Declining profit margins and increasing costs have prompted the pharmaceutical industry to expedite digital transformation to adopt to the changing business environment.

GlobalData has conducted surveys in 2019 and 2020 across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe to assess which processes within the life science sector are expected to benefit the most from this digital transformation.

An analysis of the surveys reveals that pre-clinical and clinical trial processes are opined to be the primary beneficiaries of digital transformation during both the years.

Digital Transformation Strategies process and respondents

Improvement in Processes – All Respondents, 2020 vs. 2019

In 2020, approximately 40% of the respondents in North America opined that pre-clinical and clinical trials would see improvement in their processes, compared to 44% in 2019. The same opinion was shared by 36% and 29% of the respondents in Europe and Asia-Pacific, respectively, compared to 33% and 50% of the respondents in 2019.

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Marketing and sales emerged as the second most voted process within the life science sector in 2020 that would benefit most from digital transformation, as voted by 14% of the respondents in North America in 2020 against 11% in 2019. The same figure jumped from 9% to 19% in Europe on a year-on-year basis and from 0% in 2019 to 14% in 2020 in Asia Pacific.

Additionally, the End User Reach process was selected by 13% of the respondents in North America, 16% in Europe and 7% in Asia Pacific in 2020. The figure was 7%, 6% and 25%, in the same geographies respectively, a year ago.

Another 13% in North America opined that Target Identification would benefit the most in 2020, falling from 15% in 2019. A similar opinion was shared by 9% in Europe and 14% in Asia-Pacific in 2020, changing from 15% and 13% seen in 2019, respectively.

In 2020, 8% of the respondents in North America selected lead generation and optimisation processes, falling from 19% a year ago. In Europe, the percentage dropped from 21% in 2019 to 7% in 2020, while in Asia Pacific it increased from 0% in 2019 to 21% in 2020.

Drug approval was identified as the next area that would benefit the most from digital transformation as voted by 13% of the respondents in 2019, which declined to 7% in 2020. In Europe, the percentage was 9% in 2019, declining to 4% in 2020, while it increased in North America from 0% in 2019 to 2% in 2020.

Manufacturing, supply chain distribution and other areas were considered as the other beneficiaries of digital transformation by the respondents.

The analysis is based on Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology in the Healthcare Industry, 2020 survey fielded from 17 September to 06 October 2020.