CIOs, Priorities, and the Life Sciences Industry

As an IT executive, this is the period in which my inbox is inundated with e-mails about CIO priorities for the new year. Many of these articles are insightful and can provoke some interesting and thoughtful discussions. Nevertheless, their one-size-fits-all approach can limit their usefulness.

Companies, like snowflakes, are unique. In this case, uniqueness is driven by many factors including:

  • Industry
  • Sub-Industry Focus
  • Development state (startup, growth, downsizing)
  • Operating status (pending sale, M&A, legal complications, etc.)
  • Access to capital
  • Talent base

Each of these factors can shift priorities, and collectively their impacts can be substantial.

Consequently, I view these yearly priority articles as generalized recommendations that may or may not be relevant in my circumstance. To be sure, the often contained points have great value, but as the old adage goes, your “mileage may vary.”

In recognition of these facts, I am going to take a different approach. Here, the focus will be on the Pharmaceuticals (Life Sciences) industry.screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-05-28-am

Within this broad area, there can still be hundreds of variations. Examples include “Big Pharma” versus “Specialty Pharma,” Brand-Name versus Generic, start-up versus established, vertically integrated versus virtual (partner) structured. You get the idea; there are lots of snowflakes.

So how does one develop a list of priorities given the blizzard of snowflakes filling the environment? The answer is to focus on the basics and frame the discussion around the classic paradigm of People-Process-Technology-Strategy. The goal will be to illuminate some fundamental drivers that have high applicability for Life Science companies.

Depending on your organization’s particular state, you might need to begin by identifying your organization’s key capabilities. Here capabilities are defined as the things an organization does particularly well driving meaningful business results. Examples can range from talent management, lean manufacturing, customer care, research, or product design. For pharmaceutical companies, some specific examples could be pipeline management, study design, regulatory management including submissions, responses, and related matters, and drug discovery.screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-05-43-am

The ability to understand and enumerate an organization’s core capabilities is essential both in general and for IT. It provides a clear and aligned roadmap for the organization, helping it understand what are critical investments and where they have gaps.

Ideally, the end result can be a roadmap which allows for well-timed and scoped investments throughout the organization. IT can leverage this map to support the business with agile IT solutions aligned to the business needs. Additional benefits include minimizing re-work and a clearer picture for future investment needs.

A five-step approach is outlined here for advancing this process.

The key steps are:











The next entry will focus on Step One and Two in this process.

If you would like to set up a conversation with Clint, please reach out.

By Clint Gilliam, Virtual CIO, GreenPages Technology Solutions