing new technology can sometimes be difficult, and change is by nature difficult, it’s better if they are genuinely open and eager to take on those challenges.
There may still be some resistance against digitization in the organization, but there are ways to overcome this problem. Be sure to provide thoughtful, thorough trainings and offer easily accessible technical support, so that people are more comfortable with the changes and feel confident that not only can they adapt to them, but also that it does not threaten their jobs. It’s also best not to overwhelm them by making several huge changes at once—give employees a chance to become familiar with each new process or technology at a reasonable pace.
People are your best tools
There is a need for digital pros but also a need to enable your employees to successfully engage with them. Your employees have inside and domain knowledge necessary to develop relevant digital tools. This means that you need to really invest in your people and support them in developing new digital skills as necessary.
So when you’re hiring, don’t only look for digital pros who have mastered a wide array of digital skills but also make sure that you are looking for people who are curious, quick learners, and are able to think and talk about data. You want talented and motivated individuals who can’t wait to discover and gain proficiency in newly developing technologies.
The big picture
Willingness to cooperate, collaborate and accept a “systems thinking” approach where you consider the bigger picture is important. For instance, subject matter experts need to be able to articulate their problems from a data perspective to successfully create tools which actually change the way they work. Digital transformation will not come out of any single department—every part of the organization must work together to support the endeavor if it’s going to be successful.
Do you need some guidance or assistance in your pursuit of digital transformation? Elsevier’s Professional Services Group supports customers with data integration, harmonization and analysis. Contact me and we’ll discuss how we can help.
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