When the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world, the importance of digital technologies in every aspect of life became incontrovertible. Every industry and individual had to shift their communications to digital platforms. Supply chain disruption forced global industries to adopt technologies to improve visibility, collaboration, and agility.
In the life sciences and healthcare industries, the pandemic forced companies and countries to accelerate implementation of digital technologies – from telemedicine, to virtual clinical trials, to the imperative to share more data faster and in a harmonised way for innovation and to support public health. According to a GlobalData survey, 35% of pharmaceutical professionals say the pandemic sped up the digital transformation by more than five years.
To better understand how the achievements to date have been possible – and how far we still have to travel – it’s important to assess how we got to this point in digitalisation. The origins of the journey towards digital transformation can be traced back more than 50 years and across multiple industries. From sharable and structured databases, supported by industry standardisation to the emergence of technology solutions such as EDMS and ECM to support large sets of documents and data in electronic format, the world of information storage, sharing, and traceability had been revolutionised in a short period of time.
However, what we now refer to as the digital transformation began in earnest with the ability to exchange data through portals and networks and later with the introduction of blockchain technologies to secure these exchanges. More recently, digitalisation has made huge leaps forward with sensors, such as wearables and smart phones, and the ability to gain smart insights from data through natural language processing, semantic networks, machine learning, and other artificial intelligence technologies.