The American pharmaceutical and biotechnology major Moderna, was quick to leverage their cloud-first strategy deemed for research and development (R&D) of personalized cancer vaccines towards COVID-19 drug-development pursuits as soon as the pandemic hit. Virologists and engineers at Moderna relied on the proprietary web-based application, Drug Design Studio, which runs on scalable cloud computing and data-warehousing technologies. The adoption of cloud principles helped the vaccine development major automate processes towards their end objective of accelerating therapeutic drug development.
As a result, within 42 days of the initial sequencing of the virus, the United States National Institute of Health was in a position to run phase one trials of the first clinical batch of Moderna’s vaccine candidate (mRNA-1273).
At each of these stages, technology tools, innovation and people-acumen were saviors for organizations to overcome the limitations imposed by this global pandemic, Analyzing the Digitalization Imperatives.
The Beginning: This phase was characterized by the globally prevailing confusion. The business outlook nosedived, and beyond the profits and margins, organizations lost valuable human resources. Initial attempts at digitalization during the early onset of the pandemic were more in line with ensuring business continuity, employee communication, and disaster management. While small steps in this regard helped avoid financial disasters for several organizations, it also reaped considerable benefits in terms of optimizing process efficiencies, as digitization brought about greater visibility in terms of supply chain management.
The Lockdown: With the world witnessing an era of government-enforced lockdowns, the imperatives to ramp up efforts of digitalization in the new normal arose from aspects of newly changing dynamics in employee-employer and customer-supplier relationships. However, the situational awareness had fairly evolved during this phase and the focus was on empathy – towards customers: service providers, employees, and all the stakeholders of the eco-system. This phase was also signified by automated business and operating models to offer improved and competitive customer services. The universal adoption of virtual service models, be it the likes of telehealth consultation in life sciences, Zoom and Microsoft Teams for workspace collaboration, or educational technology services for remote learning, was a rather welcome industry trend during these difficult times.
Unlocking: Coming to the current reality of phased unlocking, the imperatives to digitalize have changed considerably. These include:
Shift in Customer Sentiments towards Online Channels
From contactless manufacturing to digital banking and from online meetings to virtual tours, there is an evident shift towards adopting online channels for creating customer engagement, influencing customer decision making and collaborating to deliver seamless virtual experiences
Permanent Shift towards Altered Workforce Models
While the key to several business operations is physical presence, continuity is possible for a host of specialized services either remotely or through hybrid workforce models. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have announced remote work policies for the foreseeable future. Even corporates like Morgan Stanley and Mondelez are adopting hybrid models as we advance.