Thursday, December 28, 2006


One swallow does not make a summer. But what starts as a buzzword, later a fad and that which gains momentum and does not whittle down, then you know a major shift is happening – yes a TREND IS ON!! And now here is the trendiest of market trends to hit the world of business and society in general; this is the trend of doing something NEW. The business of NEWNESS (ie innovation), which is giving HOPE to the society at large and the business community in specific.

So what does innovation mean? Essentially it refers to a positive change, a change that impacts the topline, bottomline and wealth generating capacity of organizations positively. In fact change management is a major capacity at the individual and organizational level in a world of dynamic marketplaces. So innovation is a strength giving mantra. In fact the Japanese with their continuous improvement strategy (Kaizen) are the past masters of this innovation game. They have interesting offshoots of this main theme. They have a technique where in an idea is passed on person to person and he or she has to add value to it and the end result of this passing the idea - ball game is examined and vetted for its economic potential.

As such, the IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment is fast becoming the brains trust of the world. This segment is not only the repository of knowledge and intelligence it is pleomorphic and as Charles Darwin says it is not the intelligent of the species that survives, but it is the one that is most responsive to change that survives. The very talk of innovation is about creating changes and change management. So this IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment, as we can surmise from Charles Darwin’s observations, is very adept at change management and hence is gaining more and more power in the scheme of things globally.

Furthermore Swami Vivekananda has said life is a game of might and mercy and that life is expansion and death is contraction. In this light, if one observes the action and goings on in the field of IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment, with INNOVATION as its buzzword these guys are expanding vertical by vertical across societal functioning. So it not long before each vertical like healthcare and pharmaceutical vertical(s) will have a major component of the IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment in it.

Yet there is one field that will have an edge over the IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment. That is the bankers-financial consultants-agencies-venture capitalists combine. Yet they will also fall for the innovation buzzword. You see humanity survives on HOPE. The greatest marketers sell HOPE. Innovation is touching on that HOPE factor. As such, organizations (and individuals) have an insatiable appetite for topline and bottomline growth; and growth in assets (because wealth is like the game of monopoly – those who have more assets, including brand assets, are wealthier). Innovation is now the HOPE to whet some of this appetite. So with innovation being actually about creating positive changes (read: a vista to become wealthier) it is one trend that will engage business and societal leaders for a long long time, till someone from the finance field blows the whistle and calls for consolidation, ie going slow on innovation and diffusion of innovation, so that the innovated entities and processes can bring in monies (the ROI thing will take over).

For innovation and positive changes (and hence more wealth for the organization) three things are essential:
a) a learning climate (in the organization); learning at both the individual and organizational level
b) a flat organization to generate ideas and diffuse ideas 360 degrees so that they get strengthened; you see, in non flat organizations, idea generation and innovation gets stifled mainly by prejudices, perception of threat to ones authority and power by the ones in power and an absence of meritocracy (flat organizations tend to cultivate meritocracy)
c) an organizational excellence group in the organization that drives quality management initiatives (in fact this is a very important aspect; today ICICI is a great organization much of it thanks to its organizational excellence group, that launches and monitors several quality initiatives. In TATAs there is business model driving change management, organizational excellence & quality initiatives through its TATA BUSINESS EXCELLENCE MODEL. There is a very senior group in the TATAs dedicated to see the agenda through).

Now what does all this have to do with the Indian and global pharmaceutical industry? Well, lots of it.

Let us do some stocktaking now. Outsourcing (or becoming ‘Bangalored’) has become the in-thing in the pharma industry. So what is the pharma and healthcare industry outsourcing? Here is a list: Clinical trials, clinical trial results statistical processing, R & D project(s) outsourcing, development of marketing communications, organizing events and other sales & marketing activities, training, drug development activities, sales field force reporting and doctor database maintenance, CRM activities, some administrative and finance activities and other IT and IT enabled activities. Now with this list getting longer day by day, the IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment are getting to know the pharma and healthcare industry better. Domain expertise in pharma and healthcare is becoming their might. In fact IT companies including Indian biggies like Infosys, TCS, MindTree, Convergys, Satyam & Wipro are getting in to the consulting space softly, confidently and steadily. And before long these companies would get in to corporate strategy and major strategic decision making in pharma and healthcare industries (or verticals as they call it). Now it is not a question whether it is right or wrong. It is a trend that is happening. The shift is taking place. Merck’s rofecoxib fiasco and Pfizer’s torcetrapib failure in recent times is making people sit up and ask the question WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PHARMA ORGANISATIONS?

And any vacuum will inevitably be filled up by the stronger and the ones better responsive to change. There is something static about the current organizational status in the pharma and healthcare industry. It is a fact that pharma companies though being knowledge intensive do not have a strong learning culture (at the employee and organizational level), pharma organizations are notoriously hierarchical – top heavy and perhaps there is not a single pharma or healthcare organization that has an organizational excellence group like the one at ICICI or the TATAs.

So it is time for the pharma and healthcare companies to don the thinking caps and rework some strategy and gain might or be led slowly but surely by the IT/Consulting/ITES/BPO segment. In fact the toast of the 58th IPC at Mumbai in Dec 2006 was the Infosys healthcare vertical! That sends a strong message to us - right?!!

- Sunil S Chiplunkar M Pharm PGDMM
Manager – Marketing and Training, Juggat Pharma, Bangalore


rajamanickam said...

Good sunil sabh keep it up. see my mail. i have forwarded to all my pharma friends. a copy marked to you.Congrats once again to your commendable writting

Sunil S Chiplunkar said...

Many thanks for your kind words. Your encouragement is a beacon of inspiration.