• Larry Raff, Leadership |

The impact of COVID-19 is personal to each of us and the news each day reminds us of the challenges we are facing.  Good things emerge in a crisis, we adapt to the situation and through that have an opportunity to change things for the better. We are witnessing a fundamental change in the  way the life sciences industry (including: pharmaceutical, biomedical and medical device, companies) is working and solidifying a “patient centered” approach, creating a new connected enterprise.  

The Connected Enterprise before COVID-19

Pre-crisis, KPMG launched a framework and approach to help organizations connect across five lenses: customers, channels, suppliers, functions and market signals. A research report from Forrester showed a customer centered, connected enterprise would outperform its peers by two times. KPMG member firms were working with organizations to implement new approaches, capabilities and technology to connect the front, middle and back-office to provide a better experience for customers and employees. That all stopped with COVID-19.

Communication that is connecting us

Now we are in the middle of a health crisis that is requiring rapid decisions and changes to our organizations. The first major change was with our workforce; we had to move from physical to virtual. Prior to the crisis, we would send a quick email with instructions, hold a conference call, issue a status report, have a meeting or stop by an office to relay small bits of information. Today, everyone is meeting virtually, on video calls and seem to be connecting in a more meaningful way. We are checking in on our colleagues even when there is no meeting. Before a business discussion starts we inquire about each other’s families. We share what we are seeing with our customers, suppliers and regulators. These conversations are across the value chain and we are sharing more than ever before. The interactions that used to take 10 minutes now last a half-hour. It is a robust discussion that not only drives us forward but also connects us. Through those connections an opportunity arises.

Showing the best of our industry

Whatever plan we had pre-crisis, now it is about how we can help. That is what has always driven our industry, human wellness, and has once again pushed us to innovate and transform. The organizational orthodoxies that stopped us from pushing something forward no longer seem to be an impediment. Working across functional lines, value chains and the entire eco-system seems natural and as if we always did it this way.  

An industry built on research and innovation has collaboration at its core. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t read about a vaccine, new research approach or therapy being tested. Collaborations are occurring across companies and geographies.  Working with front-line medical professionals to provide better testing and sharing information across the globe is happening at a pace never seen before. How is it all happening? Being connected across employees, customers, suppliers and channels while leveraging market signals. 

A new way to work

As we get through this crisis, and we will, there will be a new way to work. We won’t be able to go back to the way we were organized. Now that we know what it feels like to be truly connected and “patient centered” we won’t go back. This crisis has changed the course we were on. New delivery models will be implemented, the way we work will change and look more like today than yesterday. Whatever “transformation” agenda we had pre-crisis is now just that…pre-crisis. Where we are headed won’t be predicated on the trends of the past, they are going to be created based on how we worked during the crisis.

Someone asked me if the connected enterprise is still relevant. I can’t imagine something more relevant and more valuable.