The Progress of Digital Adoption in 2022

Pharma 4.0 gains traction

January 05, 2023

2022 saw a continued focus for pharma manufacturers on advancing supply chain resiliency, including strategies to improve operational efficiency and agility. These goals also found common ground with initiatives for continuous improvement and operational excellence. 

A wealth of evidence supports digitalization as a key enabler for these business initiatives. Although this has been understood for a while, 2022 saw steady acceleration in adoption of digital technologies in pharma, a healthy trend for the industry. As reported in “the Needle is Moving: Digital Transformation in Life-Sciences Manufacturing,” a greater proportion of pharma companies have moved beyond the “it’s a really good idea” stage to actual implementation. 

However, challenges remain. Despite the indisputable benefits of digital transformation, in line with the ISPE’s Pharma 4.0 initiative, cultural barriers continue to hinder progress. Inertia in stakeholder buy-in persists given the effort and change management needed to make real progress in the digital journey. Many factors play into this, including a company’s stage of digital maturity and their current digital ecosystem. Leadership with vision for a holistic digital transformation strategy is key to achieving lasting success. Top-down initiatives help. Equally, innovation and proof points from the bottom-up inspire more wide-ranging implementation. Everyone has a role to play. 

A recent report from McKinsey speaks to the need for pharma to revisit their operations strategies to foster greater resilience and maintain profitability. Inflation is clearly a headwind, as not only has the industry continued to face shortages in materials, but costs have skyrocketed, creating an imperative to find new ways to protect margins. 

In addition, pharma companies continue to wrestle with the need to shorten overall time to market without compromising quality and to build strategies that address inequities in access to medicine. There also remains an urgency to become better prepared to manage the next crisis. And to top it off, pharma is experiencing a significant talent shortage across the industry. 

According to McKinsey’s report, advancement of digital technologies is the tailwind that will help address these challenges and propel the industry forward. The number of McKinsey “lighthouse” organizations is increasing, with Johnson & Johnson now making the list for pharma. The availability of digital technologies and sensors has increased dramatically in recent years, both in parallel and in response to global disruptions. In general, these tools have become much more affordable and easier to use than in decades past. 

Digitalization enhances efficiencies — saving time, bolstering data integrity and reducing wasted product. When leveraged during drug discovery, process design and/or tech transfer, digitalization can add millions of dollars in revenue potential for each day gained under patent protection1, making profitability targets that much more attainable.  

2022 yielded numerous opportunities to reconnect with customers in person, hearing both the challenges facing the industry and the inspiring stories of companies considered pioneers in digital transformation. We look forward to this trend continuing in 2023 and are proud to be actively engaging with the ISPE as a 2022-23 Corporate Sponsor. 


Learn more about how AspenTech is helping the Pharma industry boost efficiency, increase productivity and improve access to medicine.   



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