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By Christophe Weber

Data and digital technologies are revolutionizing every aspect of business today, ranging from routine processes to solving complex problems. At Takeda, technology is not just a tactic, but part of our strategy to create better experiences and outcomes for patients, providers and payers faster than we could have otherwise. Ultimately, our data and digital transformation is accelerating the discovery, development and delivery of life-transforming treatments, and most importantly, helping us deliver on our commitments to patients, our people and the planet.

From more efficient drug discovery and development to delivery

As part of our digital transformation, we are already seeing the ways in which the acceleration of data and digital and artificial intelligence (AI) specifically are making our business operations more effective and efficient, leading to greater innovation and better serving our stakeholders across the care continuum.

In R&D, for example, we are investing in scientific and development digital platforms that can be translated across therapeutic areas and programs to ensure clinical trials hit critical milestones and stay on track. We’ve done this by consolidating our end-to-end clinical supply chain systems through our clinical supplies strategic initiative and are now enabling enhanced cloud-based automation for inventory plan fulfillment. By February 2022, we expect over 200 clinical trial supply chains to use automated ordering, distribution and inventory updates along with elevated analytics and visualization capabilities. Patients and healthcare providers benefit from these ‘behind the scenes’ technology innovations that make sure investigational therapies are available and arrive on time, keeping clinical trials moving forward. Any technology that reduces manual work also reduces the cost and time required to achieve greater scientific insight and discovery. That’s vital for an innovative biopharmaceutical company like Takeda.

Automation also goes beyond just the use of algorithms for rule-based and repetitive tasks. It allows us to be predictive and prescriptive. In fact, our field teams who work directly with health care providers are also using AI and machine learning (ML) powered technologies to create more impactful, personalized and coordinated interactions with healthcare providers. In a pilot program, we recently developed relevant and timely content, paired with innovative solutions leveraging cutting-edge technology to meet the needs of providers. This includes an AI/ML powered omnichannel capability allowing us to understand stakeholder preferences, the time at which our engagement is most relevant and for what content. Enabling our representatives to deliver the right message at the right time declutters the noise surrounding our stakeholders, increases relevancy of information exchange and helps them accelerate treatment decision-making in a way that can improve patient outcomes.

Data into action

Translating data into actionable and directional insights is also a crucial step in unleashing its power. The resources and amount of information around us is rapidly expanding, but by bringing together the landscape of different types of data and increasing accessibility within the responsibilities that govern it, we set a foundation for greater data-driven and outcomes-based decisions.

For example, we are leveraging data in terms of proteomics and genomics and plan to utilize AI/ML  algorithms to maximize our research opportunities in some areas of the business.  We also plan to include smart technology in our efforts to develop an integrated care solutions platform, including elements of smart services for device delivery to improve the patient experience.

Enhancing our ways of working

We have also been embracing data and digital technology to enhance our ways of working. This includes modernizing platforms and expanding data services along with fueling our cloud-driven business transformation through our strategic partnership with Accenture and Amazon Web Services. We also believe that technology must be a key part of everyone’s role and not just left to the IT team because, as Karl Hick, Takeda’s chief digital and information officer, said, “we believe that our people, not technology alone, will make the difference in Takeda’s data and digital journey.”

At Takeda, I am pushing for at least 15% of employees to be empowered by an AI companion within the next year and for all employees to have an AI companion by the end of the decade. By focusing on repetitive and high volume tasks, these companions can free up our employees to deliver greater impact where we need careful judgment, decision-making and interaction.

Although the automation of more trivial tasks sounds mundane, critical learnings and automation of these tasks will also help us to solve more complex problems in the future. For example, how can we apply machine learning to accelerate early diagnoses, estimate progression risk and identify those who may not respond to certain therapies? Or how can we use predictive modeling for cell culture process development or molecule design? These are just a few examples.

All of us are on a learning journey about the ways in which unleashing the power of data and digital can impact how we work and what we can accomplish. It’s where the future of our workplace and workforce will be so we can best deliver patients life-transforming medicines, more innovative ideas and stronger services.

Christophe Weber is president and chief executive officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.