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How pharma should navigate Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Developing an AI strategy that cuts through the hype

Ed Corbett

By Ed Corbett, Principal at Novasecta, Europe's leading pharmaceutical strategy consultancy

AI has huge potential benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, from improving R&D productivity through to more effective sales representative deployment and better supply chain management. For many however, it remains misunderstood, or even feared – will robots end up taking my job? Given the transformative potential of AI, companies must at the very least understand its benefits and develop a strategy that meets each organisation’s unique situation.

AI has many definitions and subsets, but at its most basic, it combines big data with algorithms and statistics to better inform decision-making – this often enables humans to spend more time on things that only humans can do. For the pharma industry, AI has a huge variety of potential applications.

‘Leaders need to develop an AI strategy that cuts through the hype and matches each company’s unique situation’

In R&D, it is being applied to molecule repurposing, clinical trial recruitment and even predicting patient response to drugs – all areas that are capitally intensive and impact productivity. In the commercial sphere, it is being used to guide sales representatives to which doctor is most likely to use a product and tailor product messages accordingly. In manufacturing it can improve packaging, reduce write-offs and limit batch variation.

Pharma companies are approaching AI with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Novartis stands out by putting AI at the heart of its business and many others are making significant, at risk, investments in the technology. Given its clear benefits, leaders need to develop an AI strategy that cuts through the hype and matches each company’s unique situation. The key questions that need answers are: which areas of the business have the most potential for AI? What are the company priorities over the short, medium and long term? What should the company do to realise the benefits of AI? If a company decides AI is part of its future, it must recruit the best talent, challenge and change existing business processes and communicate its benefits to counter pre-existing fears. Given its transformational potential, a company that lacks an AI strategy may find awkward questions arising from shareholders, and leaders may not be replaced by a robot, but by another human.

In association with

Novasecta

23rd October 2018

From: Sales

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